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Worlds of Fantasy

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					Worlds of
Fantasy

Short Stories Written by
 Sixth Grade Students
          in
     Pen in Hand
      Cycle Four

      2008-2009
                               TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Green Duck by Aaron Roybal                                              3
Changing Worlds by Adela DePavia                                            3
An Empire Born from the Ashes of War by Adrian Brown                       13
Around the World Race by Jake Linares                                      19
The Boy in the Stained Glass Window by Camille Chow                        19
The Adventures of Clock Woman by Hollyn Cetrone                            24
Rings of the Prophecy by Kristen Chan                                      30
Nazi Zombies by Michael Noack                                              36
Flamnar 6 by Nathan Baum                                                   38
The Underground by Peter Martin                                            39
The Authority by Ryan Sitar                                                41
Pignapped! by Stephen Nicholson                                            44
Space Adventure by Trevor Johansen                                         46
Finding Dad by Sarah Rockwood                                              48
Warriors: A New Generation of Cats of the Forest by Kayla Louise
   Guadalupe Moreno                                                        58
Spot and the Mysterious Kidnapping by Lily Rose Longton                    63
The Mysterious Adventure of David the Giant by Alex Thomas                 66
Fred the Talking Baseball by Alexander Schnier                             68
Taco Love by Annie Wapniarski                                              70
The Hunter by Brandon Fluegge                                              73
A Walk in the Park by Brooke Presten                                       74
The City in the Sky by Camila Loke                                         76
The Dominator by Chris Andrada                                             78
The Adventures of Freddy by Dylan Hoff                                     79
Adventures in Aquatopia by Emily Byrne                                     80
Stuck in Lykoria by Emily Friese                                           83
Our Amazing Adventure by Evelyn McManus                                    87
Saving Candy Land by Hayley Reardon                                        90
Warriors by Jack Connor                                                    94
Zombie World by Jackson Wegener                                            96
A Lizard's Point of View by Jacob Butler                                   98
Super Mechanical Pencil Travels Out of the Classroom by Jarrett Perches    99
Saving Malyia by Jessica Alvarado                                         101
Pig Island by Julia Gomes                                                 104
Zwack 7 by Kaelan Samoranos                                               107
Traveling Back by Kara Hom                                                108
Fairy Tale by Kathryn Firstenberg                                         112
A Story of Spite, Shrinking, and Twins by Konnie Guo                      113
Why Me? by Madeline Bates                                                 115
The Challenging Chain Letter by Olivia Whittaker                          116
The Secrets on Maple Avenue by Paul Cane                                  119
Knottlac by Sydney Mays                                                   121
Caramel Bear by Tucker Fife                                               124
Nothing by Tosca Maltzman                                                 125
                                                                                                                     3

                                                The Green Duck
                                                by Aaron Roybal

         Once upon a time, two perfectly normal ducks had a baby duck. The two parents were astonished at their
child. The baby duck was totally green!!!
         Shirley, the duck's mom, said, ”What’s wrong with our kid? He is... green."
         Daewan ,his dad, screamed, “His eyes are green, his feet are green, and even his bill is green!”
         The two parents didn’t know what to do. Daewan suggested that they should leave it to die. So that is
what they did.
         The newborn wandered around aimlessly. Somehow he found its parents again. Then Shirley decided to
keep him. Daewan was outraged and he flew off to Canada. Shirley then named him after his father, Daewan. His
mom would always tell stories about his father to him. All he knew is that he was big and strong with a yellow
bill.
         Three years later, Daewan and his mother went to a forest where she used to go with his dad, but this time
everything seemed peculiar. Out of nowhere, his mother was shot in the head by the hunter, Mr. Silvestri. The
duck’s mother then became food for a family of five.
         Daewan was alone, and the other animals didn’t want to be his friend because he was green. The duck
didn’t know where to go and what to do for weeks.
         After a while he met a stupid goat named Joe. Joe and Daewan were best friends. They did everything
together. That night Daewan went to the goat’s barn with him in Texas. A big tornado hit the goat’s barn. The
tornado sucked up Joe and threw him into the street. The goat was barely alive. When Daewan went to get help,
Joe was ran over by the Storm Chaser’s truck.
         Then Daewan went into a depression. He went to the forest where Shirley had died. While he was there
he saw Mr. Silvestri! The duck wanted revenge so badly, but he didn’t know what to do. Then he came up with an
idea! His idea was to sneak through the trees because he was green.
         When he was close enough attack him, Daewan swooped down, pecked him in the noggin, and flew back
up in the trees. When Daewan was coming back Mr. Silvestri quickly pulled out an AK-47 and shot aimlessly.
Two bullets hit Daewan’s right wing. The hunter couldn’t find him and just left him there to die. Daewan then
went unconscious. He woke up with a really bad pain in his wing, almost forgetting how it happened. He looked
to the left and saw a duck that looked familiar.
         The duck said, “I’m your father, Daewan.” He also told him that he had killed Mr. Silvestri. That is when
the war between ducks and humans began.
                                                 To be continued!


                                                Changing Worlds
                                                by Adela DePavia

         Kartec gazed out the small view port that was his one connection to the outside world. Behind him, he
knew, if he was to look backward, he would see the million twinkling stars, one of which was his home- no. It
wasn't his home planet anymore, and he must stop thinking of it as such. It was now just Saria, the planet that he
had once lived on, not the mother world.
         He sighed and turned his gaze to the small, ruddy-brown planet that was now their one destination. He
knew many of the older folk were rejoicing down below. Yet even they knew of this planet only through stories
told to them by their great-forefathers, although those forefathers had never been here either.
         Why had they needed to return? Why couldn’t they stay where they were? There had been no real reason
to leave, just a memory of a world. He hated himself for thinking it, but he knew it was the truth. They had been
in space for almost twenty Sarian years. Even if they went back, he would be older, far older than he was now
when they finnaly arrived.
         He sat down at his desk and watched as they slowly approached the small, dead-looking world.
         Well, he thought, if we do return, I will have at least seen Earth.

        Even was awakened rudely by a push off the bunk.
        “Get up!” her sister shouted into her ear and sprinted down the hall, already dressed for her day.
                                                                                                                    4

         “You’ll be late if you don’t hurry!” she called after her sibling’s retreating back. Her only response was
the slam of a door.
         Even took stock of her situation. She was the last person to wake up; her family had already left on their
various chores and jobs.
         She pulled on her work clothes and a hat. It would be frigid outside.
         She shivered ever so slightly, but braced herself for the cold and stepped outside. The noise hit her hard,
deafening in its unharmonious jangle of sounds.
         The girl made a strange figure, hunched over against the cold, just one person in an enormous multitude
of busybodies, pushing and shoving just to fight their way down the street.
         She looked up at the passing scenery, as she did every day. The bungalows were drab, depressing in their
uniformity. Each one was almost literally a block of cement, housing five to ten people in space the size of one of
the transport buses. Beneath her feet, the paved road was no longer visible. It was buried beneath layers of dirt
and trash, packed down by countless feet. Above her, the sky was an almost muddy blue from endless eons of
chemicals poured into the atmosphere.
          Along the street side, she could see squares of dirt that had never been paved. Once there had been trees
in those squares. Then stumps. Now, there was no vegetation anywhere. Her mother had told her of parks where
grass grew--she had never seen grass, but understood it was like green hair--and flowers bloomed. She knew what
flowers were. She had one. She had found it in an alley, had dug it up, and now it grew in a handleless mug by her
bed. In spring, it sent out a green stalk, from which gradually grew a little yellow star-shaped flower, which
turned into a big, white, fluffy globe-shaped thing. This globe blew away if you weren’t too careful, but it was so
pretty while it lasted.
          Noises brought her back to her senses. She gazed around frantically, and then relaxed. It was just a fight.
She walked past it, ignoring the two men grappling on the ground. It wasn’t like she hadn’t seen these before.
Come to think of it, she had only seen this one today! She started. What’s wrong with everybody? I usually see
five or six fights every morning. Maybe there’s some new chemical in the air that’s calming everyone. Weird.
         Even sighed and gazed upwards past the bungalow roofs into the sky. Couldn’t anything ever happen
here?

        Fifty thousand kilometers out of Earth’s atmosphere, something was happening.
        Kartec sat bolt upright, shaken awake by a jolt of the ship, straining to make out the voices outside his
door.
          “Default…..impact…..attack….” he could make no more sense of the words, but before he could inquire
further, a faint humming noise made him freeze.
         “Kartec!” It was his fellow engineer, Sovak. “You moron! Respond!” He sounded desperate.
         “What is it?” Kartec demanded.
         “Finally! Get down to engineering room! Now!”
         “What’s wrong?"
         “Just come!” Sovak ended the transmission without any further explanation.
         Kartec’s mind raced as he sprinted down the corridor, shoving aside gawping bystanders. He did not need
to know what the problem was now. The entire ship had started to vibrate, at first faintly, then more violently.
What was causing it? Were they in danger?
         He reached the door to the engineering room and forced it open. Inside, there was no yelling, just the
rapid, controlled movement of the team of that shift’s engineers.
         “Kartec!” Sovak called him over to the ship’s main computers. Ah yes. These were his specialty.
         “What’s wrong?” Kartec asked, praying the answer was simple.
         “We don’t know. We’re all checking our stations, but we are one short tonight. I know you’re good with
computers so…” Sovak’s voice trailed off, leaving behind just a note of hope and desperation.
         “Say no more. Just get back to work!” said Kartec, shoving his companion aside.
          He first checked all engine status, then the propulsionary system. Nothing. What about the ventilations?
No, circuits? Absolutely nothing wrong. In frustration, Kartec ran a check for all basic controls and functions. It
was blank. Wait--here was something.
         Kartec selected the program folder and read. According to this, their ships had received some kind of
broadcast. It was foreign in origin; he had never seen anything like this. Just what was this transmission doing?
                                                                                                                      5

        Quite suddenly, all vibration stopped. The ship held perfectly still. All the engineers glanced at each
other. They all had the same thought. Too still.
        Kartec was struck by a sudden horror. He looked back at the computer monitor.
        The engines whirred to life, and the ship began turning around, moving away from Earth.
        “What do you think you’re doing?” a senior engineer demanded of Kartec. Her shiny label read Olren.
        “It isn’t me,” Kartec said quite plainly. “It’s that.”
        Regardless of whatever force had sent it, they now controlled the ship through the broadcast. The
technology was incredible, because the transmission somehow controlled the ship’s main functions.
        “Stop that thing!” Olren hissed.
        “I don’t know how,” Kartec said apologetically.
        “Root it out like a virus; send it somewhere else, I don’t care what you do, but do it fast!”
        Kartec turned to the computer, sweat collecting on his brow.
        I’ll send it to one of our scout ships. Kartec thought. The scout ships were smaller, more agile vehicles
used for transporting things or people outside the great ships.
        He treated the offending program like a virus, as Olren had suggested. He rerouted all its control to scout
ship Sunspot.
        Kartec turned to grin at Sovak, when an explosion rocked the ship.
        “The program must have taken complete control of the Sunspot. It activated self-destruct,” a brand new
technician assistant reported.
        “Casualties?” Olren inquired. The older woman sounded like she couldn’t care less.
        “Wait. Okay. Fifteen dead and six wounded.”
        Kartec felt like his stomach was falling. Fifteen dead? It was all his fault!
        “I’ll retire to my room. Call me when it’s my shift,” he said as he left, hating himself for what he had
done.

         Down on Earth’s surface, Even was blissfully unaware of the events unfolding in space. Her only
preoccupation was her job. She was a telephone operator. It was a dull, boring job with little to do, because people
hardly ever used the telephone. They were at work all day, and at night, their whole family lived in one crowded
bungalow, so what was the point?
         To pass the time, Even had asked her brother to build her something entertaining. Christopher was a
mechanic with very little time, so he’d just given her a radio. He said it wasn’t worth much, but Even enjoyed
using it. Fiddling with the knobs, she tuned in and out of private conversations. People in power, like members of
the High Council, used radios to communicate with other important officials. She could hear some of the strangest
conversations.
         “Jerome…Jerome, come in. Please tell me you’re on,” Even’s heart leapt. Yes! She’d found something to
listen to. Finally. Conversations were sometimes hard to find.
         “I’m on. Who is it?” another voice crackled into existence.
         “Robert. Jerome, I have interesting news,”
         The weird thing about the council members was that they never yelled. Or fought. Or screamed death
challenges at opposition. In all, they were quite like her. Her siblings said she was Blood Weak, a strange
mutation which bestowed the owner with greater intelligence, but took away all aggressive emotions, which was a
horrible disorder. She knew her parents hated her mutation and thought it was a wonder she’d survived this long.
But, Blood Weak or not, she was the only one who knew everything that happened via this radio. She listened.
         “There was…are you sure no one’s listening?”
         “Positive. All the others are sleeping, and civilians think of nothing but violence,”
         “Well, there was a ship in orbit around, well, our planet. Earth,”
         “A ship? Wait--with passengers?”
         “Yes.”
         “What did you do? Killed them I hope,”
         “Not quite. But, we used the technology we’ve been developing. The disrupter. We almost had control,
but they did something. Re-routed the transmission. We’re planning to attack again.”
         “Good. Make sure they don’t survive.”
         “Roger. And-well--, never mind,”
                                                                                                                  6

         There was silence. Even turned off the radio. A ship! With people! If only she could--wait. If the
council’s broadcast worked, hers would too! She could contact…whatever they were!
        She grabbed the radio and began twisting the knobs. Let’s see what’s up there, she thought, half grinning.

         Kartec slammed his fist onto the table in sheer frustration. He and Sovak were at their stations for their
daily shifts.
         “They shouldn’t have technology like this. Not yet!”
         Sovak glanced at him. His friend’s pale green eyes were filled with sympathy. He knew just how much
the disaster had weighed down his friend’s shoulders.
         “Kartec…”
         “No Sovak! Not another word! It’s my fault we lost fifteen people. I should have known!”
         “How could you?! Kartec-,” Sovak cried, interrupting the protesting speech. “It’s not your fault! You
couldn’t have done anything! So shut up and calm down!”
         The outburst shocked Kartec into silence, although Sovak was quite prone to such vigorous interruptions.
         “Now.” Sovak was breathing heavily from all his shouting. "Calm down and figure something out. You
can’t very well--” he was cut off by a sudden little beeping noise.
         He and Kartec stared at the little flashing light, both realizing what it meant at the same time.
         Kartec lunged for the intercom while Sovak leapt for the view port.
         “Attention…” Kartec’s voice echoed through the halls. “Oncoming ships have been spotted. They are…”
he turned to Sovak who whispered “Unmanned and carrying weapons. Definitely hostile.”
         Kartec relayed the information. “….unmanned, carrying weapons and hostile. All personnel report to
defensive stations,” Kartec ended the transmission and turned. Sovak could see lines of worry etched deep in his
face. It wasn’t fair that Kartec felt responsible for the deaths. Even more unfair was the fact that Olren chose to
act although they had never occurred, leaving Kartec feeling guilty and depressed. He shouldn’t have to bear such
troubles. Sovak and his friend were only twenty-seven years old. Well, almost twenty-seven years in Sovak’s
case.
         A sudden jolt brought Sovak back to his senses.
         “Oh, no!” Kartec cried. “They’ve used that transmitter thing again. We need to know what they control
now.” A bead of sweat rolled down Kartec’s brow.
         Don’t let them have the defenses! Oh, powers above! Please not our defenses! Not now! If their defenses
were down, Sovak could see no hope of defeating the oncoming ships.
         Kartec moaned. “They were trying to disable our defenses-,”
         “Curses!”
         “Shut up! But I overrode them. However--”
         “This is going to be one of those big howevers, isn’t it?”
         “If you don’t shut up… Anyway, I can’t exactly control a lot of stuff.” Kartec looked guilty. “You must
realize it was this or our defenses, and therefore, by extension, our survival.”
         “Get to the point, or so help me, Kartec I’ll vent you into space,” Sovak’s nerves were worn paper-thin.
         “Fine. I can’t open any of the doors to the engine room. The main engine room. This room,”
         Sovak took about three seconds of silence, then exploded, “You mean we are the only ones with access to
our weapons?! Are you insane?”
         Kartec was already seated at the offensive weapons station. “You won’t do the ship much good just
yelling. C’mon, take the pilot’s seat.”
         “What?”
         “And to think I thought you were passive.”
         “And to think I thought you were sane!” Sovak was set to explode again.
         “Concentrate. Quick, take evasive action!”
         “Sovak swung the ship to the side, ignoring the small explosive device that hurtled by on the right, set to
explode on impact.
         “I’m going to fire,” Kartec sounded quite calm.
         “You are a fool!” Sovak, however, did not. It seemed he had not forgotten his anger. “You could be killed,
fiddling around with controls you don’t understand. Anyway, there’s no way you could hit those ships you’re first
time!”
         A sharp explosion contradicted his words. Sovak glanced out the window.
                                                                                                                 7

        “Excellent!” Kartec sounded genuinely pleased. “That’s one less ship to worry about." He stared at the
controls at his finger, and began pressing things again.
        Yes, but now we have to deal with the other. Sovak thought grimly.
        “Sovak! You’re not paying attention! Move!” Sovak swung the ship to the side blindly, hoping feverishly
that whatever had been fired at them missed.
        “Heavens! Can’t you keep yourself concentrated? Or is a life-and-death situation too boring?” Sovak
knew Kartec wasn’t mad, just scared, but that didn’t help his temper already worked up.
        “Shut up Kartec!” Sovak felt bitter anger surge through-…no. Kartec didn’t need any more problems.
        Kartec had no need to tell Sovak that something was wrong when an explosion rocked the ship.
        “What were we hit with and where?” Sovak’s heart was pounding.
        “Nothing major, but…uh-oh, well considerably important. We still have engine power, so it’s not
something we need to worry about. Now, that is,”
        “Good. Will you please try harder to eliminate our last opponent?”
        Kartec complied. Several minutes later, a team of officers forced open the doors. They raced over,
demanding an explanation.
        Sovak stood and left. Kartec could explain. He was going to bed.

          It was too late to be up. No sane person was awake, but then, perhaps Even wasn’t sane. She sat outside,
staring up at the stars. She knew there was a ship up there. All she had to do was find the right frequency.
          She wanted more than anything to contact it… them…whoever was up there! This offered a break from
the slow, dull life she led. Maybe they had books! There were only two books in her house, but nobody in her
family could read. She’d never met anybody who could read or write, except for the council. They could all read
and write.
          What if the people on the ship would teach her? What would they know? Could they show her new
things?
          A sudden noise from the radio jerked her back to the present. Her hands had been fiddling with the knobs
even when she hadn’t been concentrating, and she seemed to have hit an active frequency.
          She muffled the radio’s speakers and ran into an abandoned bungalow nearby. There was no one to hear
her in there.
          After she was sure that she was hidden safely, she listened intently to the radio.
          “…here with Sovak. What’s wrong? Why won’t you respond? Who is this? Engineering? Please
acknowledge." The voice was warped and tinny through the radio, but it sounded human.
          Even didn’t know what to do, but if they turned off their radio- or whatever they had- she might not get
another chance.
          “Come on, it’s not anybody. And it’s your move. Just turn that thing off,” a new voice spoke out.
          “Wait!” Even cried out in sheer panic. Curses, she thought now what?
          “Who is that?” the first voice spoke sharply. “I demand that you identify yourself immediately,”
          “Um…” Even was uncertain, but she forged ahead. “This is …Even…of, well, Earth!”
          There was silence from the radio, and then a sudden explosion of noise.
          “They’re trying to transmit again! Get down to the main engine room! Head off the attack! Run, run!”
          “No! Stop! I don’t have any way to hurt you! I swear! I’m just Even!” She was scared. What would they
do?
          Silence. A bunch of whispering, then, “Are you sure we can trust it?”
          “Sovak you worry too much. Anyway, I think they’re a she, not an it. And it’s on a different frequency
than the previous broadcasts." It was the first voice again, calmer and more trusting than the second.
          Even held her breath. This was the deciding moment. Would they turn off their radio and leave her to her
boring old life, would they attack Earth--or, maybe, would they possibly agree to speak to her?
          “Hello, Even-of-Earth, this is engineer Kartec with engineer Sovak. Why have you signaled us?” It was
the first voice. No, it was…Krtoc, or something.
          Even’s heart raced. They’re talking to me! Me, Even! Not the council, me! She struggled to control
herself.
          “Hello engineers Krtac and Sovil, um… I’m honored to… well…speak to you?”
          “It’s Sovak, thank you very much. Please answer the question. Why have you signaled us?” the second
voice, which Even now knew belonged to Sovak (thank you very much), cut in.
                                                                                                                    8

      “Well, I’m… tired of …life. Here, that is. And I was hoping you could … teach me. To
read…and…stuff." She was acutely aware of how painfully pathetic she sounded.
      There was silence. All she could do was grit her teeth and wait.

         Even had no idea of the confusion she had just caused.
         At least Sovak has the courtesy to whisper so the poor girl can’t hear him. Kartec thought, though
Sovak’s reluctance to shout probably had less to do with Even’s feelings, and more to do with not waking up the
occupants of nearby compartments.
         “Are you insane?” he hissed. “Turn off the transmitter.”
         “Sovak,” Kartec spoke calmly and softly--he also had no interest in waking others. "It’s ok. We already
know she’s not lying. And, she can tell us more about her community and the attacks.”
         “Fine.” Sovak moved to the radio. “First, tell us some answers. Why do you want to be taught? How old
are you? Why can’t you read? What do you know about us? How did you contact us? Where--”
         “Hush, Sovak.” Kartec interrupted. “Let her answer those.”
         “Um…well, I’ve never been schooled in my life. It’s not important for civilians to be well-learned. ‘Just
to 'keep your head down and learn how to fight. That’s how you’ll live long’ my brothers say. As to how old I am,
I have seen, There was a pause and some counting, “Twenty-seven bloomings. I--”
         “What’s a blooming?” Kartec asked. Then he blushed. He was getting as bad as Sovak.
         “A blooming is when the few plants around start to grow flowers and get bigger.”
         “Ah. Spring.”
         “What’s spring?”
         “Never mind. Please continue.”
         “Where was I? …Oh yes. I can’t read because no one can. Only the High Council. Even though we have
two books in our house, I’ve never been able to read at all. Um… ok. I don’t know anything about you, except
that you’re up there and the High Council wants you dead. I con--”
         “Who wants’ us dead?” This was exactly the kind of thing Kartec had been hoping not to hear.
         “Well, the High Council.” Even sounded puzzled. In her world, it mustn’t be uncommon to have mortal
enemies.
         “How do you know this?” Sovak couldn’t hide the suspicion in his voice. Kartec sighed mentally. Heck
with it. Sovak wasn’t even trying to hide his suspicion.
         “Well, with this radio. I heard their conversation right before I tried to contact you.”
         “Doesn’t this council have a more secure way to pass information? I mean, as you’ve proved, anyone
could listen,” Kartec wondered aloud.
         “Hah! No other civilians would bother with a radio. I’m considered a freak.” she said it calmly, with
acceptance.
         “A freak? For what?” Kartec was confused.
         “You know, it would be really helpful if we could stay on the topic of the people trying to kill us!” Sovak
was becoming louder with each passing minute.
         “Okay. Just please don’t shout. Someone will hear the radio!” Even sounded terrified. “The High Council
is in charge of all civilian business. They must consider you a threat, if they’re trying to kill you,”
         “Yes.” Kartec pondered that. What could the High Council possibly think of us? “Even, we’ll contact you
later,”
         “That would be good. It’s almost dawn, and I don’t want to be caught. I’ll be back on this frequency at
midnight tomorrow,”
         “Midnight?” asked Sovak. “What’s that?”
         “It’s in about twenty-one hours, nithead.”
         “Oh-my-gosh! Someone’s coming!” Even’s voice crackled out.
         “Even! What’s happening?” Kartec demanded. But there was no reply. He and Sovak could only stare at
the radio, wondering.

         Even couldn’t breathe. She was in an old attic space, listening. Someone had entered the house. She’d
grabbed the radio and run.
         Wait. If they found her with the radio, they’d be suspicious. If she didn’t have the radio, she could pretend
to be stargazing. All the neighbors knew she was weird. She stashed her only link to Kartec and Sovak underneath
                                                                                                                     9

a chair and ran towards the window. Oops! Too late! The intruder had heard her footsteps. She could hear them,
clumsily making their way up the attic steps.
         Even gazed out the window, trying to look totally engrossed in the night sky.
         The trapdoor opened, and she whirled around. She didn’t know this stranger. It was a woman with blonde
hair that she could make out in the faint glow of approaching dawn. She had a sharp looking face with a long nose
and untrusting eyes.
         The older woman stared at Even. “Are you the Blood Weakling?”
         What?! Even’s mind was whirring. What should she say? Yes? No? Best stick with the truth.
         “Yes, but how’d you know? What are you doing here?”
         The woman tapped a shiny pin on her shirt front. Oh no. it was the silvery three-star emblem of the High
Council.
         “I’m here on orders. Council’s orders. You’re comin’ with me,” her tone left no room for argument. Even
had no choice but to follow.

         Up in space, the ship had its own problems. Sovak watched Kartec fiddle uncomfortably. He and his
friend had asked to speak at a meeting of engineers. Sovak had no idea why they had to, but if Kartec thought it
was a good idea, it probably was important.
         “Kartec, you have been waiting for your chance to speak. What is your problem?” It was Vysse, a
relatively young engineer to have such an important position on the council, who addressed Kartec.
         “Well, in the last attack, we suffered engine damage. Our ship is almost entirely incapacitated.” Kartec
looked uneasy.
         “What? How?”
         “We cannot go anywhere at all. The propulsion system will not function.”
         “But we are still moving? Again, I pose the question, how?”
         “I believe that it is simply the gravitational pull of the planet. Other than slowly orbit, we can to nothing.
We can’t pull the ship farther from Earth, can’t leave orbit, and can’t avoid collisions. If we are attacked again, we
will die.”
         Lovely note of panic, thought Sovak. Kartec really has a way with words. “We will all die.” Honestly.
         “Well Kartec. That is… important news.” Vysse seemed to be gathering his thoughts. “We’ll need to go
to work on that immediately. Contact the current shift and inform them…” He walked off, giving instructions to
everybody.
         Sovak looked at his friend. “You didn’t mention Even,”
         “No. They’d ban contact. We wouldn’t be allowed to call her, and right now, Even is our only hope for
survival. We need her.”

         Kartec’s “only hope for survival” needed some help of her own. The woman, whoever she was, had rather
rudely forced her into a shiny, silver car. No doubt about it, she was from the High Council. Only they still had
cars.
         Then she couldn’t remember much. She must have fallen asleep during the drive. She had, after all, been
up all night.
         She was awakened by a jolt as the car pulled to a sudden stop in front of a lawn. Even had never been in
this place before. She gazed around the land that now surrounded her. Mountains! Those were mountains she saw!
Huge masses of earth, piled up so high it looked as though they could scrape the clouds.
         “Keep moving!” Even had forgotten about the woman, who was right now pushing her toward the doors
of a huge, gray building. The doors were black, and there were no windows. But the thing was huge! Fifteen
bungalows could have fit inside it!
         When they reached the entrance, the woman knocked twice, and spoke into a microphone hidden in a
corner. “This is Pari, coming in with the new recruit.” Pari? New recruit? Even was confused.
         “Pari!” a tinny voice came from the speakers. “Good to hear you! You’ve been gone a long time!”
         Pari. That’s her name. Even’s thoughts were interrupted by the opening of the huge double doors. Behind
them Even expected to see more gray, but no! It was a palace!
         The floor was a smooth, shiny white marble, and the ceiling was graced by a huge chandelier. There were
potted plants everywhere! Those alone could cost a fortune! Everywhere she looked, Even could see beauty and
wealth.
                                                                                                                    10

           “Ah!” Even jerked her head up. Above her, on the balcony, there were twenty people sitting around a
table. Men and women wore fine clothes and jewelry. The man who’d addressed her wore a black suit and tie, and
had gray hair. He looked like the oldest of the group. These must be the High Council themselves!
           “Pari! You’ve brought the new recruit I see,” he looked delighted. New recruit?
           “I’m terribly sorry, but I don’t know anything about a recruit, or why I’m here. Please, I don’t want to
seem impertinent, but could you explain?” Even had never felt so afraid in her life.
           “She wants an explanation,” the man nodded slowly. “Very good, very good. We will give you one, but
first, sit down.
           Even took a seat and the story began.
           “You know who we are. We know who you are. In fact, the only thing’s not known right now, are all
your questions. So, if you are to trust us, we might as well explain ourselves. The High Council. What a title. But,
haven’t you ever wondered how one gets on the High Council? We aren’t immortal you know. New members
must join sometime.
           “The council is made up of so called Blood Weaklings. Everyone at this table is ‘Blood Weak’. It is really
a gift, not a curse as the public believes. It allows us to make intelligent decisions based on fact, instead of who
we can kill when putting the plan into action.
           “We are constantly on the lookout for new recruits. If we hear about a Blood Weakling somewhere, we
send someone to spy. They evaluate if these people are really Blood Weak, and if they are adequately intelligent.
Then, we bring them to here. The High Council evaluates them, and we let them join. That is how we all came
here, and that is what you are here for.
           “Should you agree to join us, your family will be told you have died. They will be given a large amount
of money for your tragic ‘accident’. You will choose a new name, be introduced to the public, and will receive
pay and lodgings here,” the man smiled. To him it must seem like nobody would ever consider turning him down.
Little did he know that Even was trying to swallow the rising bile in her throat. These were the people who were
trying to kill the ship. And they wanted her to join them.
           “What if I don’t join?” asked Even.
           “Well, if you didn’t join, we couldn’t have a civilian spilling all our secrets. We would have to tie up any
loose ends,” he meant kill any loose ends. "But you look like a smart girl who knows what’s best for her and her
family. Aren’t you?”
           Even’s head was a whirl. If she didn’t join, they’d kill her and proceed to destroy the ship. If she joined
them, how could she help?
           “Well? What do you choose?” The man smiled at her. The other council members followed suit.
           One word would either save or condemn the ship and herself.
           Even opened her mouth and spoke.

         Kartec was having a brain wave.
         “It’s very simple. Don’t you understand, Sovak? This plan is the solution to all of our problems!” Kartec
was obviously very excited. However, Sovak didn’t seem so sure.
         “Kartec, it’s not like I’m doubting you, but are you sure Even can pull this off? She is, after all, a human.”
         “So are we, Sovak. We are distant cousins. We’ve only changed a bit.”
         “Yes, but still--” Sovak wasn’t happy with the plan.
         Kartec sighed mentally. He had to do this more and more often now. Sovak could be both impulsive and
suspicious. And he was turning both towards Even.
         “Sovak… please don’t… well, never mind.” Kartec’s speech was suddenly halting and uncertain.
         “Kartec? You okay?” Sovak’s concern was etched on his face.
         “Of course! It is just very important that you understand the plan, and I’m stressed. What with all the
engine trouble and stuff. Now! If you will kindly observe the…what was I saying?” Kartec couldn’t think straight.
His mind was muddled. He could only hold onto vague thoughts. Something about a plan. An important plan. And
a girl! Yes, and danger. Definitely danger. That was a big thought.
          Sovak glanced at his friend. “Kartec, you’re really green. I mean really green. Are you okay?”
         Kartec wanted to answer. He really did. But somehow, he couldn’t seem to remember what his answer
was. All he could think about was how the ship was suddenly swaying beneath his feet.
         Kartec crumpled to the ground. He still felt the swaying, but it was better when he was lying down like
this.
                                                                                                                  11

         He could hear someone saying, “…medics! He fainted! Quick!”
         Who was that? He seemed to remember someone like that. Oh yes! Sovak. That was Sovak! Good old
Sovak.
         His thoughts were more jumbled now. But Sovak would take care of it, right? Of course. He was, after
all, Sovak. Good…old…Sovak.

         Even agreed. She was immediately besieged by congratulations.
         Once they had died down, the man introduced the twenty men and women at the table.
         “Now that you are one of us, you ought to know our names. This is Maire, James, Paul, Christian …,” the
list went on and on until Even recognized one, “…and my second in command, Jerome.” Jerome! The one who
was talking to Robert! Which one is Robert?
         “And what is your name?” Even put on her sweetest and most sincere voice.
         “Ah! Perceptive little girl! Yes, I am the leader of our group, and my name is Robert,” Robert smiled at
her. This was the person responsible for attacking the ship! Even nearly hit him there and then.
         “There were twenty of us, but now that you’ve joined, we are twenty one. Who will be our twenty-first
member?” Even thought rapidly. A name! I need a name! One came out of the blue.
         “Sellis. My name is Sellis!” she said with all the conviction she could muster.
         “Sellis? That’s an odd name. No matter! Pari will show you to your room now,” Robert spoke loudly, so
that the whole hall could hear it.
         Even left the room to the sound of cheering from the council.

         Sovak didn’t know what to do. The plan was set to go into action in less than an hour, and Kartec lay on
his bed, lapsing in and out of consciousness.
         The plan had to succeed. This Sovak was certain of. If it didn’t, their ship would be destroyed, and he
couldn’t let that happen.
         Kartec was the mastermind. He had devised the plan. He would lead it. But there was another way. Sovak
could try to pull the plan through. He could try to save them.
         No. He couldn’t. He wasn’t a hero! He would wait until Kartec woke, then the plan would be put into
action.
         Murmuring drew his attention. Kartec muttered ferverently under his breath. “…plan... important, very
important…danger…what if…Sovak, good old Sovak,” he turned over, still talking to himself.
         Sovak felt his heart harden. He needed to try. Kartec wasn’t going to be able to leave.
         Sovak walked over to the radio, listening to Kartec.
         “…good…old…Sovak…”

         Even was doing the same thing. Upon being shown her room and left alone, she had attacked the radio
with surprising speed. Now she was desperately searching for the right frequency.
         “…repeat broadcasting on revolving frequencies. Even, if you’re there, please say something,” it was
Sovak!
         “Sovak! I’m here! What should I do?”
         “What are you doing on this frequency? According to this, your transmission is coming from the same
place as the attacks! I knew you were a traitor! Oh no! Kartec, what a terrible mistake we made!” he was lapsing
into hysterics.
         “Sovak, listen! It’s a long story, but I’m n the High Council building and I need a plan. Please trust me!”
Even held her breath.
         “Fine. Okay, if you’re in the council building, that makes things easier. First of all, you need to tell me
where you are.”
         “I’m in a room near a main corridor. It reaches down to the entrance, and doubles back. That’s all I
know.”
         “Ok. That doesn’t help at all. But, my superior intelligence tells me that you should head away from the
entrance. What you’re looking for is a small, black ball surrounded by wires. At least, that’s what our technology
looks like.”
         Even sighed, peering out of her door. She’d have to take the radio with her, if she wanted backup. Sovak
was better than nothing.
                                                                                                                 12

        She stole quietly past door after door. The walls were painted a stark, vivid white, and the carpeting
was a deep, blood red.
        There was a corner up ahead, and she glanced around it, looking out for anyone. Nothing.
        She proceeded down to another corner.
        “Sovak, do you have any idea where it will be?”
        “Well, um, no. Not exactly.”
        “Great. I’m trusting my life to an idiot in a space ship.”
        “Hey! I’m smarter than you! Name one thing you know that I don’t!”
        “Well, for one thing, I know where the transmitter is.”
        “How do you know?”
        Even glanced at the guard, sensors, alarms, and locks protecting one of the doors ahead. “Trust me, I
know,” she said.

         “Trust me, I know." The human sounded so cocky, so sure of herself. Sovak wanted to throttle her then
and there, but he couldn’t. Hundreds of thousands of miles separated them.
         “Even! Listen to me! Tell me what’s going on!” Sovak felt panicky. He was trusting the survival of his
ship to a girl.
         “Well, this door’s got guards, alarms, locks, basically the works. I have a feeling that this is what we’re
looking for.”
         “Even, do not attempt to overpower the guard or pick the locks. You will be caught! Even!” it was no use.
Sovak was talking to deaf ears.

         Even sneaked up on the unfortunate guard. She may have been Blood Weak, but that hadn’t stopped her
from learning how to, well, lets say incapacitate someone.
         She raised both hands for the blow, then froze. The guard was looking right at her. A wisp of their blond
hair stuck out of the helmet. Well well. It was Pari!
         They both froze, staring at each other. Neither knew what to do. Both waited for the other to make the
first move.
         “What are you doing?” Pari hissed, eyes wide.
          Even was dumbstruck in horror. What would Pari do?
         Pari stared at her, then whispered, “You have the courage to do what I’ve wanted to do for a long time.
Succeed!” Then she ran down the hall.
         Even heard her open the box with the security cameras. She didn’t know what Pari did, but there was a
sound of ripping wires and cracking lenses.
         She stared at the door, concentrating on the task at hand. “Sovak, what do I do now?”
         “Well let’s look at these alarms. The only way to disable them would be to ensure that those wires on the
door frame remain connected.”
         “What if I just smashed it?”
         “You’d have to ensure that the circuits did not break when you hit them.”
         “So, I could just smash it?”
         Sovak sighed. “Yes. Isn’t that what I just said?”
         Even braced herself and slammed a fist into the small round device next to the door. It cracked open.
Even decided to destroy the mechanical things inside, just for good measure.
         “Now for the locks. Bad news, human girl. Only magnetic keys will open those. Try to pick them, and
they’ll sound off another alarm.” Sovak sounded mad that human technology could stop him.
         Even sighed in frustration. Then she heard a sound, and turned quickly. Pari was there. She dropped a key
on the ground and walked away, as if helping traitors was a normal thing.
         Even wasted no time in thanks. She fit the key into the lock. Yes! It worked!
         She tried an experimental shove on the door with her shoulder. It opened.
         “Sovak, we’re in!”
         “YES!” Even heard the relief in that shout.
         She stepped into a room that was lit brightly with fluorescent bulbs. There were all sorts of things that
looked important. Strange bioexperiments, and a fortune in jewels forming in test tubes.
         “Sovak, could the transmitter possibly look like a metallic blue cube?” Even asked.
                                                                                                                     13

        “Well, yes, I guess it could. Why?”
        “Because I think I found what we’re looking for,” Even could hardly keep the glee from her voice.
        “Yes, you have,” it wasn’t the voice of Sovak that echoed in the confined space.
        Even turned to see Robert, looking maliciously triumphant.
        “You were the one aiding the ship, weren’t you? You. And now, you can’t get out with your precious
device,” he sounded so evil it mad Even’s skin crawl.
        “What if I just punched you hard?” Even tried to sound braver than she felt.
        The sharp click of a cocked gun answered her. Jerome had been hiding in the corner. “Try it, I dare you!”
        Even’s mind was a whirl. They would kill her. Her and then the ship. She had the transmitter, but she
couldn’t get out.
        “Now, hand over the cube slowly. You don’t want to get hurt do you?” Even stared at the small, shiny
blue box that was life or death. She couldn’t stop them from getting at it, but she could stop them from using it.
        “No,” she said defiantly and smashed the cube into pieces on the floor.

                                                       Epilogue
         There were a lot of changes for Even after that. Robert had been so angry he had jumped forward to
throttle her, but the cavalry had come just in time. Pari had brought reinforcements. Apparently, she had been part
of a resistance that had been trying to stop the council for a long time, even without knowledge of the ship.
         On the ship, Sovak had explained the whole affair to those in charge. There had been moderate
recuperations for not telling them earlier, but by and large, Sovak was considered a hero.
         The ship had opened communications to the governmental council building, where Pari had recently
become the first elected leader in over two hundred years. She given the ship permission to land, and the
occupants had begun the change from space to Earth.
         Kartec had recovered from his sickness, but it had left him weak and susceptible to disease. He couldn’t
leave the ship for several months, but eventually took his first steps on real soil. He no longer worked as an
engineer, but taught Even to read and write, as she had hoped.
         In all, everyone on Earth and in space had been affected. All those directly involved had had their lives
twisted around in some cases, like the council, for the worse. But in most cases, for the better.



                                      An Empire Born from the Ashes of War
                                               by Adrian Brown

         A kid was swinging on the swings with his eyes closed. It was a normal day with a slight breeze, but this
day was not how it seemed. Suddenly a meteor came screaming across the sky with sonic booms every two
seconds. They were beautiful and dangerous at the same time. People lost all sanity. Mothers fled without their
babies; men ran like the fires of hell were chasing them; while the kid asked for some peace and quiet. The meteor
shattered into seven pieces as more and more people fled. Some said that the end of days was coming. The kid
shouted over the screams and cries of the people,
“Would you all shut up?” Then he got hit right in the chest.
                                                          ***
         I woke up in a hospital, wondering why I was here. I felt a deep pain in my chest. I couldn’t see what was
causing it. I had a flash of me being dead. I hated that flash, but I knew that it was a strong possibility. I felt very
dizzy but the five second adrenalin rushes kept me fully awake and focused. My mom was there, crying. My pain
subsided, and confusing and fear and love replaced it. My last bit of strength faded away, and I blacked out.
         They couldn’t keep me asleep because of the adrenalin, and I was so depleted of strength and will. There
was great pain, but I didn’t struggle because of the connection with my mother. This went on for about two hours,
I guess. Then they had to break the connection. I struggled with all my might, tossing and turning for minutes.
Then they were done and the connection was reestablished, and I fell asleep.
         When I woke up I had a large piece of rock that I had to hold with two hands, but it was amazingly light.
They said that that was most of it.
         “Most of it?”
         “Yes, son. We couldn’t get the last piece of it, because it logged perfectly in the ribcage.”
                                                                                                                  14

          “Can you get it out?”
          “Yes, but if you want half a ribcage, then be my guest.”
          “It’s just a piece of rock.”
          “The rock melted, but some of it stayed solid, and it’s all over your ribcage.”
          “Great.” I sighed. I overheard their conversation.
          “The body can purge it itself, " said Bob
          “No. It’s too toxic. He will die unless he has treatment," said Robert Gilman
          “He looks fine to me.”
          “It’s like mercury, a slow acting poison, a slow but painful death.”
          “You know that if you’re not right he will die during surgery.”
          “Yes, I know.”
          “You could kill him or save him.”
          Then I barged right in. “Can you really do anything?” I asked from my wheelchair.
          “Yes.”
           I kicked Bob right in the face and Gilman in the chest, and then ran over his legs. Stupid, I called them,
and I ran over them. Then I left. Everyone was looking at me with their mouths on the floor and their eyes as big
as Texas. I rode my wheelchair out of there with pride and happiness and sadness. Two people blocked my way;
they said that they were news reporters and that they wanted to know how I felt.
           “Go away right now or else I will kick you and run over your feet with my wheelchair!"
          “No.”
          “Shut up.”
          “Never.”
          I was sick of him, so I chopped off his head with my wheelchair/sword. The camera dude ran away so fast
that he ripped a hole in space. As I was being sucked in my body began to glow and then there was a flash. I
found myself standing up with my wheelchair in hand. I must have been taller. I sure felt like it, and that hole
must have stretched my body. I discarded the thought.
          I was at school for seven more months. As summer break was coming up, the rock grew, and soon I was
completely covered in diamond. Sometimes it grew so fast that I had to destroy it by smashing it into rock or a
wall. One day I found out how to keep it in check. The “diamond” responded to strong emotions and thoughts. As
summer break moved into fall, I could not just control it through slight thoughts; it needed more rock to absorb as
I made things that weren't a part of my body.
          It was time for me to go to NASA I’d built a capsule but I couldn't power it. NASA was launching its
Mars mission, and I wanted to hitchhike or ride along. As I walked in, the secretary tried to stop me, but I barged
right in.
          “Let me go on the Mars mission.”
          “Why should I?”
          “Because I could cut off your head, and it would roll off sooo easily.”
          “Well then I guess that you can go, but you will need to pay me 1.5 billion dollars.”
          “Do you accept diamonds?”
          “Yes, why?”
          “Ok here’s your diamond.”
          And as I said that, a large pile of diamonds grew from the floor. Wow! That almost depleted my diamond
socks. I loved those socks. Too bad they had the me-killing-the-reporter video playing on them over and over
again. That always put a smile on my face.
          The astronauts didn’t complain too much after two or three heads rolled away. It wasn’t a total bore. At
least I had a couple of people to talk to. One was a scientist. We debated over and over but near the end we started
to teach each other. As we neared Mars, I said goodbye to everyone, shook hands, and exchanged addresses.
Then my capsule floated away.
          I haft expected to burn up in the atmosphere. I landed right next to where the shuttle was going to land. I
trudged along for two months. Then, as my food was running low, I walked into a cave to rest. When I woke up
there was a fire, but the weirdest thing of all that instead of wood, diamond was burning. I was out of my suit. I
thought that I was going to die but I could breathe here when I shouldn't have been able to. Then a person like me,
covered in diamond, came along. He said that he was my teacher, and he was telling the truth.
                                                                                                                   15

         Over the course of six months I learned how to make people, how to form diamond right out of thin air,
and how to make a fleet of war. Diamond wasn’t in great supply so the people were made out of iron on Mars and
the fleet out of diamond. As we were preparing to take over this solar system, I made Mars a lush bountiful planet
with everything it need to support life.
         “We are going to take Earth, we are the Diamond Empire.”
         “We have the troops, we have the ships, we have the will, we have the planet, but we do not have Earth!”
         “Long live the Diamond Empire!” they chanted.
         “The attack starts on Friday and ends Friday. No expense will be spared on my home planet and the
capital of the Diamond Empire.”
         “Yes, sire.”
         The ground I was on shook and crumbled, and great fissures appeared. This was only the first wave of
ten. The planet would have spilt in half if I hadn't said stop.
         “Only this wave and the mother ship will go. If we need you, I will send for you.”
         The journey there was short but boring. The only thing I did was make a dragon. As we were falling into
orbit blockading the planet I gave them a choice: surrender or lose and be conquered.
         They said, “Our star shall burn brightly till the end even though we are doomed.”
         More than a hundred missiles were coming our way!
         "Prepare for input!"
         "Engines down, shields down, fighter bays crushed, bridge operationa,l commutations down."
         "We’re drifting!"
         "How is the fleet?"
         "Down."
         "Scanning right now."
         "16/45 fighters destroyed 25/45 fighters disabled, carrier one destroyed, carriers 2 and3 disabled, 4
operational, 89/91 boarding and transport frigates destroyed, dragons 1/1 dead, 6,000,000/8,000,000 dead, 1.5
million wounded, .5 million fit for duty, most are on the mother ship."
         “Fix all the wounded and the carriers, then the fighters, then the mother ship.”
         “I’m going out to give the dead a proper burial without powers, and all fit personnel will do this first with
me.”
         “We are here today to mourn the losses that we have suffered and I know that they attacked us as we were
negotiating with them. It was unfair and underhanded, but we understand. So all of us will treat them with honor
and valor and truth, but most of all, any of you that attack an unarmed and unaggressive civilian will be killed on
the spot by their comrades, and if I have to I will take my own life without struggle. We are not savages.”
         “Send the speech to them.”
         “Yes, sire.”
         “You have changed today because you have seen the horrors of war and I think that a saying goes The
cost of war can never truly be accounted for.”
         “On Friday we will attack.”
         “But how?”
         “Using drop pods.”
         “But wouldn’t it be safer for you to wait for Mars to send forces to us then attack?”
         “Yes, it would be safer to wait, but we have a chance to attack.”
         “One last thing, would you like to turn Poopoohead into a dragon?”
         “Yes.”
         On that note, he was turned into a dragon. The planed attack was on Washington, D.C. The ride down was
rough. Ten thousand of my royal guard were with me. When we landed, I heard the thud of two or three drop
pods right next to me, not the twenty or thirty drop pods that had been with me. When I got out with twenty of my
guard, I knew at once that I was in San Francisco. How did I know? I saw the Golden Gate Bridge. When I rallied
all the guard in the area, I heard reports of 100+ guards at the airport. 1000+ guards at in Orinda. The rest were in
Washington, D.C.
         As we were running to the airport, my fifty guard were stopped by four or five mobs of people and a few
solders and a lot of tanks.
         “Incoming!”
         “Into the building!”
                                                                                                               16

         “Scatter positions!”
         “Hold fire!”
         “We come in peace.”
         “Yeah, right.”
         “Then we will have to defend ourselves.”
         “Men, fire at will!”
         We heard the roar of the guns blazing, people dying. That wave took five of my men to their graves. They
lost 254 civilians 125 soldiers and 15 tanks. They just kept on coming for days. We were fighting a retreat to the
airport, and then with some reinforcements, we could run to Orinda. We finally got to the airport or what was left
of it.
         “Who’s in charge?”
         “The cook is, sire.”
         “The cook?”
         “Yes he is, but he has led us through thick and thin soup.”
         “Tell the cook that we’re moving out.”
         “Also how many men are left?”
         “Fifteen unharmed, 25 wounded but fit for action, 50 in need of medical care, and 10 who will die by the
day’s end if they are not carried back to the fleet.”
         “Then you will have ships.”
         “First we need an evacuation at the airport.”
         “Ok, and who am I talking to?”
         “The person who could kill you even though you are 10,000 miles away.”
         “Ok, but what is your rank?”
         “Emperor.”
         “Ok.”
         “Remind me to kill him.”
         “OK.”
         We made our way to Orinda and met up with the army there. They were bombing Orinda, even though
there were still harmless civilians. We were going to leave Orinda to go to the airport. We fought our way to the
airport. After that we captured the city. But when a bomb was going to kill me, Brother Horus pushed me out of
the way.
         “For you, my king.”
         “No, for your brother.”
         With his death, rage and hate boiled inside me and a rush of power came to me. All the men that I lost on
the planet were reborn, and the guns that we needed to protect the people were made, and a green tide of men
were made, and it was outstanding.
         Within the day I was shipped back to the fleet. I collapsed on my bed. Then I think that my dragon and
dragonlet, or baby dragon, curled right next to me.
         “Emperor, come to the bridge right now.”
         “No.”
         “But. . ."
         Then I smashed it.
         “Come on.”
         As we flew to the bridge, we passed a window. Looking into it I saw, Earth once a paradise, now a planet
of fire and death. I saw a green tide of men on Asia or what was left of it; it split when we landed on it. Then I
wept and wept for hours, killing all the people on the transports.
         “Sire we’ve won.”
         “You’re the stupid person who didn’t want to give me a ship when we needed it.”
         “No I’m not.”
         “Die.”
         “No!”
         “Just shut up and die.”
         “Ok, what did you want from me?’”
         “Incoming fleet.”
                                                                                                                   17

          “It’s about time you know.”
          “ It’s not ours.”
          “What?”
          “Incoming message.”
          “You are stupid and weak. I’ve defeated you fleet even though you sent your best at me.”
          “That was just the garrison I put there, which was only five million people.”
          “Oh, you will die right now.”
          The other fleet had to come to us. When they came within firing range we opened fire.
          "2, 3 and 4 are down."
          "15/45 transports destroyed."
          "Boarding other fleet flagship and destroyer escort."
          "Protect those boarding frigates!"
          "Nukes away from planet side."
          "EMP!"
          "1 through78 destroyers disabled."
          "Time for the trap."
          "Enemy escort captured."
          "Going to the flagship bridge."
          "Boarding frigates destroyed."
          "Escort covering our retreat."
          "Escort destroyed."
          "Fleet landing."
          "Trap working."
          "Enemy command frigates and stations destroyed. Enemy Mother ship last command ship in place.
Mother ship destroyed. No command left in enemy fleet."
          "Our fleet hulls are burning up. Losing fleet, losing formation. Mother ship all that’s left. Friendly nukes
incoming!"
          "Landing 5000 m/ph 4500 m/ph too fast to land, reverse engines, reverse at 6000 m/ph, landing 300 200
100 0 cut engines. Thud. Landed fleet all but destroyed. Night time crew repairing hull for jump to Mars, but
needed to go out in space to jump."
          “Shut up!”
          “Report! I don’t care about loss of ships, only of life.”
          "800,000,000 wounded 1,000,000,000,000 dead 500 unharmed 1,000 fit for duty."
          "Medical bays destroyed medical ships survived the landing."
          "It looks like we’ve lost, but listen in and watch."
          “How’s Earth?”
          “All major cities nuked, 40,000,000,000,000 dead, Orinda or the capital of the Diamond Empire is
shielded so it’s not been nuked; walking to Orinda is an option.”
          “Ok, new orders. All wounded will be healed. Now all fit will go to the belly of the hull.”
          “What will we do then?”
          “Await orders.”
          “Yes, sire.”
          We gathered at the belly.
          “We are going to carry this ship on our backs to Orinda.”
          “Also we are going to search for survivors, and when we do, we will take care of them, and when they are
fit, they will carry this on their backs.”
          “All personnell will search for survivors that are fit right now.”
          I fixed the hull and restored the medical bays.
          Five days later, we set out for Orinda. 5,000 men carried that ship on their backs. Within seventeen days
we passed the halfway mark.
          “Now we rest for a day.”
          “Medic, how many people do we have dragging this ship?”
          “500,000, sire.”
          “Really, that many? Also, how many in the medical bays?”
                                                                                                                    18

         “452,623 people. 152,623 are civilians.”
         “Great, when we get to Orinda we will get all the sick healed.”
         We dragged on after that day. For nine days we dragged on, until we saw Orinda. Most of the civilians
mouths dropped open, while most of the soldiers said, “That’s Orinda. Not much.”
         I dropped the ship and ran to Orinda. I didn’t get five steps forward before I was shot at.
         “Get behind the ship!”
         But I was too late. People started dying left and right. Our guns started to fire at Orinda but they weren’t
at full power, so they couldn’t penetrate the shields.
         “Orinda, stop firing at us We are the Diamond Empire.”
         They didn’t stop firing but fired harder and faster. They were bringing out their main gun; it had the
power to split Mars. There was only one chance left--the EMP it would knock out the shields.
         “Fire the EMP right now.”
         We fired and it worked. We charged and captured the city. It was time to take back Mars. I fled into the
bottom of Orinda. No one was allowed into the forge of the world.
         “Today we attack this fleet that has killed so many of us. Today we show them who we are. We will not
back down; we will not accept surrender; and we will never give up fight to the last man!”
         “Today we will add a 10th planet to this solar system a forgeworld!”
         “What is a forgeworld?”
         “A forgeworld is a world that is made out of steel, and it will make anything you want, like our fleet!
         “What? How?”
         “I’ll show you.”
         With that the forge world was born, and it started to make my fleet in three seconds I tried to stop it, but I
couldn’t, and ships started to pour out at an alarming rate. They lost so fast I didn’t have the time to say goodbye.
After that we conquered planet after planet with no fight. By the third year of the empire we had 4.75 galaxies.
         “Sire, we have a distress call from Earth.”
         I looked at him with just my eyes, never moving my head. He killed himself right then and there. When
we got back home we only saw an asteroid field.
         “Is this a mistake?”
         “No. The computer says we’re at Earth.”
         "No. Earth has been destroyed."
         “Where is the forge world?”
         “I think it is over there.”
         I looked at where he pointed and saw the light of engines.
         “Let’s see if the forgeworld is still ours.”
         “Incoming!”
         “Shields up.”
         “Shields aren’t working. No!”
         “All ships are damaged; some are totally destroyed.”
         “Who is firing?”
         “Someone, sire.”
         “Fire back right now!”
         We fired back and won, but at the cost of losing the forgeworld.
I hunted down the race that destroyed Earth. After that I went to the asteroid field and gave my life for Earth.
         Sorry his dragon speaking here. When I saw my master die at the birth of Earth, I wept at the honor of this
person and his empire. That day every species that lived in the nearest 500 galaxies came to his funeral, and then
1,000 galaxies from every galaxy that came went. There was so much mourning that day that whole universal
wars stopped and mourned for his death. Within the year the empire crumbled. An empire that was born from the
ashes of war died from the ashes of peace.
                              To be continued in Chapter 2: The Peace of a Frigate at War
                                                                                                                    19

                                             Around the World Race
                                                 by Jake Linares

          Once upon a time there was a rookie of the year, Josh Nicholson. Hall of Fame Travis Pastrona, known as
“TP," held the record for the most golds in a tournament. Josh had just been sponsored by Fox Racing and wanted
to compete in the Amateur 96 World Cup of dirt bike racing. Josh’s first race was coming up, so his dad and he
took the bike back to the trailer and checked for leaks, gas, brakes, clutch, and how well the engine started and
held up, and the power of the 426 YZ Yamaha bike.
           “Five minutes until the 96 World Cup!” said the loudspeaker. Josh glared at the starting line as he threw
on his helmet. He started his bike, kicked into first gear, and went to the starting line. Josh set up his bike for the
start of the race. Josh put his bike in clutch position and was ready for the shotgun.
           The loudspeaker man walked up on the line side and said, “All right, racers, here we go. This is the 96
World Cup race and it is from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to Mar de Plata, Argentina. OK racers, here we go! 3, 2, 1
GO!!!”
          All them blasted off from the start line, reaching speeds of up to 684 miles per hour in the first few
seconds. Josh wanted to win this race, to make his father proud, and to earn the reputation of rookie in of the year.
          Josh was still in the race with the lead and had kept his head held high along with the position of first. He
was about halfway there and had total confidence in winning this race. Josh noticed his speed dropping and the
power of the engine dying; he looked down and saw gas dripping from his engine. He realized that he had a leak
through his gas pipe to his engine tank. While observing his tank Josh lost control of the wheel. The front wheel
started to wobble, and Josh flew forward, smashing and hitting the hard cement track. He slid on his back until his
bike came crashing and streaking towards him. As the bike came toward Josh, he turned his head and saw that
bike coming. Josh knew it was over; the bike had dragged Josh two hundred and sixty-five feet farther and deeper
into the cement. Josh finally stopped. He had broken four bones and was uncontrollably bleeding.
          Other racers reported the crash, and the emergency helicopter was flying in for help. As medical surgeons
poured out of the helicopter with a layout sheet to put Josh in the helicopter, they took his bike by strapping ropes
and securely pulling Josh’s bike up and into the air with the helicopter.
          Josh’s father was at the trailer waiting for Josh to get back and was stressing and wondering if he was ok?
Josh got back; his leg and feet were crushed by the bike. He had minor cuts, mostly bruises and broken bones,
when the helicopter came in. Josh’s father ran to the helicopter to see if he was dead or alive. The bike was
dropped off in front of the trailer and was totaled. Josh was disqualified and was furious about it. He could race
again in two or three months.
          Three months passed; Josh was out on the track every day, training for the ultimate spring race, also
known as USR. Josh had fully recovered. He had a better bike with a new engine with absolutely no leaks.
          Today was Josh's big day, and the return of the USR. Josh kick started his bike and headed for the bottom
of the hill where the starting place was. Josh saw all the competition lined up with sponsors on their bikes and
helmets like Monster, Red Bull, and Fox Racing. The gunshot rang in Josh's head saying "go." Josh kicked into
first gear and flew off. He wasn't used to the air coming into his helmet; he had been off the track for three
months, and this was his test of memory.
          Josh was holding the lead. He was coming up to the mountain, minutes away from the finish line at the
top of the mountain. Josh got cut off and was swerving left to right. He was an inch away from the edge of the
huge mountain. He got back control and sped up to finish the race and take home the gold. One rider was on his
tail from the start and was about to come up and pass, but, no, Josh sped up and came to a stop at the finish line.
          Josh had won the race and had the best feeling he could ever have. All the other racers were coming in
second, third, and beyond. Josh took off his helmet and saw that trophy waiting for him. He ran to it, took it, and
held it high. Josh had won the race.


                                       The Boy in the Stained Glass Window
                                                by Camille Chow

        BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! I slammed my fist on the alarm clock. I wasn’t in the mood for my first day at
Tongs High School. I had just moved to the small boring town of Tongs, California, much less interesting than
Florida, where I belonged, with my mom. My dad wasn’t that bad--in fact he’s very loveable and old fashioned. I
                                                                                                                   20

also got to live with Ming-Ming my cat; he’s awesome at finding things. I used to hide his food and make him
find it when I was little.
         They brightened up this place a bit, but the worst part about this town; it was cold, cold, cold! I slowly
slipped out of bed and touched my bare toes to the freezing wood floor, Yeow! I really hated this place. As soon
as I got out and turned around to make my bed, everything was gone, the sheets, the pillows; it was really strange.
         “Come on Jamie! You don’t want to miss your first day of school!” my dad yelled from the kitchen.
         “Coming,” I replied, checking the clock. It was 7:30; I was going to miss the bus!
         I ran down to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Yikes! I was a mess! My long, brown hair was a rat’s
nest. My green eyes had bags around them, and my pale skin was chapped from the weather. I fixed myself as
best I could and went down for breakfast, Cheerios and orange juice, the usual. But again, when I got up to get the
milk, I turned to see that half my juice was on the ground, the was other half gone and the Cheerios had been
devoured. What was going on? I decided to skip breakfast and catch the bus.
         When I stepped onto the bus everyone turned away. What an unfriendly group, I thought. I walked the
aisle, desperately looking for an empty seat. Then a light haired girl scooted to the end of her seat. Thank God! I
awkwardly tried to squeeze in with my fat backpack.
         “Hey,” I said, trying to fit in. “I’m Jamie.”
         “I’m Katelyn. I can help you around the school, if you want.”
         “Thanks. So is it always this cold?”
         “Pretty much, except during the winter. The weather’s perfect then for the beach.”
         What a strange place. We kept talking and I told her about my life in Florida. And she told be about her
dream to be a vet or a professional soccer player. Cool, a soccer player, just like me. On the inside, I was rejoicing
that I could avoid embarrassment of getting lost like I always did on the first day of school.
         Katelyn was just telling me about Mr. Leatree when something caught my eye. The bus was passing the
biggest mansion I had ever seen, and in one room, was a stained-glass window with bright colors like in a church.
But in the window, there was a boy, the saddest boy I had ever seen. All the colors seemed to fade into gray
around his sad, beautiful face.
         “Jamie, Jamie!” Katelyn said with worry. She broke my trance, and the bus sped right past the window, as
if the window controlled time.
         When I stepped out of the bus, someone tripped me, and if it weren’t for Katelyn I would’ve gotten a face
full of mud.
         “Oops, my bad!” said a girl wearing designer clothes and a ton of makeup. The only thing that could
complete her was a purse-sized dog. Typical bully. She didn’t even sound sorry.
         “What’s your problem, Grace?” Katelyn was really annoyed.
         “My problem is her!” she said, pointing her manicured finger at me.
         “Just ignore her Jamie,” she told me. “She doesn’t deserve attention.”
         Grace must’ve heard because she gave Katelyn a snobby “eh!” and walked away.
         Katelyn rolled her eyes, “Don’t worry. Grace just likes picking on the new students.”
         “Gee, now I feel welcome. Thanks.”
         “No problem.”
         I went through most of my classes fine, no pop quizzes, nothing I didn’t know, everything was normal,
until biology. You know how on the first day of school teachers usually show you around the room, talk about the
class rules and that kind of stuff? Anyway Mr. Malber was showing us the lab equipment and it happened again.
One second there was a row of beakers in front of me, then when I turned to look at something, I hear a loud
crash! And they were all over the floor.
         “Jamie!” Mr. Malber bellowed. “Clean these up immediately!”
I spent the rest of class with everyone staring at me as I pricked my fingers on the glass. I hated it when people
stared at me unless I was playing sports. Which is why I was relieved when PE came around.
Finally one of my strengths would be able to show. We started with a soccer unit. When it came to sports, I was
competitive. I plowed my way up the field, dribbling the ball, giving it a hard kick in front of the goal. The goalie
had to jump out of the way so she wasn’t shattered by the speed of the ball. I was proud that I had a calling, but
apparently no one else cared. As we went to the locker rooms, I heard people muttering “show-off!” How was I
supposed to fit in here?
         At the end of the day, I was relived when the bell rang. No more being embarrassed at school, just at
home. As we passed the window again on the bus, I felt the pain of the boy’s sadness, as strong as this morning.
                                                                                                                  21

          The next day, Katelyn invited me to her place to play soccer; apparently she was the only person
impressed by my PE performance. In the afternoon, I got off at Katelyn’s stop, but, just my luck, the depression
that overwhelmed me told me one thing. Katelyn’s house was next door to the window.
          During soccer I tried to ignore it, but something was drawing me toward him like a magnet. I couldn’t
take it any more.
          “Oops!” I yelled, hoping Katelyn didn’t hear the fakeness as I kicked the ball into the neighbor’s yard.
“I’ll get it!”
          I sprinted into the yard before Katelyn could yell “Wait!” and ran up the stairs. I really didn’t want to
barge in, but I was desperate for some reason. I ran up and up, up past an old man who was waving his fist. My
heart was racing. I burst into the room and just stood, silent, in awe. I was paralyzed with fear, but the longing to
walk forward kept me from running away. There, standing only a few feet away, was the boy, staring at me with
his sad, meaningless eyes.
          I met his stare with a surprised expression. “H-how are-are y-y-you-?” I stammered.
          “I’m Percy,” he said blankly. “My people are in danger and we need you to help us.”
          “This isn’t real.” I started to think this was a dream. “Freaky window people aren’t supposed to talk!”
          Percy looked taken aback, “Why not?”
          “It’s not possible!” I tried to make sense of all this. I was angry for some reason. Maybe I was stressed
because something was stealing my stuff.
          And as if he could read my mind, he said, “We’re sorry, but some of us come out of the window into your
world to gather supplies and food.”
          “So there are more of you? Great.”
          “Jamie you’re special. You notice things other people can’t. You can fix our problem. Come with me.”
          “What are you talking about?” I asked.
          “Come with me!” he repeated. Now the old man was stomping up the stairs after me, I couldn’t turn back.
          “Fine,” I said.
          “Take my hand.” He reached out his glass arm. I held it, and he sprinted towards the window.
          “Are you crazy?” I screamed, recoiling from the window, letting go. “You’re gonna kill us!” The old man
was getting closer, his boisterous yelling and stomping shaking the house. Percy urged me with his face, his eyes
pleading with sorrow. The man was even closer. STOMP! STOMP! STOMP!
          “Come on!”
          I finally decided, I said my prayers and grabbed his hand. He began to run towards the window again.
          STOMP! STOMP! STOMP! “I’LL GET YOU YOU ROTTEN-”
          CRASH! We broke straight through the window, of course. I was so stupid to trust a stranger like him!
Now I would plummet to my death! But I opened my eyes to see that I was safe, sitting on the ground. Was it all
just a dream? But I wasn’t waking up in my bed. I wasn’t even in Tongs anymore!
“Where are we?” I asked, dazed.
          “We’re in Spronze,” he said, casually for someone who just traveled through a window.
          “Where is Spronze?”
          “It’s a different universe,” he said simply.
          “I told you, this can’t be possible!”
          “Oh, but it is Jamie.” A grin spread across his face. We started walking and I realized it was very dark,
and there wasn’t even a moon.
          “Hey Percy, when does the moon come out here?”
          “What’s a moon?” he asked, puzzled.
          “Spronze doesn’t have a moon? Okay, when does the sun come out?”
          “That’s why you’re here.”
          “What?”
          “You see, many years ago, the sun disappeared, and we believe it’s somewhere in the mountain. Many
have tried to find it but nobody comes back.”
          “So where do I come in?”
          “Legend has it that a seeker with the all-seeing eye will come and find the sun for us.”
          “And you think that that seeker is me? Why?”
          “Can’t you see me?”
          “Well duh!”
                                                                                                                  22

         “You see? Only special people would be able to see me.”
         I tried to forget about the sun as we kept walking. We exchanged stories. He told me more of the history
of Spronze and I told him all about me, my dad, and Ming-Ming. He was surprised when I told him about my
photographic memory. It usually does amaze people when I tell them the first 463 digits of pi.
         As we went through the paved streets of Quarta, a city there, I noticed it was a quaint, peaceful planet
with tall, stone buildings and practically empty streets. Certainly not the way I imagined an alien city, with
everything chrome and green people with antennae flying around in hovercrafts. It was almost as small as Tongs.
But now that I thought about it, I started to miss Tongs. The cold weather and sparse vegetation had begun to
grow on me. My thoughts were interrupted when Percy asked me a question I didn’t want to hear.
         “So how are you going to find the sun?”
         “Well, I’m going to sit here until a miracle happens, like my dad wakes me up.”
         Percy rolled his eyes, “Well you should at least stay inside, I’ll take you to my neighbor’s house. You’re
welcome to stay there.” He led me to one of the stone houses in the square.
         “Hello Percy. Who’s this?” a red-haired lady with a bright attitude and shining face said.
         “Jamie, this is Annemarie. Annemarie, this is Jamie. She needs a place to stay; would you mind if she
stayed here?”
         “Well of course not. Come in, Jamie. Are you hungry? We’re having corn on the cob.”
         “And?”
         “Well just that. Without the sun we can’t get much food except from Earth.”
         I tried to hide the expression on my face. No food? “It’s okay, I’m not that hungry anyway.”
         “Well, I’m going home. See you in the morning,” said Percy
         “Bye Percy,” she said smiling. “Well, Jamie, you should come inside and get some rest. You look tired.”
         Now that she mentioned it, I was pretty tired. She showed me to the guestroom, and I climbed into a
warm, welcoming bed and pulled the quilt over my head. I waited and waited for this crazy dream to be over, but
eventually I fell asleep.
         After that I began to dream. In my dream I was sitting under a tree in front of a cave with my legs
crossed. In the entryway of the cave stood before me a great ball of light. The sun of Spronze. But it was much
different from our sun. It glittered like jewels were encrusted in its rays. It slowly approached me and I could see
a face, smiling at me. It said:
                                        Hidden in the mountains, I wait for you,
                                      But there’s one more seeker, one that is new.
                                           He’s very different from you and I,
                                         But trust me, he has the all-seeing eye.
         When I woke up in the morning, I went to Percy and told him my dream.
         “Interesting,” was all he could say. “But who’s this new seeker?”
         “Well he said he’s very different from us.”
         “I know!” he exclaimed, “The moon! He’s different and he watches over your world at night.”
         “Yeah, but how are we supposed to get it? We can’t fly and he’s too big to travel by window.”
         “Maybe the sun will tell you in another dream.” Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. So the next night I went
to bed and, sure enough, I had another dream.
         I opened my eyes, and I was in the same place as last time. The sun was in front of me with another clue:
                                         The seeker you have guessed is wrong,
                                            But you are right, he is in Tongs
                                                 He in fact is very close
                                           His company’s what you like most.
         Once again I woke up and told my dream to Percy.
         “Well, I guess this means that you’ll have to go back to Tongs and look.” Finally, an excuse to go home.
“I’ll walk you back to the window.”
         As we walked back I realized something. “Oh my gosh! I’ve been away from home for two days! My
dad’s going to flip!”
         “Don’t worry Jamie. Time flies when you’re in another world. You’ll arrive back in Tongs only a few
hours after you left.”
         “Okay, good.”
                                                                                                                   23

         When we were back in Tongs, we started brainstorming. I thought of all the people whose company I
enjoyed. But all I came up with was Katelyn and my dad. I knew it wasn’t an adult; adults are never believers in
this kind of stuff. So I went next door to see Katelyn.
         As soon as she saw me she said, “Oh my gosh Jamie! Where’d you go? I was looking everywhere for
you!” She sounded just like my mom.
          “I’m fine. You see, Percy and I…”
         “Who’s Percy?” she cut me off.
         “He’s right here.” I pointed at him.
         “I don’t see anyone.” She looked confused and about ready to call the insane asylum. Stumped, I went
home and fixed myself some macaroni and cheese. When I smelled it in the microwave, I realized that I hadn’t
eaten anything for a while. Time did fly in Spronze.
         “Do you want anything?” I asked Percy. I didn’t know how much he needed to eat.
         “Sure,” he said. I knew he was really hungry by the noises his stomach made.
         “Help yourself.” I needed to sit down and eat so I could start thinking straight. But before I could relax, I
remembered that I needed to feed Ming-Ming.
“Ugh!” I grunted.
         “What?” Percy asked with a mouthful of crackers.
         “Nothing, just gotta feed my cat. Come here Ming-Ming!” As soon as he ran inside, excited to eat, like
always, he began hissing as he looked at Percy.
         “Whoa!” Percy jumped back. “What’s up with him?”
         “Oh, nothing.” I picked him up, struggling and still hissing in my arms. “Ming-Ming just doesn’t like-” I
paused.
         “What is it?” Percy asked again.
         “He can see you.” I said and then Percy understood. Of course! The sun never said anything about a
human, Ming-Ming was different and I did enjoy his company.
         “Hey. You told me Ming-Ming could track anything. Let’s go!”
         A few minutes later we were back in Spronze, huffing and puffing from the run there. We hiked up into
the mountains and set Ming-Ming down.
         “Okay Ming-Ming, find the sun!” Percy yelled, but the cat just sat there. “Why isn’t he doing anything?”
         “Ming-Ming can’t track anything he’s never seen or smelled before.” And then I got an idea, “Hey, do
you have a piece of paper?”
         He handed me a sheet and I used my photographic memory to draw a picture from my dreams. I showed
it to Ming-Ming and he darted off. Good thing he had a leash, or we’d have never seen him again. He led us past
beautiful, lush fields through the mountains. They were a nice sight with colorful flowers, but they started to
shrink and whither away as we neared our destination.
         And finally, Ming-Ming stopped at the entrance of a cave, the same one in my dream. We entered slowly.
This cave was darker than sunless-Spronze. Even though Percy and I were afraid, Ming-Ming led on with his
glow-in-the-dark vision. After what seemed .like forever, we finally saw light, something Percy had never seen
before. He got so excited he ran past Ming-Ming into the bright room. But it wasn’t the sun, it was a trap! I ran
into the room and fell into a trap door, landing three feet in front of a steel cage, holding the sun captive. Behind
it, was a throne, and sitting atop it was a giant, with long, tangled hair and red, beastly eyes.
         He boomed, “Who are you?”
         “I’m Jamie, and I’ve come to retrieve the sun,” I tried to say bravely.
         “You can only take the sun if you beat me at a challenge!” he grinned.
I thought of different things I could challenge him at. “Soccer!” I finally said, “I challenge you to soccer!”
         “Fine then,” he chuckled, “First one to three. Let’s begin!” And then a huge soccer ball fell from nowhere
and landed on the ground with a thundering BOOM!
         I stared at it in horror. No way was I able to do this. A giant, invisible referee blew his whistle and it
started. “ROUND ONE!”
          “HMPH! AHH!” I yelled as I tried heaving the ball across the field, making no progress.
         “Ha, ha, ha!” he mocked as he easily kicked it right into the goal.
         The whistle blew again, deafening me. “ROUND TWO!”
         I was almost out of strength already, but I had to try! This time I defended the goal, but it was no use; the
ball sailed over my head, scoring another easy goal.
                                                                                                                     24

        “Jamie!” Percy said, “come over here!”
        “Time out!” I shouted. I ran over to Percy. “What am I supposed to do? It’s too big for me.”
        “I don’t know, but if we don’t make it out alive-”
        “What do you mean?”
        “You know how anybody who’s gone looking for the sun has never come back,” his expression told the
rest.
         “Well in that case, it was nice knowing you,” and I gave him the first and probably last hug we would
ever share.
         But at that moment, a new strength overwhelmed me. I felt a hundred times bigger. “ROUND THREE!”
And this time I jumped twenty feet into the air, gave the ball a huge kick, and scored my first goal using all of my
newfound power. Everyone was astounded, especially the giant. “ROUND THREE!” he bellowed and thrust the
ball towards the goal. But this time, I was prepared.
         “HI-YA!” I yelled, reflecting the ball at the same speed, now heading for the giant. And just like in PE, he
had to dodge out of the way, making my second goal.
         “FINAL ROUND!” whoever won this was the champion.
         This time I easily booted the ball towards his goal, but he had learned my tricks. He popped up in front of
the goal and mirrored my kick, almost knocking me out, I got back up and ran to my goal before he could shoot. I
stole the ball and dribbled up the field. This was it. I gave it the biggest, strongest kick into the goal that probably
anyone has ever seen. GOAL!
         “JAMIE WINS!” yelled the referee, “GAME OVER!”
         “No!” roared the giant, but sure enough, the cage fell apart and the sun was free. Percy was ecstatic.
         “Whoo! Yeah! Wahoo! Take that buddy!” he was dancing around, jumping for joy.
         “Thank you my friends!” the sun laughed, “You have set me free!” I blushed and Percy stared in awe.
         “But how?” I asked, because I had no idea.
         “You see, it was when you hugged Percy.” I was confused. “Have you ever heard of the power of love?”
         “Wait, but I don’t love Percy.” That was true.
         “I know, I’m talking about the power of friendship.” That made sense a little but I still had many
questions. I didn’t bother to ask them.
         “Now let’s get out of here!” he said looking around.
         As he took our hands, a rush of warmth spread through my body. Then together, we all burst through the
cave ceiling and up into the sky. After that it was all a blur, and before I knew it, Ming-Ming and I were back in
Tongs. Well it was Sunday, and I headed home to get ready for school, thinking about a sunny Spronze along the
way.
         The next morning as I stepped on the bus, not only did Spronze feel brighter but so did Tongs. No longer
cold and boring, but bright and exciting. I guess an adventure spices up your life. And as I passed the mansion,
this time the window represented the new Spronze, happy and warm. Percy was in the window looking at me with
joyful eyes. Then I winked at him. And I know no one else saw it, but he winked back.


                                          The Adventures of Clock Woman
                                                by Hollyn Cetrone

        “I haven’t heard from Annie for a long time. I wonder what scheme my evil twin is coming up with. I
hope she’s not trying to take over the world again,” Jessica offered, hoping to break the awkward silence between
her and Charlie. Charlie was her newly-found sidekick who always fiddled with her short, wavy, brown hair when
she was bored. And at that moment, that was exactly what she was doing. The two were relaxing at Jessica’s
house in her recently renovated living room, waiting for Karen to come. Jessica and Charlie had only been super-
hero partners since the beginning of last month, and the two seventeen-year old girls hadn’t found the time to
connect and become friends yet.
        It all started on a snowy December morning when Jessica was freezing her toes off, sitting on the living
room hardwood floor trying to warm up after shoveling the snow off the driveway. She had started her own fire,
and was ready sit down in peace to read a book while she tried to get warm. But, sadly, the fire had just died.
Jessica’s first reaction was anger, and then she had a strong longing to just go back in time three seconds ago to
keep the fire alive.
                                                                                                                 25

          Miraculously, right after she thought those exact words, Jessica found herself getting sucked into a
mini tornado. For a few seconds she experienced a feeling of nothingness, and then the whirlwind vanished and
she was in front of her dying fire. But the flames were still there, and that meant she had just gone back in time!
Now she didn’t care that the fire had just died again; she was filled with warmth at the thought of having special
powers--or a special power.
          She ripped her iPhone out of her pocket to text her best friend Karen about her amazing discovery. They
had been friends ever since they had been assigned to sit next to each other in Mrs. Macleonard’s kindergarten
class.
          Then she thought, “What is Karen going to say? Maybe I should just tell her in person.” So Jessica called
Karen and asked if she could come over that afternoon. That’s when she would tell Karen.
          After the plans were set, Jessica got ready and walked down the street to Karen’s house. Once inside,
Jessica decided she should wait awhile before she told her. The two girls baked chocolate chip cookies and
watched TV for awhile.
          “Do you think I can sleep over?’ Jessica asked as she took a bite of one of the cookies they had made. She
was starting to think that maybe she should wait a little longer.
          “Sure. Are your parents okay with it?”
          “They always let me. You know that,” Jessica responded. So she ran back home and grabbed her sleeping
bag. While she was there, she let her mom know that she was sleeping over at Karen’s.
          “Mom, can I tell you something?”
          “Is something wrong?” her mom asked with a voice full of concern.
          “Well, I found out that I can turn back time,” Jessica blurted. Her mom stood there with a blank look on
her face. That look turned to confusion, then to realization and shock. Jessica left before her mom could respond.
Hopefully, Karen would respond differently.
          That night, Jessica found herself in a game of “truth or dare” with Karen.
          “Truth or dare?” Karen whispered.
          Jessica stared. She hated dares, and had always picked “truth”. But tonight there was a chance of Karen
asking about her deepest, darkest secret. “Truth,” she finally said instantly regretting it.
          “Hmmm….What is your deepest, darkest secret?”
          ‘It’s like she can read my mind!’ Jessica thought. She knew it would be hard, but she would have to tell
her sometime.
          “Well, this morning I discovered I can turn back time. I don’t really know why I haven’t figured t out
sooner but ta da! That’s my secret,” Jessica posed with her arms in a “ta da” position.
          “You really think I’m going to believe you?” Karen said after a few seconds of staring.
          “Well-”
          “I actually do.” Karen cut Jessica off. “Do you know what this means? You can be a superhero! I think
you need to figure out a name for yourself, and of course you’ll need a sidekick. Can I make a costume for you?”
          That really surprised Jessica. Karen really knew a lot about superheroes.
          “Sure,” was all she could say.
          So by morning the two girls had named Jessica Clock Woman, and created her costume. She wore neon
yellow spandex with huge pink polka-dots. A mini cape reached down as long as her middle-of-the-back hair.
‘Clock Woman’ was embroidered across the back of the cape in big, bold, red letters. For her shirt, a clock
stretched across her chest, pumping its fist in the air with a confident look pasted on its face.
          “How much sleep did you girls actually get last night?” Karen’s mom asked, raising her left eyebrow.
          “Enough to live. Geez mom, just stop worrying,” Karen snapped back, just like a teenager.
          “Okay, come on Jess. We need to look in the yellow pages for Clock Woman’s sidekick.”
          “Really think it’s going to be in there?”
          “Everything is in the yellow pages. Come on!” Karen answered, serious about what she had just said.
          “Just lead the way.” Karen and Jessica walked down the hallway to her dad’s office in search of the
yellow pages.
          Once Karen found it, she flipped to the ‘superhero’ section. Yes, there was a superhero part in the book,
at least in Karen’s copy.
          “Look for sidekicks,” Jessica muttered.
          “I was already doing that!” Karen replied angrily, from lack of sleep.
          “Sorry.” Karen apologized and kept flipping.
                                                                                                                  26

         “Here it is. Oh, there’s a section of sidekicks who need a superhero partner. Do you want a sidekick
who can breathe underwater and talk to food, fly and has laser vision, or has the ability to go through things and
shape shifting,” Karen read through the long list, and finally Jessica decided on Charlie. Charlie had super
strength and invisibility.
         “She loves her name and enjoys playing soccer,” Jessica read off the page.
         “Why do they include that?” Karen asked. Jessica ignored the question and thought how she and Charlie
could become really good friends.
                                                            ***
         “Yeah, Annie probably is creating an evil scheme. I can sense it,” Charlie responded flatly. It seemed that
Charlie and Jessica hadn’t connected yet.
         More awkward silence. The light blue kitchen walls were begging the girls to talk. But no subjects came
to mind.
         “Well, I should see where Karen is with our doughnuts,” Jessica stood up. Not really concerned, but just
desperate to leave the terrible silence. Still, it had been awhile since Karen left to get their doughnuts from their
favorite- themed shop, “Ticky Tock’s Doughnut Shop.”
         Jessica walked outside, pulled out her cell phone and texted Karen. After waiting a few minutes for a
reply, she tried calling her.
         “Why isn’t Karen picking up?” she thought with real concern.
         “Hey, this is Karen. I’m sorry I can’t pick up my phone right now, so leave a message and I’ll call you
back later. Beep.”
         “Umm, Karen, this is Jessica wondering why you won’t pick up the phone! Sorry, I’m just worried why
you’re not back yet. Please call me back soon.” Jessica left her message.
         She walked back inside and gave Charlie her report on Karen, and how she wasn’t answering her phone.
She knew that Charlie right away would think of the worst scenario, but she really needed help with the situation.
Charlie stared back at Jessica with wide eyes; inside her mind was spinning, thinking of what could’ve happened
to Karen. “You know, Annie could have something to do with this. She could’ve kidnapped her! Should I check it
out?” Suddenly Charlie was excited and enthusiastic about having to save someone.
         “Sure, we could sneak over to Annie’s secret, evil hideout and check out what she’s up to. Her hideout is
the penthouse apartment, 214 Liveners Street,” Jessica explained going into Clock Woman mode. All she was
missing was her costume, but saving Karen was a first priority.
         “I’m on it,” Charlie saluted with pride.
         Up at Annie’s hideout, Charlie picked the lock on the front door silently like an expert. She sneaked in
without making any noise, and hid behind the kitchen island to check if the coast was clear.
         Annie seemed to be gone, so Charlie got up and searched the rooms for evidence of the evil scheme she
could be planning. After a few minutes of looking around, she still hadn’t found anything suspiciously evil. Then,
Charlie heard a key turn in the front door. She dove behind the living room couch and listened to the evil twin talk
on the phone.
         “Please Holly; I need you to get me those parts. Well, you know, just forget the please and be here in
twenty minutes. I’ll get the rest of the microchip ready,” Charlie saw Annie flip her Motorola shut with a satisfied
look on her face.
         Annie walked over to the bathroom door and pulled the knob down three inches. Charlie lifted an
eyebrow as she saw what she was doing. Next, Annie turned the knob, and another door appeared beside it! No
wonder Charlie hadn’t been able to find anything.
         Charlie went into invisibility mode and tiptoed across the room to the second door. She opened it slightly
and slipped in. Inside, she watched Annie create the microchip she had been talking about on the phone. Well, at
least that’s what Charlie thought it was.
         “Once Holly comes back with the clock pieces, I can finally finish the microchip! I just need to place it
back in the clock tower. And when the clock strikes noon, the microchip with send Earth back in time and I will
change history so that I’m in charge! I just know Clock Woman and her dorky sidekick will try to stop me. I know
they’ll come and save her little friend. By 12:01 p.m. I will rule the whole world!”
         “Oh my gosh, Annie talks to herself out loud! What my luck.” Charlie thought excitedly. Except the
problem was she now knew that Annie was trying to take over the world by noon. With all of her newfound
information, Charlie left to give her report on the situation to Jessica--or was she Clock Woman now that they
were fighting crime?
                                                                                                                  27

         Clock Woman,” Charlie burst through the door of Jessica’s house, “Annieistryingtotakeovertheworld
andshekidnappedKarenandIdon’tknowwheresheis.” Charlie was talking so fast, her words were slurred.
         “Would you mind repeating that?” was all Clock Woman could say.
         “Sorry. Annie is trying to take over the world by making a microchip with her partner, Holly. She still
needs to finish the microchip and put it back in the clock tower. You know, on North Main. At noon, the
microchip will be activated or something by the clock’s hands and Earth will go back in time. Charlie explained
the rest of the plan while Clock Woman listened intently. She had a worried look on her face and was thinking
hard.
         “I don’t know if we can stop her,” Clock Woman interrupted, “It’s 9:45 and that doesn’t give us very
much time. It’s only three hours and fifteen minutes to find Karen, save her, and not to mention stop Annie and
save the world.”
         Charlie looked back at Clock Woman with a look of sadness. Her light blue eyes were now gray;
depressed that Clock Woman didn’t have any hope that they could really do this.
         “But don’t you want to save Karen? Or at least try? We’re super heroes and that’s our job.”
         Clock Woman stared back. After a few silent seconds, she sighed deeply and said, “I’ll go change into my
costume.”
         Clock Woman started their chant that they said every time before starting their mission. “Tick to the
tock…”
         “…and time won’t stop,” Charlie followed.
         “Oh yeah!” They both yelled together.
          Charlie clapped; she and Clock Woman were now pumped and ready to save the world form Annie’s evil
plan.
         “All right, should I try and find Karen? I think she’s at the clock tower,” Charlie asked,. She really loved
her job--or maybe it was just a hobby, since they weren’t getting paid.
         “Sure, but could we do it together? You’ve done so much already while I’ve been sitting here worrying.”
         “Okay then,” Charlie replied warmly. The smile on her face seemed to say that the tension between the
two had finally broke.
         “Just don’t take too long to change,” she joked.
         Jessica ran up the staircase and changed into her costume. A few minutes later Jessica was officially
Clock Woman. The cape on her back was blowing behind her as she flew back down the steps to meet up with
Charlie.
         “Come on!” Charlie grabbed Clock Woman’s hand and pulled her out the front door. Her skinny legs had
trouble keeping up with Charlie’s toned track muscles as they ran down the street, entering the city’s hustle and
bustle.
         “You can do it; the clock tower isn’t that far away,” Charlie reassured Clock Woman, seeing that she was
starting to lose steam.
         Sure enough, within two minutes they were staring up at the huge clock face. The time was 10:01 a.m.
So that gave them exactly one hour and fifty-nine minutes to stop Annie.
         “Okay…so…you…go...up….to the…top...and I’ll…be right…behind…you,” Clock Woman managed to
instruct between pants.
         “You know there’s an elevator,” Charlie pointed out.
         Clock Woman responded by walking past her and into the building’s elevator. Charlie came in a few
seconds later and pushed the top floor button. The doors closed, and the girls got down to business.
         “Allright, this is the plan. I’ll go and look for Karen. Charlie, you go to Annie’s penthouse and try to
destroy her microchip. Okay? Good,” Clock Woman ordered.
         “Wait a second. Why am I at the clock tower then?” Charlie asked, stepping out of the elevator.
         “You’re right. Change of plans, you and I find Karen, and as soon as one of us sees her, you leave and
stop Annie. Because, you know, this is a big place.” Clock Woman held out her arms, making her point.
         “Okay, I’ll look over to the left side of the floor, and Clock Woman, you look by the big clock and clock
parts,” Charlie directed, now taking charge.
         Clock Woman ignored Charlie’s bossiness, walked over to her side of the floor, started turning over huge
boxes, and looked around over-sized clock parts. After about fifteen minutes of looking, her hands were covered
in grease from touching all of the clock parts, and she was starting to think Karen might be somewhere else.
                                                                                                                   28

Clock Woman sat on one of the boxes and sighed deeply. It was now 10:27, and she and Charlie hadn’t found
Karen--or stopped her evil twin yet!
         “Oh my gosh, Jessica, I mean Clock Woman, I found her!” Charlie screeched.
         Clock Woman ran around in circles trying to find Charlie and Karen frantically, because Karen was her
best friend, and she wanted to know that she was all right and safe.
         “Over here,” Charlie shouted. She really needed to get out of there and stop Annie.
         Clock Woman rushed over in the direction of Charlie’s voice.
         “Karen,” Clock Woman said to her. “You’re okay!”
          Karen’s mouth was covered with a piece of duct tape, so all that came out of her mouth were a lot of
muffled jabberwocky.
         “Clock Woman, when you’ve untied Karen, take her back home and come over to Annie’s hideout. Just
in case I need backup. ‘Kay?” Charlie left while Clock Woman started untying Karen. But little did she know,
Annie had set a trap.
         As soon as Clock Woman put her hands on Karen to untie the ropes that bound her, the wooden floor
boards she was kneeling on dissolved. Clock Woman plummeted down twenty feet and landed with a dulled thud
on top of a mattress.
         “That’s weird” she thought, “Annie must want me trapped and captured instead of dead.”
         Clock Woman walked around the tiny storage room she was locked in, looking for a way out. A mop and
broom were the only resources she had to work with in the room. She sighed and sat down on the floor. Clock
Woman looked at her watch, and instantly a defeated feeling washed over her as she saw the time--11:09 AM.
         “Charlie please come back soon!” she thought.
         Meanwhile, Charlie was jogging over to Annie‘s penthouse. Sadly, there wasn’t an elevator in this
building. So, Charlie started her long journey up the nine flights of stairs. When she finally reached the top, it
was 10:48, and even with her muscled legs, she was exhausted.
         “Okay, it’s time to get down to business,” Charlie told herself, after resting for a few minutes to catch her
breath. She speed-walked down the hallway to the front door of Annie’s apartment. Again, she picked the lock on
the door and tiptoed inside. This time, Annie was inside and in her secret next-to-the-bathroom room. So, Charlie
turned invisible, leaned against the outside of the special room, and listened to what was happening inside.
Every few seconds, Annie would mutter to herself a few incomprehensible words.
         She decided that it was time to go inside for a closer look. She opened the door and slipped in. The door
squeaked slightly, and Charlie held her breath as Annie glanced at the door for a few seconds. Luckily, Charlie
had quickly shut the door without it squeaking before Annie had noticed the door had opened.
         “That was close,” Charlie thought, not daring to say anything aloud. She inched ever so slowly closer to
Annie, trying to get as better view of what she was working on. Annie babbled a few words under her breath.
Still, Charlie could not understand her. But, Charlie could see the microchip. It looked like Annie was almost
done with it.
         “Maybe it’s time for me to destroy her microchip, it is almost 11:00 and Annie is almost done. I could
un-turn invisible, use my super strength to grab the microchip, and crush it with my bare hands,” Charlie
brainstormed. She thought some more, and then put her plan into action.
         “One, two, three,” she said aloud.
         Annie turned her head, but it was too late. Charlie had swiped the microchip from the table, and,
following the steps of her plan, crushed it with her super strength.
         “Looks like I’m done here,” Charlie shouted as she ran out the door, and out of the apartment. She
sprinted down the stairs, and only stopped when she was safely back at the clock tower. Luckily, Annie didn’t
follow her, or just lost sight of Charlie and gave up. She would have to go back later and trap Karen with Jessica.
         “Why do I have to be such a bad super hero?” Clock Woman said aloud, frustrated with herself for getting
stuck in the janitor’s closet.
         “Wait a minute. I am a superhero! Why don’t I just turn back time? I am stupid, why didn’t I think of that
earlier?” She shot right out of her chair, and did her thing. The whirlwind swept her up as she thought hard about
turning back time. When the swirling feeling finally stopped, she found herself standing by Karen--out of the
janitor’s closet.
         “Yes!” she silently said pumping her fist victoriously.
                                                                                                                   29

         “Karen, now I’m going to get you out of here. Hold on a second.” She caught herself before she
touched the ropes. She walked around behind the tied up Karen, avoiding the dissolving floor boards. She took
out her Swiss Army knife and cut Karen loose. Karen jumped up and hugged her.
         She ripped off the duct tape and said, “That was terrible. One second I was walking on Jenkins Ave.
carrying the doughnuts, and the next I was forced inside a huge carrot sack. Thanks so much for saving me Jess!
My hands were turning red from the ropes rubbing against them, and I can finally breathe through my mouth
again,” She leaned over and gave Jessica another huge hug.
         “Karen, you know I still have to go help Charlie,” Jessica explained. “I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to
leave you again and help her”
         “Wait, why can’t I just come with you? Because, I did help you become a super hero,” Karen argued. She
loved the idea of being a superhero, but she just didn’t have any powers. Of course Jessica knew this, so hopefully
she would let Karen come along.
         “Okay then, but we have to hurry. Charlie may need backup while dealing with Annie,” Jessica warned
her.
         “Yes!” Karen loudly said.
         They both headed toward the elevator; an aura of serious determination was floating around them. Jessica
impatiently waited for the elevator to come up.
         “Seriously, why is this taking so long? I hate to say it, but I think that we might have to take the stairs,”
Jessica confessed.
         “I’m up for the challenge; there is nothing that can stop me,” Karen said with confidence. And won that
note, they ascended the nine flights of stairs.
         Just when they had passed the fourth floor, Charlie came sprinting up and collided with Jessica. Then
Jessica stumbled backwards and knocked Karen to the ground.
         “Whoa! Ow!” all three of them screamed in the hubbub.
         “Wait, Charlie, you’re back. Did you foil Annie’s plan? Why aren’t you still back at her hideout?” Jessica
demanded.
         “Sorry, I did stop Annie. But then she started to run after me, and I got all scared and I don’t really know
what happened to her. I just ran over here to get you so we both could take Annie to your mom and tell her what
bad things she’s been doing,” Charlie explained, letting it all out.
         She thought she had been doing the right thing, but Jessica had other plans.
         Jessica took a deep breath and managed to say with out getting mad, “I see where you were going with
your plan, but now you realize that Annie could be anywhere. She could be trying to take over the world in a
whole different way.”
          Jessica stared at Charlie silently, holding in her anger. Charlie stared at the ground, unable to look at
Jessica.
         “How stupid can I get?’ Charlie thought to herself.
         “Okay, so how can we fix this huge mistake? Sorry, I’m going to stop doing that. I know I’m acting a
little mean. It’s just that you weren’t acting like a superhero when you made that decision. Wait a minute! You
and I are superheroes. I can just turn back time for you to go back and not let Annie get away,” Jessica said. This
was just like getting stuck in the janitor’s closet. Charlie’s face broke out into a smile.
         “Okay, I’ll just tie her up and wait for you guys to get there.”
         “Jess, you know that we’re going to have walk down all these stairs again,” Karen pointed out.
         “You’re right, but we still have to trap Annie. It’s going to be worth it. Here we go,” Jessica warned them.
The tornado enveloped them, and a dizzy feeling filled all of their heads.
         “That was weird,” Charlie head, holding her head with her hands to clear the woozy feeling. She was
back at Annie’s penthouse.
         “This is going to be easy,” Charlie reassured herself. She turned invisible and walked into the secret room
quietly. She waited a few seconds and then.
         Smash! The microchip was demolished. She saw a rope piled in the corner, quickly grabbed it and tied
Annie up.
         “This really was easy!” she thought. And with that thought, she ran back to the clock tower and met
Karen and Jessica.
                                                                                                                   30

                            At Ticky Tock’s Doughnut Shop Later That Afternoon
       “And that’s how I trapped Annie!” Charlie told them all. After the three of them had brought Annie to her
mom’s house, they celebrated at Ticky Tock’s with well earned doughnuts.
       “I still remember the look on your mom’s face Jess!” Karen remarked, “She was furious! And remember
Annie’s look of horror when your mom said she would be grounded for the next four years of her life?”
       Charlie and Jessica nodded. They were too full of jelly-filled doughnuts to do anything else. The day’s
work was done, and both of them were so ready for their next mission.


                                               Rings of the Prophecy
                                                 by Kristen Chan

          A light flickered through a window and into the blackness of the night. When the light flickered off, a tall
shadow cast its image on the wall. But when it flickered on, no sign of a shadow was there. He was not human at
all. Inside, one of the thirteen council members had a decision to make. Pacing back and forth, his eyes finally lit
up. Sitting back down in his brown oak chair, he started to write the prophecy of the three rings. This would come
true in seven-hundred years. Sealing the prophecy with the number thirteen and dragon in red glittering wax, he
cast the final spell.
          In the same realm, where your dreams can come true, chaos hid behind the most ordinary places. In a
moss covered shack size house, celebration filled the air.
          “Happy birthday, Pearl!” cheered Pearl’s foster parents. Pearl had been an orphan since she was four.
Those memories she could remember haunted her.
          “Since it is your fourteenth birthday, we promised we would give you this.” Both her parents knelt and
bowed, holding out a night-black velvet bag.
          Pearl thought they had lost their minds. 'Why are they bowing down to me? I mean I am not that
important, am I?' she questioned herself. Questions swirled around in her mind as if it was a tornado. As Pearl felt
the bag, she noticed a smooth circular object. Pulling the drawstrings, curiosity grew stronger and stronger inside
her. Then, a white shimmering glow reflected on Pearl’s face as she gasped with wonder and surprise.
          At the other end of the kingdom, where castles towered over houses like mountains and pierced the blue
morning sky, even though the room was high up, you could hear the joyous cries saying:
          “Happy birthday, Indigo!” hollered the servants and her parents, the king and queen. Indigo smiled with
greed: for she was flat-out spoiled, and she and everyone else knew it. If Indigo didn’t get what she wanted, a rant
would occur. Indigo’s rants didn’t cool down until she got her way. Sometimes, the ground would shake with fear
when there was a rant.
          Surrounded by the most exquisite and expensive satin ribbon, silk, gowns, and jewelry, lay her last gift. It
stared at her, wondering why it was last. “This better be good-- it is small,” she muttered through her clenched
teeth. She saw a black velvet drawstring bag. Greedily, she fiercely yanked open the bag. A sky blue glow
reflected on her face and seemed to laugh at her dismay.
          Over the waving, calm seas, stood an isolated island where one last girl awaited for her gift. Gritty sandy
beaches bordered the vast deep jungles inside. One would think a tropical isolated island would not be peaceful
and a lone, but it was home to the last girl.
          “Amber,” said a squirrel with a high annoying voice. "Your parents told us to give it to you on your
fourteenth birthday.”
          Every plant and animal in Amber’s path bowed down, showing their loyalty. Where were her parents?
They were forever lost at sea and had been gone for six years, leaving her by herself. Her bag was night black
with missing patches of velvet. Amber carefully opened her bag, thinking she would tear it apart and pulled out
the most beautiful thing her eyes had ever seen.
          Each girl was told that she must leave her home and only return when chaos was chased out. Only Pearl,
Indigo, and Amber could stop the chaos.
          The guardians of each girl added, “Tonight you will meet the other girls under the tallest tree in Garden
Meadows. Remember that they are your enemies and you can’t trust them.”
          The girls nodded their heads and slammed the door on their warm memories of home and family.
                                                     ----------------
                                                                                                                  31

         “We are losing Pia again! HELP!!! We are losing her!!!!!” frantically cried the nurse. “Get the doctor
now!”Her frantic screams echoed through the halls and in Pia’s head. They filled the hospital with fear, chaos,
and possibly death.
         Beep. Beeep. Beeeep… Each beep was growing longer. Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep... I knew at that moment my
life was almost over. I fear Death. I can hear the word ring in my mind. I am scared now, like a little kid is sacred
of the dark. Why is this happening to me? Why??? WHY??? No one could hear my questions, instead they echoed
through my head. Loneliness filled my heart as I knew this could be it…
                                                       -----------------
         “Who are you?” Indigo was bewildered at the sight of the other girls. One of the girls had honey-blonde
hair waving down her back like a golden waterfall. Twinkling sky blue eyes seem to sparkle in a world of wonder.
Cherry-red lips curled up as if they were a question mark. The sea blue cloth went well with her olive skin tone.
She also looked strong, from working in the fields or something. The girl was almost perfect. This made Indigo
green with envy.
         The other girl had milk-chocolate brown hair that fell down her back and reminded Indigo of a cliff.
Peach-colored lips didn’t match her hazel eyes that gleamed with bewilderment. Her pale skin stood out from her
tulip purple dress. This girl was as slim as a snake. Her delicate skin made her look like a vampire in the sun.
Then the two girls took a step closer to Indigo without any warning.
         Backing away, Indigo managed to stumble out, “S-sstay a-away!!! I am the guardian of the-the…” She
pulled out a sapphire ring that twinkled in the strong sun. “Be gone evil demons!!!”
         As she held out the ring, the others girls began to laugh. Laugher made them look like manic hyenas.
         “Indigo, we are too,” said the one with the brown hair.
         “How do you know my name? And is this a trick??” she argued back as she stomped her foot like a little
child.
         Then the girl with the brown hair pulled out a topaz ring that also shone in the sunlight. Yet when you
touched it, it was as cold as ice. “I am Amber and this is Pearl.” Pearl gave a little shy wave. “We have been
waiting for a long time you know.”
         “I also have a ring,” stuttered Pearl. She held out her hand, and on her ring finger was a glossy, milky
pearl. “Um… So what are we going to do?”
                                                      ------------------
         Why am I here? Pia questioned herself. I just had the strangest dream. Three girls, Pearl, Indigo, and
Amber. Huh? That’s funny; the first letter of their names spells my name. I can’t remember why I am here. I think
I remember what I look like. Night black hair and have what???? I now am brave and I am moving closer to the
edge of the cliff. Once I fall, I am dead.
                                                     -------------------
         “Amber, are you sure we are going the right way?”asked Indigo in a childish voice. She had never
thought that the world would be that scary.
         “Don’t tell me that you never been in a forest,” joked Amber.
         “You’re kidding, right?” gasped Pearl.
         “Well, I never been outside that palace walls and aah!” screamed Indigo.
         Pearl and Amber rushed to her side to see what the matter was.
         “Are you okay? What happened?” cried Pearl.
         “My dress is ruined for sure! This is the worst day I’ve ever had!!” Indigo said between sobs.
         “Is that why you screamed, and made us run to your side and think we had to aid you? Well, that’s…”
snarled Amber, but then she was cut off.
         “Shhh. The generals are there!” hushed Pearl. Fear took control of their bodies and made them shake
unceasingly. What was about to happen next was even worse than before.
                                                    ---------------------
         Beep, beeep, Beeeep, beep, beep, beeeeep… At first I thought I was going to lose to Death, but then the
beeps sounded normal again. Shortly after, getting longer once again. I am edging closer again, and I didn’t
know why. Is it because I am really weak or it because I just don’t want to? Pia, get a hold of yourself! Seriously,
listen to what you are saying. But, why me? How come I can’t open my peridot green eyes again? I want to wake
up now. When will this nightmare end?
                                                     -------------------
         “Okay, Indigo. You know your job, right?” questioned Amber.
                                                                                                                  32

          “Ummm… No! What is it again?” smiled Indigo showing all of her teeth. She was hoping that she
would get a better job instead of the one she had.
          “You’re the bait. You know, like when you are fishing,” commented Pearl. “Don’t tell me you never have
been fishing before.” Pearl now wished she hadn’t said that. She knew that Indigo was a great arguer and could
win this. ‘What if Indigo tries to get revenge on me?’ Pearl thought. She hadn’t trusted Indigo since the moment
she saw her black hair.
          “What?!? That’s so not…” screamed Indigo.
          “Shhh. They’ll hear you.” interrupted Amber. ‘Why does she think she is in charge? I don’t trust her at
all. I think she could be a traitor!’ thought Amber and then she were interrupted by Indigo again.
          “We do we start?” sighed Indigo, shaking her head.
          “We start now!” Amber shoved Indigo into the clearing. ‘Ha! That takes care of her!’
          “But, Amber,” squeaked Pearl. “Weren’t we suppose to wait until nightfall?”
          “Oh my gosh! You’re right! Let’s hope that everything is going well…”
          Meanwhile Indigo was…
          “Help! Some one help me!” hollered Indigo. Why didn’t she wait until nightfall? What a brat! Hope this
works… In the distance she could hear the thump of the footsteps.
          “Who’s there?” called a man’s voice.
          “Come here! I need your help!” answered Indigo.
          “What’s wrong?” the same man called, coming closer.
          “Three girls were, um, trying to destroy some campsite,” Said Indigo.
          “Ha, ha, ha, ha…” he stopped himself. “ Where are they?” he smiled
          “Follow me…” she pointed into the forest.
          “Pearl, are you sure this will work?” questioned Amber.
          “Yeah. I am 99.9% sure.” She grinned but, something troubled her mind.
          “What’s the 0.1%?”
          “Um… well… Shhh! Here comes Indigo!” she whispered back.
          “They were right over…” Indigo started.
          “Aah!” two familiar voices cried.
          “He, heh, hee?” Indigo nervously laughed.
          Then two guards came back with Pearl and Amber. Fear swam in her eyes, knowing that she was the
other victim. “Guards!! Sieze her!” yelled General Toungue.
          “Caesar? Like who is Caesar?” said Amber jokingly. “And by the way is it March 15?”
          “This means war!” General Toungue declared. When his guards dragged him away, he muttered under his
breath, “This does mean war!”
                                                   ---------------------
          Why me? Pia, you are going insane! You can get out of this mess. Why did you agree to have surgery? Is
that why I am here? Am I dreaming or what? Beep, beeeeeep, beeeeeeeeeep… I can hear those stupid beeps
echoing through my head. I wish I could be waked up now and walk again.
          “Pia, can you hear me?” A familiar voice touched my ears gently. “Pia,” someone snuffled, “just wake
up!” Look, I really wish I could buddy!
                                                   ---------------------
          “It’s your fault! Why did you drag me into this?” Tears wetted Indigo’s face.
          “Hey! You agreed to do this!” argued Amber.
          “Both of you stop at once!” screamed Pearl. Now was her time to have her say in this. “Do you think it is
fair to me? Do you?” A lake of tears spilled on the dead leaves at the bottom of the quiet forest floor. Pearl turned
around and ignored the world. “Don’t even talk to me!” she sobbed and stomped away, hoping that her problem
would be gone and never mentioned again.
          “But, Pearl…” Indigo chased after her.
          “No buts any more. Now leave me alone!” cried Pearl as she tried again to run away from her problem.
Running deeper into the woods, she found herself alone and devastated. Her foster parents were right not to trust
anyone. She felt in her heart, a large gap that could never be filled. She cried even more. Trying to hold the tears
in, she heard leaves crunching towards her.
          “Pearl? Are you okay? Well, we have been thinking that you could, um…” started Indigo.
          “You know. Be like our leader?” finished Amber.
                                                                                                                   33

         “Well, I guess I could never turn down that offer!” Pearl wiped her tears and hugged Amber and
Indigo. She felt that emptiness in her heart being filled again. Wiping the last of the tears, she tried to hide the
fear.
                                                     ----------------
         Why can’t I wake up? This is not fair! I want or be with the other kids, playing or at least going to school!
I would trade anything for my life right now. I would love to see Australia again. I can only wish right now.
Beeeep, beeeeeep, Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep… I am fighting once again. I know that I am hanging on to the edge of the
cliff: barely hanging on. With Death in the halls stalking me, I am scared once again, like a child afraid of the
dark…
                                                     ----------------
         “We need everyone to help us. Get almost this whole town.” Pearl declared.
         Suddenly, the bold sounds of the horn pierced their ears. “Message for Indigo!!” announced the royal
messenger. “We will meet at Dawn’s Meadow at midday. Bring your armies and we will fight to our death!”
                                                      ---------------
         “Mommy, Daddy, I am scared. Do I really have to do this?”
         “Yes, honey. You’ll do great.” Insisted my mom. Then, a woman in a mask that covered her mouth and in
a, turquoise moss colored suit dragged me away into my doom.
         “Mommy! Daddy!” I cried for the last time. I saw their worried smiles on their faces.
Aaaahhhh! I really wanted to scream, but I was too weak. Those three girls are like my life, and the general is like
my Death. The word Death always rings in my ears. If they lose, I die for good…
                                                      ---------------
         “How the heck are we going to get an army?” panicked Indigo.
         “We really don’t know Indigo. It’s not like you’re helping either!” snapped Amber.
         “Excuse me! I was the one who almost made us get…” bickered Indigo.
         “No! You almost got us killed! Right, Pearl?” Amber raised an eyebrow, expecting to have her agree with
her comment.
         “Um. Never, right Pearl?” responded Indigo.
         “I don’t agree with either of you! Both of you will get us killed for sure! Get along or else!” Pearl flicked
her honey-golden hair as she turned away with dismay. “Can’t we end this stupid agreement? Can we?”
         “Fine, but it is her…” snapped Indigo.
         “Stop it! Yes we will end this on one condition,” sighed Pearl.
         “What?” Amber and Indigo pleaded
         “You two will have to stop fighting and somewhat trust each other. Deal?” Pearl crossed her arms like she
expected them to make the mature decision.
         “Deal!” said Amber, shaking hands with Pearl.
         “Now back to our battle plan. We need the Italian dragons to attack the front part. And the Theaans to get
the back. Then, that will distract them. We also need the…” she whispered the rest, just to be safe.
                                                     ----------------
         Beeep, beeeeeep, beeeeeeeep, beep, beep… “Doctor! She’s holding on, just barely. Do you think that she
could survive?”
         “Yes. But, it’s God’s game now. Take her or save her.”
         Those words haunted me. But, what the doctor said was true. It is his choice now. Or was it?
                                                     ----------------
         “I am confident,” Pearl replied back. “Well, actually nervous…”
         “Whatever!” exclaimed Pearl.
         “What if this doesn’t work? What would happen?” panicked Indigo. Her breath grew heavier and heavier
each minute. And her pounding heart thumped so loud that it could be mistaken for war drums.
         “There are always the other girls, in about, I’ll say seven hundred years!” joked Amber. ‘This is so
funny,’ thought Amber.
         “There is no time for jokes Amber and Indigo,” Pearl said strictly. “While, you to were joking, we lost
half an hour! It was a perfect time for planning.” ‘This isn’t fair to me! Don’t they get the message already? It’s
like they are beheaded or something. So clueless…’ Pearl was interrupted by Amber clearing her throat.
         “You’re right. We are really sorry.” Amber shook her head in disappointment.
                                                                                                                    34

           “No time for apologies. We have to get the dwarfs in the second row. The dragons can go in rows three
and twelve.” command Pearl. She peered out of the tent to see it was an hour before dawn. “Get everyone up!
Wake them up and we’ll have to be organized. Tell them to put on their armor on proto!”
                                                          ----------------
           This might be my last moments of life. Pia, you can stay strong. I know we can hold on longer to the edge
of the cliff. It’s God’s big finality now. The end is approaching. My, maybe, last hours spent in battle between life
and Death. I never thought I was going to die this way at this young. But, how old am I?
                                                          ----------------
           Cling, clang, click, cling, clang, click. The sounds of the girls’ army was approaching slowly to the battle
field. Butterflies swarmed in everyone’s stomach. But, in this army, there was no white flag. As they marched, the
sunny morning sky hid behind the clouds. Darkness swallowed the light, showing how much more powerful it
was. Yet, the sounds were drowning the evil in the realm. As they approached the valley, they saw grasses
fiercely waving good-bye, and the winds and rocks giving their backs to the sky. Amber, Indigo, and Pearl
inhaled deeply, knowing there was no turning back.
           “And it soon begins. Life or death!” Amber bravely announced. Tears flooded her hazel eyes. ‘How can I
take this?’ Amber wondered with fear and the unhappy endings. ‘What if’ questions swirled around in her mind
like a whirlpool.
           Boom Boom Boom! They were coming this way, this time for real. Their footsteps echoed through out
the valley.
                                                        -------------------
           Here we go. The battling is starting now. I’ll never surrender to Death. He will never get my life this way.
Beep, beeep, beeeep. Death is coming faster then expected. Yet, I will stride through and live my life again. For
the first time in awhile, I’ll see the world n a new way. Is this what Death is like? How should I know? This might
be my last time or the first time. I know that “hope is the thing with feathers”. But, was it the Grand Finish? How
will I ever know? Beeeeeeeps drained my thought and now we began the battle. And finally see the last act…
                                                      ----------------------
           Buuuul! The signal for the battle. It brought fear, sorrow and bravery, because now there was no turning
back. This is the last act of this, they hoped.
           “Charge!!” hollered General Toungue, pointing with his sword towards the girls. An evil grin spread
across his face, knowing he would be the worst fear of all.
           “Charge!” Yelled Amber. Leading them to battle, she ran far in front of them trying to show her courage.
But Amber was also leading them to a world of life or death. Roars from the girls matched their feelings. “This is
it. Our fates: either our doom or happily ever after.” she whispered to Pearl.
           Pearl led the dragons and walking trees into the middle of General’s army. She was sitting high up on one
of the trees, fourth branch from the top. Their leaves seem to shake with fear, but they stood brave and bold. And
they frightened one fourth of the General’s army.
           “For the protection of the forest!” cried one of the trees.
           As that was happening, gasps from Indigo’s side rose up into the air without warning.
                                                             ----------
           The nurses are rushing in. I can hear their frantic cries for help. Each beep is counting down to my end. I
fell a little off the cliff, but caught myself. Holding on to life is making me weaker. Too weak that I might give up
finally.                                                    ----------
           Blood was splattered in the snow, staining it as a memorial of this battle. They had taken the fight to the
mountains. But Indigo lay still and silent for a long time. Was she dead? No, but so close. The people of Bivertila
frantically called for help.
            “Um…” They all stared at her with amazement. “Keep g-going.” Her voice cracked, but she stood
strong. One of General Tounguue’s nomads had stabbed her in the side. She fell back and wobbled, and then
caught herself. You could almost mistake her for a drunken person. Finally, she collapsed with weakness and had
remained still.
           “Pearl, our armies are almost gone. Should we retreat?” gasped a dwarf.
           Without hesitation she yelled, “Retreat! Retreat!” ‘Wait!’ she thought. ‘Is General Toungue here to get
all of us in one area so he can finally defeat us?’
                                                      ----------------------
                                                                                                                 35

         “I think she is done for. Her last minutes of life are ticking away.” sighed the doctor. “So young, so
beautiful. But, she has been trapped in a coma in a hospital. Her tan skin has turned a ghostly pale. I guess it’ll
end this way.”
         “I am going to miss her so much. I shouldn’t have been so attached to her,” calmly said the nurse. “It
would be a miracle to have her alive…”
         Yes, it would be wonderful for me. I could hear their footsteps fade in the distance and maybe for the last
time…                                               ---------------------
         There was a two day truce for the armies.
         “We need a new plan, and pronto!” declared Indigo.
         “Well, what went wro-” Amber was interrupted by Pearl.
         “That stupid general is trying to kill our armies and save us for last!” Pearl panicked. She wore a mask of
fear.
         “I have an idea that might work,” Joa, who was a cheetah, declared. “Why don’t you write a message
that…”
         “Genius, Joa!!!” exclaimed Amber. “Here’s what we’ll write.”
         On the other side of the battlefield…
         “General, Message for you from the enemies!”
         “What is it?” he looked up from his new plan.
         “They want an one-on-one battle with you!” he exclaimed.
         “I accept their offer.” He grinned an evil one. “Just what I wanted…” he laughed. Soon he thought, the
kingdom will be mine!
                                                       --------------
         What the heck were they thinking? That is so stupid, thought Pia. I mean, Omigosh! Seriously, OMG!
Why can’t I see my real world again? I don’t want to see my world of fantasy, but the real inspiration. I wish the
battle would be over, and the girls would win. I hope I really, really, really hope so…
                                                       --------------
         Clouds hid the dawn’s sun and sky. Divided by space, the two armies met with a haunting silence that
made it eerie, and yet peaceful. The armies glared at each other, suspicious of one another.
         Amber stepped into the chalk-drawn ring. She felt brave and proud because of the cheering for her. But
General Toungue stepped into the ring, bringing fresh fear. Leaning close to her he whispered in a hoarse voice,
“And we begin!” With that he pushed her into a gray, cracked stone.
         Rubbing her head she realized she had something, “The ring!” she muttered. Taking it out of her purse,
she felt strength grow, but she was still weak. Charging at her with the sword, the General, himself though he got
her.
         “Gotta!” he shirked.
         Then, her topaz ring spit out a bubble. Stopping himself , the General laughed. With each laugh the
bubble grew bigger and bigger until it was the size of a exercise ball. His eyes widened with fear. With the bubble
blasting towards him, he stood there in total shock. When the bubble hit him, Amber leaned over and said quietly,
“You lost.” As she stepped out of the ring, cheers from her army rose. Running towards her with his sword, he
stabbed her in the side.
          “It was over you idiot!!! I stepped out of the ring and you admit your defeat!”
         “Rules are meant to be broken,” he glared at her.
                                                        -------------
         So far life is winning over Death. I have a good chance of survival. I can pull through this. I know I can.
         “Pia? Can you hear me?” that voice I heard before, but where? “Pia, this is your friend, Kristina. I know
you can pull through. Sorry, I haven’t seen you.” And then she left me in the room by myself. Kristina! Come back
and stay with me! I wanted to yell. But, my voice only echoed in my head.
                                                       --------------
         Indigo had lost her battle. So, Pearl would decide the fate. They were planning to have Indigo win the
second one. Pearl was displeased with Indigo’s failed attempted. Now she was afraid that she might lose like
Indigo had.
         When she entered the ring, she felt fear crawl up her back. The enemies glanced at each other like they
didn’t want to go on. Drops of rain fell like spears to the ground. Glaring back at each other, they saw something
the audience didn’t see: fear and courage.
                                                                                                                  36

                                                       ------------------
         More beeps are counting down to my last hopes. One beep is longer than the last and less each time. I
wish I had another life. Why does life chose to treat me this way? Why? WHY?
                                                         -----------------
         “GOTTA!” General Tounguue shrieked. Gleaming at Pearl, he loved it that she shook with fear. Easy, he
thought. “Pearl, prepare to…” Before he could finish his sentence, Pearl slammed him against the stone brick wall
with great force.
         “Giving up now?” Pearl taunted like a child and turned around thinking she had won. The general tried to
attack her, but she wasn’t there.
         “Huh?” He scratched his head.
         Suddenly, Pearl jumped out from behind whispering a mysterious language. Her head bent down. He
couldn’t figure out where she was. Once again he tried to attack, but only to be beaten.
         Looking up Pearl knew what was going to happen. General Toungue charged at her with the speed of a
cheetah, his eyes focused on his target. Holding out her hand, a bolt of white light struck out in front of her,
making the general cringe with fear.
         Running back, General Toungue tried to escape, only to find that the lightning was following him like a
dog. Stopping, he thought, would get rid of it. Once he stopped, so did the lightening. “Looks like it…” A bolt of
lightning, hit him with great force, ending the battle of the realm. Taking one deep breath, Pearl felt so proud and
important. The sky cleared up, showing the blinding rays of the sun. Smiling, she knew that this was never to be
forgotten.
                                                          ---------------
         After Pearl won the battle for them, I feel so much stronger. I think I have won the battle. But the beeps,
were going longer as well. Opening my eyes for the first time in two years, I saw a binding light. I couldn’t tell if
it was the hospital’s lights over head or the true, beautiful light known as heaven. I felt free finally after two
years…


                                                   Nazi Zombies
                                                 by Michael Noack

         The first time I saw a zombie was when I was thirteen, and it had been two years since the infection had
hit. My own uncle fell to the floor, and his hair started to fall off. Then a bunch of people with guns came, took us
away in this truck, and drove off. They injected me and my uncle with a kind of green water. For my uncle it was
too late; his skin turned purple, and he started attacking one of the doctors, ripping off his clothes. The soldiers
nearby came running. They threw him into a cage and shot him. I knew what had to be done to save the world
                                                 Year 2043: Germany
         It’s been twenty years since Pogul and I have been trapped in this zombie-infected place. He and I have
been trying to find the tunnel they said would take us back home to the protected city. We have been sent here to
guard this city, but it was already infested by thousands of slaves, peasants, workers, merchants, and farmers. We
are running out of ammunition food, and our hope.
         “Open that basement door!” I shouted,
         “I’m on it,” Pogul shouted back
         It was 2:05 AM when the attack on our base begun. Hundreds of bloodthirsty zombies came running out
of the dark and started taking out the barriers. While Pogul went downstairs to get more ammo, I was on the main
level keeping back the zombies. Our 357 Magnum Desert eagle .50 Caliber was all that we had, but it was still
very good. Pogul finally got back. We took out so many zombies, but they just kept coming.
         “We need to get out of here!” I said
         “Take as much ammo as you can carry. We are taking the back entrance ,” Pogul shouted
         As we raced down, we could hear the zombies ripping through the barriers. We ran and ran, killing as
many zombies as we could. We went into a hotel that looked safe; we went up to the top floor and made barriers.
We broke the windows so that our guns could stick out of them. It was quiet, so we decided to get some rest. In
the morning we would explore. We had to find some more guns so we could take the zombies out from long
range.
                                                                                                                  37

         In the morning it was a little bit foggy and not too hot, with clouds in the sky. We expected it to rain, so
we decided to camp out in the hotel and explore it to see if the residents had guns food or ammo. Guns at the
ready, we slowly made our way down the stairs. We first came across a room that looked like a kitchen; it had
pans and a lot of food. We would come get the food later; first we must find if they had guns or ammo to keep us
safe.
         As we entered the first floor, we looked over the counter, and there was a trench shotgun and extra ammo
for it. We also got the food before going up to the top floor. We got the barrier fixed and piled more furniture up
to help it. We were going to make plans to find another place to be and to search for a sniper gun. We looked
around the top floor but all we found was books and toys from kids on the floor. We also found a rope leading out
to the ground and onto what looked like a trail. This was interesting since it looked to be made last night. We
would follow it tomorrow. Now we would regain our health and try our new shotgun.
         The next day we went down the rope and followed the trail it was through the woods. It was three in the
afternoon, so we knew we were safe from the zombies; they only came out what it was eight at night. The trail
was all in curves and then there were many footsteps running in all direction, when we got closer we started to see
what looked like blood. It looked like there had been fighting with blood everywhere. As we followed the trail
more we feared the worst; there were only three sets of footprints, and they looked like they were running, on the
side. There were these odd lines after the fight and we knew what had happened. They got attacked by zombies
when they were going at night. Some of them got turned into zombies, and others were running away.
         We followed the trail until it stopped all of a sudden; there were three lines that looked like something
was placed there. We called out to anyone; no answer. Then we saw a handle and pulled it up. We called out, and
we heard a reply.
         “Where are you” shouted Pogul.
         “We are down here, through the tunnel” shouted a young man
         We went down through the tunnel. When we got to the end, there were three people in there eating and
sharpening their swords, One was cleaning out a shotgun, and one of them was a woman. We sat down and
chatted about where we are and who we lost, and also the tunnel to get as back home. We got ready to make
plans.
         We got through the rest of the wood, and we came across a city. We wanted to find ammo or guns and
even food, but it was too risky. We had to go around. The tunnel was only two miles away. We ran across the
fields, back yards, and parks.
         We finally came to the city with the tunnel. But the only problem was, it was covered with bloodthirsty
zombies. We needed a way to get down to the sewers and through the tunnel. We found some grenades from an
old shack right on the outskirts of the city. We had still had no idea how to get down there. The opening to the
sewers was in the middle of the city.
         All of a sudden:
         “I will distract them,” Pogul said.
         “No No let me go; you have a life to live. My time is up. I’m going,” an old man said.
         “No! Pogul and I will go. We came here to protect people, and that’s our job,” I said.
         We told the group to just go straight when they got into the tunnel. We both got grenades and planned our
route.
         “You ready, Pogul” I said laughing.
         “As always,” Pogul” said.
         We started to run. We shouted, and the zombies started running. We got our guns and shot, filling the air
with bullets. While the group headed for the sewers, Pogul and I each got half the zombies with the grenades we
threw.
         When we saw the group go down into the tunnel, we started really putting the zombies down. But there
were too many. When Pogul and I went around we stayed together, all we could smell was lead. We knew we
could not survive
         “Do you think back home people will remember us?” Pogul said.
         “I don’t know but umm, I know the group we saved will,” I said.
         “See you later,” I said.
         “You too,” Pogul said.
                                                                                                                    38

        Without another word they both pulled as many grenades as they could and shot until the zombies were
on top of them. They didn’t know it but they did more then save three people. They also saved twin baby boys
who were born just a year later. In dedication, the survivors named them Pogul and Wogul.


                                                     Flamnar 6
                                                  by Nathan Baum

          Barbarus emerged from his suspended animation cell to a bright synthetic sun hovering on the surface of
the slightly glowing, translucent force field that surrounded, and protected Flamnar 6’s capital city from the bitter
cold and meteors looming just beyond the force field. Slightly to the right of the vibrant synthetic sun lay the
actual one. Dark, faint, small, and blue, it looked almost as if it was in despair.
           Barbarus had heard legends that once, a long time ago, it had been bright, and it had warmed the land,
and plants and animals were everywhere, but that was only a legend. Now, outside of the force field, the
landscape was frozen, and lunar. There were skeletons of species that had been extinct for millennia lay petrified
in the ice. Even inside the dome, plants and animals were scarce (except for the Rekjaw race of course). But
Barbarus held an important seat in the Universal Executive Council of Flamnar 6 (or the U.E.C.F.6 for short) and
he had an important meeting to attend. Suddenly, he realized he was late! Swiftly, Barbarus grabbed his uniform,
pulled it on, and injected today’s nutrients into one of his arms before flying out the door.
          As he raced down the tube, he noticed others emerging from their homes, each one exactly like the others.
Somehow, that thought brought comfort to him. Now, he was passing the bad side of town. He raced past the
homeless, the old and the frail. The tube stopped, and Barbarus dropped down onto the old road. A giant air
factory appeared ahead and quickly grew to be the size of the Roman Coliseum. As he passed, he inhaled the
newly recycled, fresh sulfur dioxide. Then, he held his breath as he passed to sanitation-bots handling very
poisonous solid blocks of oxygen.
          On he ran until he saw the capital building. Its copper tracings gleamed like fire in the morning “sun”.
Compared to its bleak surroundings, the building seemed to stick out from the landscape. Barbarus stopped at the
entrance, a folded up set of stairs, to the hovering building. Then he extended his tongue and licked the
identification pad. Then he put his eye up, than his thumb, then his index finger, then one of his feet. Then he
submitted a blood sample and recited his name, “Barbarus Halgum.” Then he signed his signature, and finally, he
submitted a hair sample before the stairs gracefully unfolded, and barely touched the ground. Then, Barbarus
proceeded up the stairs, walking ever so lightly, like they were about to crumble under his weight. When he
reached the top of the stairs, an airlock slid open with a hissing release of icy, cold air. He steeped into the dimly-
lit lobby ahead.
          “Oh, good day, Farn,” said Barbarus.
          “Third door on your left,” recited Farn, his back drooping from behind the glass window between him and
Barbarus.
          “I’m sorry. Are you having a bad day?” Barbarus asked, apologetically.
          “Naw, it’s just that, well, never mind,” said Farn again from his desk
          “Well, ok then, I’ll leave you alone,” said Barbarus as he walked down the slightly curving hallway until
he found the right door.
           He straightened his uniform, ducked inside, and took his seat as Left Hand to the council elder.
          “Now that Barbarus is here, the U.E.C.F.6 is officially called to order.”
           The lights all flickered on. A faint buzzing sound was heard, as the lights--row after row-- became as
bright as day, and row after row of chairs appeared in the new, unnatural, blinding light. Each one had a Rekjaw
in it, until Barbarus saw the back wall, behind two hundred seats of people.
          “Now then,” the Council Elder bombed through the microphone. “The first and most important matter to
attend to is the continuation of the Rekjaw race. As I’m sure all of you are aware, our food supplies are running
low. But what you probably are unaware of, is the fact that a virus is going around, spoiling all the meat and other
edible products created in our factories.” A gasp went up from the other council members. ”So, my fellow
Flamnarians, we have no way to replenish our food supply. Our planet is dead. Our shields are breaking. Our
citizens are unhappy, and our sun is beginning to expand. Brothers and sisters, our species is in peril!” An
avalanche of “here here!”s, and “yay!”s came from the members.
                                                                                                                    39

        “This is why I have called all of you here today. We must find a solution. Do any of you have an idea
that you would like to share?”
        After a few seconds, a sheepish hand mingled upward.
                 “You! In the back there. State your solution.” the Elder boomed, pointing to the hand. It went
down, and a timid voice in the back said,
        “Well, we could go under ground to escape the cold and meteors”
        “An excellent plan. Does anyone have an objection?” inquired the Elder.
        Instantly, about fifty hands sprung up.
        “What say you?” said the Elder, pointing to the nearest one.
        “Even underground, that still won’t help our food shortage,” she said. A cheer of approval followed. Then
the Elder motioned for another to speak,
        “We can’t stay here, that’s for sure!” More applause.
        Then someone else blurted out, “Go to space, and find a new planet!”
        The room exploded. Wild cheering came from all corners.
        “Then it is settled!” the Elder roared over the crowd. ”We shall ready the fleet immediately, and every
man and woman willing to embark shall do so in exactly three frologs time. I will command the mother ship, my
Right Hand, Targ will be first mate, and Barbarus will be second. More information will be given later. Court
dismissed.”
        People flooded out of the room, full of excitement….
                                                  To be continued


                                                  The Underground
                                                   by Peter Martin

         I approached the pile of stones sitting in my backyard. As if he had a sixth sense, my uncle immediately
leaned out his bedroom window,
         “Jimmy, you’d better not be near those rocks again! If I catch you, I’ll make you wish you’d never been
born!” he shouted. Yep, that’s my good old Uncle Harry.
         He is quite a mysterious man for fifty-four years old. He spends almost all day isolated in his room. For
some reason, he is extremely protective of a simple rock pile in the corner of our backyard. Any time Uncle Harry
isn’t in his room, he is outside digging around the pile, often in the dead of night. I watch him all the time,
naturally curious about what’s going on. However, I never learned a thing until a few months ago.
         A cry of pain ended my deep sleep. I rolled over to look out my window. In my backyard, I saw a tall
figure standing over my uncle’s rock pile.
         “Oh, it’s just my uncle,” I whispered with a sigh of relief. I looked at the clock. It was one in the morning.
“I better get back to sleep,” I thought.
         Just as I was closing my eyes, questions started to hit me. What was my uncle doing outside at one in the
morning? What could possibly be so important about that rock pile?
         “I can’t let this chance pass me by,” I told myself. I cautiously tiptoed out of bed and made my way
downstairs. As I opened the screen door, he turned towards me with a look of panic on his face. I started towards
him, but then stopped dead in my tracks. This man was not my uncle. Well, he was, but there was something
wrong with him. His skin was pale, and his eyes had gone from sky blue to black. It was almost as if he wasn’t…
human.
         “Uncle Ron? Are you o.k.?”
         “Jimmy, my boy. When was the last time you gave your ol’ Uncle Harry a nice big hug? Come ‘ere, boy,”
my uncle coaxed me, as if I were a dog. I took a step back. “Ah, c’mon, there’s nothing to be afraid of,” my uncle
said, taking a step closer. All of a sudden, he lunged at me and grabbed my arm. With a blow to the head, I
plunged into darkness. When I woke up, I wasn’t home any more.
         I looked up and saw three large, pale men huddling in a circle to the right of me. Slowly, I started to crawl
away from their group.
         Once I was about a hundred feet away, I heard a shout. “Where is the boy? Find him, now!”
                                                                                                                   40

         I got up and started sprinting to the nearest open door. It took me a while to realize where I was going.
I had no idea where I was, and I didn’t know anything about it, or anyone there. There were brown, round-roofed
buildings in every direction. They were like a half of an egg, but brown and with windows.
         As I made my way closer to one, a sharp throbbing pain hit my shoulder, and then another in my calf. I
looked down to se a bright blue dart in my leg. I tried to pull it out, but collapsed in agony.
         “Well, well,” said a devious voice. “What do we have here. Welcome to you new home, boy.”
         I looked up to see Uncle Harry staring down at me with an evil smirk on his face. With another dart in my
neck, I was out cold.
         “Wake up already! You’ve been sleeping for hours!” said an unhappy voice.
         “Let me go back to sleep, Mom. I had a bad dream that kept me up all night,” I murmured back.
         “Mom? Who is this Mom?” the voice replied. “I am Numar.”
         “Numar?” I asked in confusion. Within an instant, I realized that it had been no dream. “Dude, uh…,
where a-“
         “I am not Dude, I am Numar,” he said, cutting me off. “What is your name?”
         “My name’s Jimmy, but Du-…, Numar. Where exactly am I?” I asked, rubbing my sore shoulder.
         “You don’t know? You are in Cogun Penitentiary,” said Numar.
         “What is Cogun?” I demanded. “Where is Cogun?
         “How can you not know? They must have hit you pretty hard. Unless… you must be an outsider! You
must be from the above world! This is incredible!” Numar said in excitement.
         “What do you mean I’m from the ‘above world’?”
         “You know! Earth!” Numar exclaimed.
         “What do you mean I’m from Earth? If I’m not on Earth, where am I?”
         “You’re in Earth. You’re under the crust and in the mantle.”
         I listened in astonishment as Numar explained to me the story of Jules Thomas Cogun, an English
explorer of the seventeenth century. He had tunneled into the Earth in hope of founding a new civilization. Just as
he and his partner were about to give up, he slipped and fell down into a cave. The explorer ventured farther and
farther in until he found this empty space, stretching for miles in every direction, a perfect place to plan his
civilization. Cogun made his way back to Earth, and brought down anyone who was brave enough to live there.
He is like a god in their culture, so naturally, they named their city after him.
         As I stared into space, trying to grasp the fact that I was in an underground city with dangerous unusual
people around every corner, I was brought to my senses by the thought of my family. I missed them so much. I
wondered if I’d ever see them again. Then I started to cry.
         “Jimmy. Jimmy!” I heard Numar whisper from the corner of my cell.
         “What is it, Numar?”
         “I’ve got a plan!” I listened in astonishment to Numar’s plan, and within an instant, he was done. So that
was it. We would escape at midnight.
         Neither of us talked for the rest of the night, just sitting wide awake. The clock struck midnight, and we
removed the bricks that Numar had loosened long ago, waiting for an opportunity like this. He had always needed
two people for the job, but no one was ever assigned to his cell. We climbed through a long tunnel, and soon came
up in the mouth of a cave. About a hundred feet up ahead, there was a ladder. I got closer, and then I saw a light.
         “That goes directly up to your world, the above world.” Numar explained.
         We were going to make it. We were going home. All of a sudden, I heard a shout.
         “Don’t move, we’ve got you surrounded!”
         “I thought you said we wouldn’t be caught!” I whispered to Numar in panic.
         “The guards couldn’t have seen us. We must have been ratted out! Run for the exit!”
         I instantly started sprinting, with Numar right beside me. Now I was no more than thirty feet from the
ladder. As we approached, I heard something whizz past my ear, and then another. We jumped onto the ladder, to
afraid to look back. I heard a shout of pain. Numar was hit with a dart.
         “Go on, save yourself!”
          I wanted to help, but there was nothing I could do. I climbed to top in tears, and found the light. I looked
around, and to my surprise, I was looking at my back yard. I ran inside as fast as I could. My mom was standing
in the kitchen. She looked my way, dropped the phone, and we hugged. I was home.
                                                                                                                   41

                                                  The Authority
                                                   by Ryan Sitar

         All alone, a man drifted on the lifeless sea, bobbing up and down, up and down on a piece of fiberglass.
The man was curled up into a great damp ball. Only a few hours ago Leigh Hunt had been in his cozy private law
office stroking his giant brown beard, green eyes darting from manuscript to manuscript. Now his beard had the
appearance of a bedraggled brown poodle, his green eyes were losing there spark, and he was fighting for his life.
         The sound of a motor started him from his reverie.
“The Authority!” The thought raced through his head. He slipped into the water and under the fiberglass that was
the last remaining piece of what had been his hydroplane. Hunt could hear the men in the boat as they surveyed
the wreckage.
One of the men chortled, “Ha ha ha, got the devil.” The men shared a laugh before speeding away in their
hydroplane.
         Hunt burst through the surface, gasping for air before turning and attempting to haul himself back onto
the floating debris. He tried but he couldn’t; he was just too tired. So he would have to make do with holding on
to the fiberglass. If only he could survive until maybe he could make it to Pretoria, the world would be safe. But it
was not to be.
          At one in the morning, Leigh Hunt accepted his fate and sank beneath the waves of the ocean. His secret
would stay under the waves for many years but eventually as all things do, it had to surface.
         The year was 1,000 B.L and Nicholas Etan, nicknamed “Nick,” was weaving his jetcar through the
organically shaped towers, domes and arches of Varson. Nick was a proud graduate of the University of Varson’s
Magneto Hydronamics department. He was going to the house of one of his father’s friends, Mac, to celebrate this
great accomplishment. He skillfully slowed, landed on Bill’s small landing pad, and hopped out his jetcar. He
walked towards the entry portal of Mac’s luxurious dome, his stride full of confidence.
         After ringing the bell a couple of times Nick was puzzled by the fact that the portal to Mac’s dome still
hasn’t opened. The pupils of his startling blue eyes got smaller as he squinted at the portal. As if squinting was the
key, the portal whizzed to life and Nick stepped cautiously through. Nick stroked his hand through his deep
brown hair in shock and puzzlement. The dome was trashed; furniture was overturned, and papers were strewn
across the room.
“It looks exactly like the Mafia’s been here!” thought Nick. “No, there must be a logical explanation for this, I’ve
got to stop watching those late night movies. Maybe he wants to surprise or scare me. No, he would never trash
his dome like this.”
Nick tentatively shouted, “Hello, Mac are you there?” His voice cracked, expecting a monster or gangster to
attack him at any second. Nick slowly and methodically checked each room until only the loft was left. Nick
knew well enough that in the movies the monster was always in the last room, and it took almost all of his nerve
to climb the stairs to the loft, and all of his guts to open that door.
The sight beyond the door shocked him to the core. Nick let loose a stream of obscenities that Patton would have
been proud of. Mac was there on the ground trembling; his eyes had rolled so only the whites were showing.
Convulsions racked Mac’s body, and he was sweating like it was 110 degrees.
         “Oh gosh! Hold on Mac, hold on! I’m calling the medical offices!” cried Nick, still in shock.
         Mac grabbed Nick’s leg, holding him in a vise-like grip. “Don’t call the medical office; they’re part of
the Authority,” Mac rasped.
         “You’re insane! What are you talking about?” questioned Nick.
         “The Authority, they’re everywhere! Everything will belong to them if someone doesn’t stop them.”
         “You’re insane! What the heck are you talking about.”
         “It will be a monopoly, they will control it all, who lives and who dies, who will succeed and who will
fail! They will have ultimate power! All will fear them. Go to Pretoria and warn the senate. But be careful! Many
senators are part of them! Go to Pretoria! Save the world! ” Mac said almost prophetically.
         “That’s it! I’m calling the Asylum! You’ve cracked!” Nick cried.
         “I still have the presence of mind to warn you. There are troops from the Internal Defense department
arriving as we speak. If they catch you, there is no escape. You must run away or else you have no chance. If you
don’t pay heed to this, you will surely die. Now climb down the ladder by the window. The I.D soldiers will not
see you; I had a cloaking net set up around it.”
                                                                                                                 42

         Nick looked out of the window where, to his shock I.D troopers were pouring out of the back of a black
I.D SkyHawk.
         “Maybe Mac was right. Well they won’t know I was here, so why not do what Mac told me to do.”
         Nick sped down the ladder, feet a blur. He hit the ground and ran towards his jetcar. The I.D’s never even
noticed until he took off. As he sped away, Nick tuned in the radio, but to his surprise, instead of music, a voice
came out.
         “We cannot afford anymore mistakes like this. How did the man find out about us?”
Another voice replied, “We do not know sir. We have searched his house, yet it has yielded no clues. We have no
choice but to eliminate him; he knows everything, just like that lawyer years ago who knew everything. I have
troubling news; the sentry spotted a jetcar leaving the premises while the main force was inside. It could be
nothing, but it is possible that the person in the jetcar knew something. Hail, Power and Strength, Hail Authority.
I.D1 out.”
         Nick puzzled over the broadcast. It didn’t fit together; no there was no such thing as the Authority. But
this radio message seemed to counteract that very thing.
“What if Mac was right?” the realization struck him like a bolt from the blue, “The Authority is real! And Mac
knew something. Oh no! They’re going to kill Mac! If they can kill in cold blood just like this, how many would
they kill if they were in power.”
Nick immediately set the jetcar’s course for Pretoria. Now all he could do was wait for the jetcar to reach its
destination. Shortly Nick was skimming over the seemingly endless blue of the Aegean Sea.
         Nick awoke with a start; the entire jetcar was shaking. He checked the control gauges, which yielded no
results. Then in puzzlement he looked at his surroundings. He noticed the shiny new I.D Eagle1’s that had been
tracking him since his jetcar was noticed leaving Mac’s Sky Dome. Nick smelled something burning.
         “The Eagle’s have Argon Lasers” Nick realized. He ducked instinctively even though hiding did little
against lasers. Invisible Argon Lasers could burn through anything in a matter if seconds. Nick peered through the
hole in the chair that he had been sitting in, made by the Argon Laser.
         “The stabilization fins are gone; how much longer can the jetcar go?” Nick’s question was answered in
seconds as the jetcar lost power and plummeted down, spiraling into the ocean. Nick braced himself for the
impact, it felt like his stomach was a mile behind him. Then everything went black.
When Nick regained consciousness, he was floating face down, lungs bursting for air. He righted himself, spat out
the water that had gained entry into his mouth during his unconsciousness, and gasped in the crisp, salty night air.
He looked around at his surroundings; he inhaled some water in surprise. There, sitting right in front of him was a
black I.D troop carrier, but something wasn’t right, and he just couldn’t place what it was. The entire carrier
seemed abandoned. Then, even more surprisingly, a man entered the cockpit, smiled and started to wave. A smile
broke across Nicks face; it was Mac. Nick stroked over to the open cargo door and clambered in.
         “Mac! How did you escape?” asked Nick.
         “Get into the passenger area, questions later ‘cause Pretoria here we come!” Mac answered
enthusiastically, without answering Nick’s question.
         Nick slowly made his way to the back of the troop carrier. Exhausted, he plopped himself into the only
seat, and after staring at the sun rising over the ocean for a few fleeting moments Nick fell into a deep sleep.
         “Wake up! Wake up! We’re there!” Mac was as excited as a little kid with a giant bag of candy.
         “Wait, who? What?” Nick asked groggily.
         Regaining his composure, Nick said “Before anything else happens, Mac can you tell me more about the
Authority and what it is?”
         Mac instantly sobered “The Authority, well, let’s see. Where should we start? Well, you see, you know
who founded he Legionian Party right, none other that Hilf Marcer, but that wasn’t all that he started. He thought
that the entire world should be ruled by one anonymous authority. The idea itself may seem innocent, but that all
depends how the authority should come to power, and how much power it should have. So Marcer started a small
group. Using his fortune, it bought stocks in food, pharmaceutical and industrial companies; now they control all
of the open market. So they have complete power. If they order the companies to stop producing their goods; the
world will be deprived of necessary things, such as food, medicine, clothing, even water. People will die,
millions, perhaps, even billions! The world government will try to do something, but too many branches will be to
corrupt and thus unable to operate. Then, using military force, economics, and promises of help, the Authority
shall overthrow the government. Once in power, the Authority shall have total control. They will be able to decide
                                                                                                                   43

to whether or not people will die, elderly, and young; just a flick of a switch would mark the beginning of the
end of their lives!”
          Nick felt sick. He knew these people were capable of killing in cold blood; on what scale would they do
this if they were in power? With what motivations? Silence enveloped the cockpit, not an awkward silence but
one of shock and lack of having anything else to say. After a couple of minutes the sky was illuminated by the
reflection of the sun off of the great golden capital dome.
          “There it is the most majestic of the wonders of the known world, the capital of the world!” Mac said in
awe.
          It was a beautiful sight, almost hypnotizing. Both men stared, completely amazed by the awesome sight.
          Mac broke the reverie as he prepared to land. “Grab the rappelling hooks, and the ropes, also get the
torch, and the suction cup.” Mac barked the orders, sending Nick scuttling.
          Nick gathered the materials quickly and made it back to the cockpit just in time to see the dome rush up to
meet the I.D ship. Mac settled the craft down gently. Nick and Mac rushed to the door and stepped out onto the
golden dome.
          Methodically Mac attached the suction cup to the dome. Then, keeping one hand on the suction cup, he
cut a neat, circle in the dome with the torch. Mac pulled the circle out onto the dome, then efficiently attached the
grappling hooks to the lip of the hole. Nick slid down the rope attached to the grappling hook first, praying that
the hook would stay in place. To his relief, all went smoothly, Mac followed almost immediately.
          Senator Stehrer stared in shock at the men who had just descended from the ceiling. “Security! Security!”
he shouted.
          Black I.Ds poured into the room, rushing towards the intruders.
          “No, no, no! You must listen to us!” cried Mac as he and Nick were carried out of the rotunda senate
floor.
          “Sorry! I make a point of not listening to lunatics. Men take these loonies to the Asylum,” Stehrer said
coldly.
          Nick and Mac gave up struggling, long before they were even loaded into the truck to go to the Asylum.
At the Asylum they stuck to a strict regime. They were confined to their padded white room at all times except for
meals and the occasional odd activity. Nick and Mac lost all sense of time, and memories began to fade. It was
almost as if they were brainwashed.
          Then one note broke the haze of repetition. The note simply said “After your meal stay behind; make sure
you are the last ones into your cell.” But it was sufficient to set forth a flurry of activity and end the boredom and
repetition. Obviously Nick and Mac obeyed this instruction. At the meal they stalled. They waited until everyone
had left, then the men slowly bussed their table and shuffled to their room.
          They entered their room anticipating something wonderful. To their shock, there was nothing special.
Then Nick noticed a note stuck on the wall on the left. He motioned for Mac to come over and look at the note, it
said “kaboom”.
          Both men stared in puzzlement at the note. Then they almost jumped out of their skins as the right wall
was blasted into oblivion. Sunlight flowed into the room as Nick fell back against the wall they had been standing
at. Men in white suits roughly dragged Nick and Mac out of the room and threw them into the trunk of a skycar.
After such a simple life in the Asylum, neither man could comprehend what was happening.
          After a couple minutes of flying there was a sudden thud. By now Nick was conscious enough to realize
that this meant that they had landed. The trunk was thrown open and blinding white light flooded in. Rough hands
grabbed both men and they were dragged out. They were sat down in chairs. Then as Nick’s and Mac’s eyesight
improved, they were able to see a man stride into the room and sat in the chair across from them.
          Mac roared with rage and let loose a stream of obscenities when he realized it was none other than
Senator Stehrer. He stood up and drunkenly staggered over to Stehrer’s chair. With another roar of rage Mac
slapped Stehrer in the face. Then he stumbled back to his seat and sat down, satisfied with his work. For a few
moments there was silence.
          “Now tell me what you know about the Authority,” Stehrer commanded.
          “Why should we tell you? You had us thrown into the Asylum,” Mac retaliated.
          “We still have a chance to stop them. Tell me what you know,” Stehrer said, the frustration audible.
          “I’ll tell you what he told me. I think Mac’s still a little angry from the Asylum,” Nick chimed in.
          “Oh, a little’s an understatement,” Mac said eyes boring into Stehrer.
          “Shut up Mac,” Nick growled. “Just tell them what they want.”
                                                                                                                    44

         “Fine, maybe I will,” snarled Mac. So Mac growled out the story-- all the information he knew about
the Authority. Nick was amazed. How had Mac found all this out and memorized it? Stehrer was also mesmerized
by Mac’s wealth of information.
         “Well this is what we needed. The underground can now officially launch Operation Capsule. The
underground has been fighting the Authority since the beginning. You probably haven’t heard of us but we
definitely exist. The Authority will be crippled by Capsule. You see, the government has a day for shots. We
know all of the Authority doctors. The doctors are on our side; those who weren’t were eliminated. On shot day
the doctors will inject the shots and a small capsule of cyanide. All people who work for the Authority that we
know of will be injected. We realize the death toll will be high, many families will lose children, and popular
political figures will die, but the death toll will be far less than if they gain power. We are ready to keep the
economy up by buying out all the Authority stocks. Overall it will be as if almost nothing happened. And we can
justify this action with Mac’s information. I wish we didn’t have to kill, but it’s a necessary complication. Mac,
may I ask how you know all this. Your lists are far more complete than even ours,” Stehrer droned.
          “Well”, Mac started. “I was having a microchip embedded so that I could monitor my health, but when I
injected the shot, this flood of information came and none of it was about my health. I guess I got the wrong
chip.”
         Stehrer motioned for the guards to escort the other two men to the waiting room where they could watch
the operation take place. Now all they could do was watch and wait. The operators inside the room were
unnervingly calm, Mac and Nick watched as the button releasing the capsules was pressed, then they watched the
board with the names. Slowly a couple of names blanked out, but the majority stayed shining. The operators
seemed puzzled. Stehrer rushed to the big button and pressed it again. A few more names blanked out. Stehrer
held up his walky-talky, frowning and sweating. The reply seemed to comfort him; he pressed the button again.
Slowly, at first, then quickly, the names blanked out until there were none left. The operators stood up and
cheered, and it was then that Nick and Mac knew it was over. They knew the world was safe once again.


                                                     Pignapped!
                                                by Stephen Nicholson

         Once there was a land of flying toads, where candy was everything you saw, and if you ate a piece of
soap, the happy king would grant you his blessing of everlasting coolness, and then you always get everything
you wanted at any time. Then you were rewarded with a gumdrop fairy pet, and sometimes you got into big pirate
ship fight with Jack Sparrow and you could eat him at the end, and become a big old pirate captain with a big
castle with dragons and lizard pets, and you got to eat cotton candy with gummy bears on top!
         Then a guy named Tucker tried to eat you, and you slew him with your sword of candy-pops. Are you
seriously reading this? After that, you eat his hair and dance. . Seriously, if you can read this, you are some sort of
super-thing.
         “Ringinging…SLAM!” Foofa was awakened from his dream of candy-land mixed with Pirates of the
Caribbean by his alarm clock once more.
         “Ohh… man… It’s twelve in the afternoon so soon?” Foofa lazily realized. “I’d better get my usual
breakfast of egg-shells and pancake by-product.”
         He marched himself downstairs, still falling and stumbling like a rag-doll to get his breakfast. When he
arrived and maliciously tore open the fridge to eat, just to find that there was nothing there!
         “No!” he shouted with a forlorn expression on his face. “My eggshells and pancake by-product!” he
sobbed. “What will I ever do without you?”
         Then, as rare as it may be, he used his brain! So he set out to buy some food. Since his old car fell into a
creek, and his trained and saddled pig was asleep, he decided to take an alternate mode of transportation. Hmm…
how do I get to the restaurant without a car? Well, it is downhill to get to the restaurant from my house, and
uphill to get back… so, I should take the boat there, and take the pig with me so I can ride it uphill when It wakes
up! But where is there a source of water near here…
         Woosh! The boat zoomed down the highway, creaking, snapping, and bending. The boat was propelled
by using the oar to push off from the road, like skiing.
         “Whee!” Foofa jubilantly squealed, noticing the fact that he was going to crash into a store.
                                                                                                                 45

         After that ordeal ended with a bang, he decided to go inside. It was Goobers Yum-Yum Shack, the
local candy store. He bought some cream-of-goose, mashed not-so-sweet potato with fish slime seasoning, and a
lollipop wiith a live cockroach in it. As he left while eating a magical caramel-bear, he realized his pig was not
there.
          “It was pig-napped, while it was taking a pig-nap! No!” he theatrically wailed.
         He decided food could wait, so he immediately searched for a way home. Hmm… home is across that
lake that just appeared over there… maybe I could take the boat… or alternatively…
         Dressed in a ski mask, some black clothing, and a Batman cape, Foofa was ready to rob the carnival
armed with his Stick-s-StickyStick, the revolutionary stick that is sharp! He kicked down the tent, and then
jumped in, raising the Stick-s-StickyStick high above his head.
          “Gimme your best swimming panda, now!” he demanded.
         Intimidated by the stick, they handed over the second-best panda, hiding the first behind the wall. Foofa
left and swam the panda across the lake. Then he took care of his hunger by eating him.
         He immediately booked a flight to the Sherlock Holmes Museum to buy a hat, coat, and bubble-pipe.
Once that was done, he returned to the exact parking lot that the pig was stolen in. He puffed his bubble pipe, and
searched for clues. He found a wallet, a picture titled: the thief, and an address to a house, with the inscription,
“Where the pig is stashed.”
         He immediately thought: Think like a thief… hmm… what would he do… Oh! Right! “Oh, no! He found
the evidence! Burn it!” and he instantaneously ate all the evidence. Then, due to consumption of material that
could have killed him, he fainted.
         In his dream, he saw a version of him with a cloak and a little haloish thing. The other him spoke, “I am
Farquar, your guardian angel.”
         “Say what?”
         “I am here to tell you to trust in your feelings,”
         “Ok… I am hungry,”
         Suddenly the ghostly image’s voice turned low and very literal. “For Pete’s sake! Look in your pocket,
smart one!”
         Poof! Foofa awoke from his dream and suddenly realized that there was a photo in his pocket of the thief,
and his address was written on it, as well as all of his information, with creases on the sides, indicating it was
folded, and the inscription: Fufawses evidinse paypurr. (He had never really learned how to spell) He immediately
drove his boat to the house of the thief, which took three hours. (The path was fifty feet away-but uphill).
         He rang the doorbell, and some guy answered!!! “Uhh… hello?” The thief said
         "Um, yeah, I think you may have my pig in your possession… may I have it back?”
         “No.”
         “Please?”
         “No!”
         “Pretty please with a cherry on top?”
         The thief slammed the door in his face, and after some serious screaming and wailing while pounding on
the door, he gave up and moved to the back. After putting on some dramatic, movie-jump-scene music, he jumped
in cinematic view through a window. He rolled when he landed, and immediately got tied up by the suspicious
thief, who saw him setting up his radio and practicing what he would say.
         “Oh boy! A bubble-bath!!” Foofa screamed enthusiastically.
         “Uh… no. I am going to boil you.” The thief said, exasperated with Foofa’s happiness. Foofa was in
danger. His pig was about to be boiled alive, and he was about to take a really uncomfortable bubble-bath. Right
before the thief dropped them in, they heard a siren in the distance.
         Suddenly, the police burst through the window in cinematic view, with stunt music in the background!
The police officer handcuffed the thief and said, “You are under arrest for grand theft livestock,”
         He said. “What?”
         Foofa screamed, "Unfair. Just because the police had a better soundtrack than me, they get to pull off a
cinematic-view jump and I don’t, just because I have a slightly… less effective soundtrack!”
         “Umm… if I may make commentary,” the officer started. “If you want to make cinematic jump scenes
like a pro, you should change your soundtrack to something more… intense.”
         Foofa grumbled, glaring, and changed the Barney CD in his radio.
         “I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for this meddling…” the thief said.
                                                                                                                  46

         After the thief was arrested, Foofa shouted, “Well, that’s over. Now let’s eat some solidified hot
cocoa!!”
         “Save your cocoa-invites for the judge, sticky!” the officer shouted, cuffing Foofa. “You are under arrest
for murder in the first degree,” the cop said. “You ate the famous swimming panda’s brother!”
         After a long ride in a police car, some crying due to the fact that the police wouldn’t get him a happy-
meal, and a quick nap-time, Foofa was in prison. After recovering from being thrown into the cell, he looked to
his right.
         “Hey,” a panda said, stopping briefly to lift a weight. “I’m your cell mate,” he continued.
         “What’s your story?” Foofa asked.
         “Well, it is a long story involving a duck, some swimming and treason… Come to think of it, my whole
existence seems like it was written by some really bad and cruel writer.”


                                                 Space Adventure
                                                by Trevor Johansen

         Once upon a time there was a small town on top of one of the Orinda hills. This hill overlooked Orinda’s
Theater Square. This town that overlooked the city was called Hillside, and it was no ordinary town because it
was home to an unknown species called Grass Gnomes. Now these were not little plastic garden gnomes that you
had in your garden; no, these were much, much smaller and were alive. They ranged in size anywhere from half
an inch when they were first born to adults, who ranged from about two to three inches.
         But out of all the gnomes that lived here there were only about a handful the people said were destined for
greatness. And one of the best-known gnomes was named Jiffy, or Jiff for short. People said the best of things
were going to happen to the young boy. His hope was that all of this greatness people said he had would get him
to go to outer space, because that was his dream.
         Jiffy had long shaggy blond hair, blue eyes, an athletic build, and his usual green robe. He was thirteen,
almost fourteen. He went to a school with all of his friends. His best subjects were math and science. In his room
he had a ton of outer space posters covering all the walls.
         In about one week his family and friends were going to be flying down to Florida to the NASA space
center. Jiffy was very exited to be going but he had to wait a week.
          There was only one little problem over this week; the only thing that Jiff was thinking about…..the space
trip. Because of that he failed two tests and gotten a C on the other one. Therefore his parents took the space trip
away. But being the adventurous kind of person/gnome that he was, he had a plan that would safely get him to
Florida.
         His plan was to sneak into one of the big regular human suitcases and hide in the storage compartment,
below the main people cabin. Then once they landed in Florida he would do his best to follow his family and
friends, because he did not know the area very well. Once his family checked in to their hotel, he would get a
room close or next to his family or friends and use his awesome math and science skills to build a microphone so
that he could hear every thing that his parents were saying! He would do this by taking leftover parts and scraps
from the hotel and using them to make what he wanted. The way that he planned to get the speaker into his
family’s room was simple. Since he had a room right next to them, he would take a long extension cord and feed
it through the ventilation vents and into his family’s room.
         Now that was how the plan was supposed to work. But he hit a couple of glitches, like for example when
he was in the cargo room earlier in the plan. There was this little white-haired dog that somehow got out of its
cage and must have smelled Jiff and gone after him. Another thing was, when he was following his family to the
hotel he had had no idea how many people were there. Since Florida was a new place for them, his family was
constantly looking around in all sorts of directions, so at any moment they could see Jiffy among all the human
feet and legs. This means that he had to stay a certain distance away from his parents, close enough that he could
see them, but have them not be able to see him. That was not the worst of it though, because they ended up
catching a ride in a taxi, and he was not able to keep up with them.
         So he, adventurous gnome that he was, took a ride on a bike. But once again he was in a rut, because the
bike that he was riding stopped at a stop light right next to the taxi that his family and friends were in. He looked
over and made eye contact with his mom. She waved and turned away, which gave him an opportunity to hide
                                                                                                                   47

behind the biker’s backpack. Then he looked back at his mom; she was starring at the place that Jiffy had just
been.
         Once at the hotel, despite all his bad luck thus far, he was able to find all the pieces in the hotel that he
needed for his microphone. And was able to get the cord through the vent and into his parent’s room.
         The next day he listened through his microphone and heard that in one hour his family would be heading
off to the space center. Since Jiff didn’t know how to get there, he had to go through the process of following
them again.
         Once at the space center, his family was walking around the huge space crafts when a small gust of wind
blew Jiffy off his feet and into and open space craft. He hit a button that closed the hatch that he came in through.
Then after bouncing off the button, he hit another button that caused the shuttle to vibrate and lift off the ground/
Then it took off! He was so afraid that he hid in once of the glove compartments until everything, including him,
started to fly around. He opened the glove compartment and, to his surprise, everything that wasn’t strapped down
was floating too.
          After he got out of the compartment, he started to float around. At first he was a little bit turned around
about where he was. Then he looked out the window, and he saw stars and utter blackness between the stars. Then
it hit him: he was in space!
         After he was really happy for a while, he realized something. He had to get home.
         The next morning he started looking for different controls to get him safely home. First he found the gas,
and the flaps which were the brakes and the control panel. Those were the only controls that he really needed to
get home.
         First he had to use the control panel to navigate himself safely home. But just as he was turning the space
shuttle around, he heard a buzzing noise that he thought was really annoying. He looked out the window and saw
a two flying spaceships heading right for him. He panicked and accidentally his the switch that cut the engine. So
he was floating dead in space with two UFOs flying straight at him.
         The next was a blur to him, but what really happened was the aliens used a special beam that went around
Jiff’s spacecraft and towed it away to a far, far away planet called Siegfried. The creatures there were different
than on earth because they were aliens; no one ever had seen what they looked like.
         Jiffy was blacked out the entire time. When he awoke he was back on his shuttle, in the control room on
the floor with a lot of pain in his head and chest. He turned around and saw a little card with writing on it that he
didn’t understand.
         He went to the bathroom to see if there was anything wrong with his chest. When he took off his shirt
there was dry blood everywhere, and in the middle of his chest there was a big red scar, six inches long, going
down his chest. Then he started to feel drowsy and walked to his bed and crashed.
                 When he awoke he really needed to get home, so he set the navigation to his home in California,
and he was off.
         After about four days of just speeding though space, he finally set eyes on his home planet, Earth. This
was a huge relief for Jiffy; he had thought that he would be floating in space forever!
         Since that Jiffy didn’t know how to fly the ship very well, on his descent the front sides of the shuttle
were on fire. He knew that he had to get out of the craft or he would surely crash and die.
         Once he had found the parachute lever, he pulled it. He was ejected from his seat and sent flying through
the air. A few seconds into the fall he realized that he had to pull the parachute cord or he would plummet to the
ground. After he pulled the strap, he glided down is his little parachute craft and landed in the ocean. Now this
was a very big problem because Jiff had no idea where he was. Somehow he had to get home.
         Then all of a sudden there was a crackling noise coming from the radio. It was saying, “Roger. Do you
read me spacecraft 4-68 from Florida space center? Hello. Is there anybody in this parachute?”
         Jiffy replied, “Yes, well, I kind of got stuck in there and preset the launch button, and the next thing I
knew was that I was lifting off the ground at a really high speed.”
         “Excuse me. How old are you?”
         “I am thirteen, sir.”
         “ I will be sending a chopper to come and pick you up.”
         “That that would be very nice, nice. Thank you,” Jiffy said
         One hour after that, Jiff started to hear a soft humming noise getting louder and louder! Then he looked
outside, and he realized that the helicopter that was looking for him was hovering right above him. There was a
                                                                                                                    48

man in a orange suit hooked onto a rope. He was carrying what looked like a stretcher to help him get up into
the chopper.
        Once he got back to the air base in Florida, his family was waiting for him when he landed. And they took
him home and told him a whole speech about not to run away and not to get into a space shuttle.
                                                 To be continued.


                                                      Finding Dad
                                                  by Sarah Rockwood

         The door slammed shut in my face. For some, it may sound weird, but my Mom makes me go outside
   every single day. My name’s Thea, age fourteen. I might as well introduce myself, so you can get to know
   me throughout the story better. I have silky brown hair, which I am pretty fond of. My parents say my eyes
   are like chocolate, which disgusts me. I always wear the new style of clothes. Cool, I guess. But I am very
   easily annoyed. One of the things is my mom. Going outside every day can easily get old. At first it was fun,
   because of all there was to do. But now I’ve done it all and I hate going outside.
         The reason my mom forces me outside is because she is horrified about obesity. She has been teaching
   health at a local college; I never bothered to find out the name. She goes by Mrs. Hoover. Since she’s
   horrified of obesity, she’s even more horrified at the idea that I will become fat. She wants me to be active and
   healthy, and I can’t eat too much. I think I’m too skinny. But she doesn’t care.
         I didn’t bother to argue with her again. I simply turned around and started walking down out the long,
   cement pathway to the sidewalk. The neighborhood I live in is so peaceful. The tall oaks give you shade on
   hot sunny days. The fireplace gives you warmth on a winter’s night. My Mom doesn’t like the idea of having
   a fire because our house is made out of a warm maple. I always convince her and say I will watch every
   moment those flames lick the side of the brick walls. It’s a soothing thing.
         I kept walking down the sidewalk. It was summer and the sun was sending its harsh rays upon me. I kept
   walking and I decided where to go. Ice cream. I didn’t even have to think before I knew where to go. Cold
   Stone always cooled me off. As I started to think of the fresh ice cream, and the warm sauce on top, I forgot
   all my angers. The ten-dollar bill in my pocket limited my choices, but I didn’t care.
         A small piece of paper, the size of a credit card slipped out of my wallet, which I had pulled out to see if I
   could scavenge more than ten dollars. It gently landed in the side of a gutter on the edge of the street. The soft
   wind threatened to take the paper away forever.
         “No.” I longed for it just as it was about to tip over the edge. It crumpled in my hand, but I didn’t care.
   It was about to be lost, but I had saved it. Overjoyed, I opened my hands. The paper was scrunched into a
   small ball. I unfolded it and stared down at the still picture it held. I could almost cry.
         Right in my hands was a picture. For most kids who still had a dad, it would be of no use to them. But
   for me, it was all I had. My dad was smiling, like always. His ruffled blonde hair shone in the sun. His white
   teeth gleamed and his eyes were so comforting. All my anger poured back into me, mixed with grief.
         In the back round was McKinley Park, where we would both go every weekend. James Hoover was his
   name. He was an orthopedic surgeon. He would be saving lives right and left, which I loved about him. But
   as much as he was busy, he always made time for me. So we could go to that very park and play in the sand,
   or shoot some hoops. I missed his smile so much.
         It was only two years ago that my parents had a disagreement that turned into an argument, then into a
   fight, and ended with a divorce. I still remember the day like it was just an hour ago. We were sitting…
         We were sitting in some brown chairs, like the ones in church. My mom and I. My dad was somewhere
   else; I did not know where. There was a man in the front of the room. He said it was official and smashed
   down a wooden hammer, gently. Then my Mom took my hand and said it was time to go.
         “Where’s Dad?” My voice was stern, I needed to know.
         “He’s…busy. We really have to go Thea.” My mom seemed eager to get out of this place. At that
   moment, my dad appeared at my side.
         “Go with your mom. It will be okay.” He gave me a gentle smile and winked. I loved him so much, so I
   did as he said. My mom and I walked out of the room together, and I never saw my dad again.
         All the authorities said he had gone missing, just disappeared. But I didn’t want to believe any of them.
   To believe he was dead. It hurt too much, I couldn’t face it.
                                                                                                                 49

      I closed my hand again; all the anger evaporated, but grief still stayed in me. How could I be so angry
at him? For leaving me? When he didn’t mean to? I quickly stood up, shoving the thought out of my mind. I
kept walking, trying to replace my thoughts with ice cream. But I couldn’t do it.
      The further I went, the more I thought about him. Finally the Coldstone came into view. The giant ice
cream cone planted on the front on the corner of two big streets welcomed me. As I opened the pink and glass
door, a bell jingled above my head.
      “Thea!” Behind the white counter was my dad’s brother, Carter. “How are you doing? Good day for ice
cream, eh?”
       I merely nodded and stared up at all the different flavors to choose from.
      “Still thinking about him? I feel the same way. He was your dad and my brother. You’re not alone.” I
ignored him and acted as if I was trying to choose what flavor to have. But sadness was in my face, and Carter
could tell. “Thea, don’t worry. He went missing; it was only two years ago. He still could be-“
      “What? Alive? No, he can’t be. He would have come home. He’s dead, he has to be.”
      “Not necessarily. He might have started a new life. You know, started over. Maybe he felt he needed to
go. That we were all better off without him.”
      “Well I’m not, am I!? I’m not better off, I’m ruined. My mom is nothing but a …a…a…
      “Don’t talk about your mom like that Thea.” My uncle now talked in a soothing voice. “She’s doing the
best she can. You don’t know what she’s going through, after your dad disappeared. It’s been so hard on
her.”
      Anger rose yet again. “Hard on her? My dad wouldn’t be gone if she hadn’t called that stupid divorce!
He would still be my dad, here with me now. But he’s gone, and it’s all her fault!” I took a minute or two to
rest, breathing hard.
      My uncle just stared at me with a sad, disappointed look on his face. “It’ll be all right. Now would you
like a special?”
      “What special. You have a new flavor?”
      “Yes, and I thing you’ll enjoy it. It’s called Blue Sorrow. I can’t tell you the flavors, big secret. It’s ten
dollars exactly.”
      “Hmpff. My luck, that’s all I have. Sure, I’ll take one. To go please. I think I need to go home and rest.
I’m in a bad mood.”
      He chuckled. “I can tell. One Blue Sorrow coming up.” He turned around as I sat down in one of the
leathery seats. Carter had a light brown head of hair. His cheeks puffed out as if he had stuffed marshmallows
in them. His eyes always seemed to change color depending on his mood. He always had a green vest on over
his blue and white work uniform. He was a great uncle because he was like my dad.
      “Alrighty, here yah go.” Carter whipped around and slammed down a light blue ice cream sundae with
swirls of black. A cherry, of course, was placed at the top.
      “Where’s the sauce?”
      “Oh, you wouldn’t want sauce on this one. Many have tried and, whoo! They sure regretted it.” He
chuckled and turned around to wipe down the back counter. I stared at the ice cream in the clear glass that sat
on the table. I hadn’t bothered to get up, but I continued to stare. I slowly got up and realized what the ice
cream was held in.
      “Uncle Carter, I asked for it to go. I can’t stay here to return this glass bowl you put it in.”
      “That’s okay Thea. We have a few extras of those. A souvenir from your old Uncle Carter. Have a good
day Thea.”
      I turned around and the bell rang once more as I left the small ice cream shop. Once I was on the other
side of the street, I turned around and stared at Coldstone. The glass windows revealed my uncle still wiping
down the counters, humming a tune. It was pretty much white inside the store except for the pink leather
chairs. I turned around and kept walking.
      I started at the blue and black ice cream I was holding. The red cherry gleamed in the sun’s rays. I had to
eat it fast before it became a heap of liquid glop. I dug the metal spoon deep into the ice cream and scooped
out half of it. My mouth opened and I was just about to shove the mysterious ice cream into my mouth when I
heard it.
      Strange voices were talking, or arguing quietly to my right. I peered over. All that was there was an alley
between two houses. It was only grass that led into darkness. The ice cream was already rimming my lips so I
                                                                                                                  50

shoved it in and closed my lips around the spoon. It tasted like…like…wonders of flavors. I closed my
eyes to savor it, but they snapped back open when I heard the voices again.
      I ate another spoonful, but didn’t close my eyes; instead I focused on the noises. I decided to take a look.
I know I was heading home to rest, but there was a chance my Mom wanted me to be out side a little longer.
Just in case.
      One step onto the grass from the safe sidewalk, I wasn’t sure about my plan. There could be killers back
there, talking some way no one could understand so their next victim would have no clue what was coming at
them. But I didn’t turn around to go home. If I died, I would be no loss. Who cared for me anyway? Not my
mom, never my mom.
      With each step I took, the grass crunched beneath my old tennis shoes. They were ragged and falling
apart, but my Mom never bothered to buy me new ones. I had little money, so I never dreamed of buying
some myself.
      I was getting closer and closer to the darkness. The voices kept talking, but I still couldn’t understand
them. It must be another language, a very, very foreign one. I reached my hand out, and it was swallowed up
by the darkness. I gulped, but kept walking.
      Once I was completely inside the darkness, I couldn’t see a thing, not even the houses. I stooped to my
side, but instead of brushing against the wood of a house, it was dirt and mud I felt.
      CRACK! “Shoot.” I had just stepped on a stick, and the people, or things, I was scouting out obviously
heard it. The voices stopped, suddenly. There was a quiet whisper, and the sound of feet clapping against the
dirt.
      I broke into a run, the ice cream still at my hand. Whereever I was going, I could still get hungry. I kept
running and running. Sucked into the darkness, I had no idea where I was headed. The sounds of feet were in
front of me, but quickly fading. They were fast. I had a six minute mile, fastest at my high school. These
people or things were abnormally fast.
      For a second or two, I thought I was floating through the blackness, not running. I was falling, not
running at all. This wasn’t right, not at all. I had gone home to rest. I fell asleep, and now I was dreaming.
The ice cream slipped out of my hand. I was falling, falling. Dreaming. It was all a dream. I got so dizzy, I
wanted to vomit. But every thing was spinning, and everything was dark.
      I felt like I had been here for years, months, or seconds. I couldn’t tell. Jet lag, or something like it, was
beginning to kick in. I was dreaming. Dreaming. Dreaming. Not to worry, it’s a dream.
The floating continued, my dizziness increased, and I fainted.
                                                          ***
      When I came to, I felt like it was six o’clock on a Monday and I was lying in bed.
      “No, no. Five minutes.” I acted as I would any day before my Mom would come into to get me up for
school. I hoped this was the case. I hoped my Mom would come shake me before I came to reality. Before I
found out where I really was.
      I didn’t want to open my eyes. I was afraid of what I would see. All I could remember was following
weird voices into a dark tunnel. Everything went black and I was...falling. Then I fainted.
      I knew I couldn’t keep my eyes shut forever. I would have to know sooner or later. If I took the risk, I
could find myself home or in some strange world where I was not welcome. Finally, I pushed my eyelids
open.
      What I saw scared me, because what I saw was nothing. Everything was white--a pure, snowy white.
Nothings stirred or moved, and I seemed to be floating. I jerked my head to the right and stared down. I
couldn’t tell if I was facing up, down, or to the side--if I was lying down or floating--if I was alive or dead.
Then I realized that I could not move my arms or legs. I felt a force pulling down my head. It scared me;
something was messing with me that I could not see, feel or touch. I closed my eyes.
      The blackness comforted me. But not for long. Something cold and hard touched the top of my eye.
Two of them, I think. They constricted each eyelid on my left eye, and forced them to open.
      I made sure my other eye stayed shut and I used all my strength in my eye, which wasn’t much, to try to
close it. But the cold force was too strong for me to repel. I stared into the whiteness once more.
      What is going to happen to my eye? Will it be dissected like a frog in science class? Why can’t I see
anything? Am I dead? In a coma? Have I gone crazy? Am I about to die or wake up to see my Mom staring
down at me worried sick? Then the pain struck me.
                                                                                                              51

      I opened my mouth to scream and I could feel the pain leaving me through the horrific scream, but I
heard nothing. I could not see or hear. The pain in the eye I was forced to open felt like a knife digging in and
twisting around. The cold touch released and my eyes snapped shut. I could not move my hand to soothe the
eye.
      The cold touch came again, but to my other eye. It too was forced open and staring into the white. “No,
NO!” I yelled it as loud as I could because this time I knew what was going to happen. But again I couldn’t
hear my cries. That didn’t worry me at the moment. The pain I knew was coming struck fear into me like
lighting. I couldn’t just sit there and wait for it.
      What if it’s worse than last time? What if it will make me go blind? How can I stop it? I can’t. I’m too
weak. Whatever it is, it’s too strong. Where am I? What am I doing here? How did I get here?
      With all the thoughts running through my head, I didn’t realized when it happened. Since I was expecting
it, the pain was double the times worse. I clawed at the white and clenched my jaw so tight; there was a
chance it would break. The cold released its pull once again, and now both of my eyes were cooling from the
burning white in the dark.
      I thought it was done, over with. Like a shot at the dentist’s office when your mom is squeezing your
hand and the doctor presses the needle against your skin. You shut your eyes, afraid of the sting the needle
brings. It is a quick pain, and then it is all over. But that wasn’t how this worked. The pain in my eyes had
quickly died, but was now spreading through the rest of my body. I wanted to scream in agony so badly, but I
knew nothing would come out.
      Then it was gone. All the pain in me just…disappeared. Vanished. But I still shut my eyes as hard as I
could. What were all those pains? What did they do to me? Am I different? I was thinking more than I ever
did on any school day. My imagination was running wild. I thought if all the crazy things that could be
possible. But wherever I was, could the impossible be possible? No.
      Courage finally reached me. I felt whatever was about to happen had to happen. Maybe everything would
be different when I opened my eyes. Maybe I would be home, and I would realize it was dream after all. That
I never turned to follow those voices after going to the ice cream shop. I had just finished my ice cream once
home and took a nap. Maybe that was all.
      But when I opened my eyes again, everything was still white. I wanted to cry. Was I ever going to get
out of this? Or was it like one of those movies I saw, where the person went into a coma and was in another
world. Or just white.
      But I never went into a coma. I was never in an accident. I didn’t smoke or take drugs. Thea, stop this
nonsense. Why are you using words such as ‘didn’t’? You still don’t. I’m not dead. I’m not dead. I’m NOT
dead. …or am I?
      I shut every thought out of my mind. Then the whiteness did stir, it did move. Swirls of gray and bright
yellow started to spiral, getting bigger and bigger. They started to take shape and form. I wasn’t blind! The
white was fading, disappearing. It would be gone soon. I would finally be able to see where I was.
      My joy and hope instantly faded. My surroundings were visible, but I didn’t like what I saw. Nothing
was right. Nothing was…the same. I was lying on a metal table, which I could not feel because of the tank
top I wore. Directly above me was some sort of lamp, high tech or something. It was, well, I couldn’t tell, but
it was shining on me.
      That’s why I can’t move at all. There were tight straps binding me to the table. They might have been
leather, but I was never good at that kind of stuff. I could barely see around me, but I was just enclosed in a
pure metal room. I could see to my side and in front of me, the room seemed narrow. I had no idea how far
the room stretched behind me.
      I was all alone. I started to study everything a little harder. The walls looked like they had little lines
cutting across them in all directions. They were going in every direction and were all flashing different colors.
It seemed all high-tech and fancy, like the stuff you see in Star Trek.
      But before I could look at anything else, I heard loud footsteps. “Whoa.” I could even hear myself. How
did the person enter this room?
      “Sialanti.” There was a high and rather spooky voice that echoed off the walls. I closed my eyes again
because I knew that it wasn’t human. I t sounded like it was hungry, like it wanted me for a snack. I felt it
touch me on the forehead. It felt…hot. I had always thought aliens would be cold and slimy. But that didn’t
mean it was safe for me to look. It could be an overheated basilisk.
                                                                                                                52

      “Open your eyes.” The voice was like a hiss of a snake. It was a voice that would persuade anyone,
just by fear. My eyes flicked open. What I saw couldn’t intimidate me any more.
      A face loomed above me, staring down. I could see it all so clearly, too clearly. Everything showed
every detail that I could possibly see. I felt like I had the eyes of a hawk, an alien hawk. But the face…the
face. It was very long and thin, there was no way of telling if it was male or female. Its eyes were the size of a
golf ball and pure black. They reminded me of a bottomless pit. They stared into mine.. Its nose, well it
didn’t have one. The mouth was thin and narrow; it was a shade of purple. It clashed against the pale blue
skin that covered it. Four fangs sprouted out, two from each side of the mouth--ne from the upper lip and one
from the lower.
      “You…” The voice rang out and the lips barely opened, to reveal more fangs. “Come. We must take
you to the place…”
      “What place?” There was a clear difference between our voices. Mine was normal, and its was a like a
snake.
      “Not now. Not now…” It ushered me up with the slight wave of its hand. The ends of its fingers were
like small balls placed at the top and covered by his skin. They were the same color, no different. “You must
follow. We must go…” It ended its sentence like it had more to say, but would say no more.
      I sat up like I was told, and I twisted my head a round to get a view of the room behind me. It was a long
way to the end, maybe fifty yards or so. The only thing that bothered me was that there was no door. No way
out.
      “E-excuse m-m-me? How do w-we get o-out?” It didn’t move, but faced the end of the wall that was
farthest from where I sat. It motioned to me again and started to walk, slowly. I realized I had to follow; there
were consequences for disobedience where I lived, and no doubt there were some here. I swung my legs over
and landed with a thud on the ground.
      I gasped. The table was nearly over my head. The thing made it look waist height, they must be very tall.
Very weird. It had stopped maybe halfway to the wall. I could tell by the way it was just...there, that it
wanted me to come, quick. I hurried forward and once I was next to it, it went forward again, much faster than
I could follow easily. Must’ve been because of its long legs. Abnormally long legs.
      I wanted to call out for it to slow down, so I could take a rest. But I was afraid of what its response would
be. I quickened my pace to stay level with it.
      We were quickly nearing the wall directly ahead of us. It was pure metal, from what I could tell. I
slowed down, not sure what to do. I could only think of one thing. “Stop!”
      It stopped. Slowly turning, it gave me a sharp glare. Whatever this thing was it wasn’t patient.
      “Why stop?” The snake like voice made it hard to answer. I gulped and bit my tongue.
      “B-because there is n-no way o-out.” It gave me another hard stare. If possible, harder. It disagreed with
me; maybe he disagreed with my kind. I figured it was a he.
      “There is a way…” His voice dragged on. “Follow. Do not stop. Come…” I started to slowly walk
forward. I wasn’t sure if I trusted this thin.
      What!? Not sure!? You can’t be not sure! There is no way you can ever think about trusting this thing!
 Well, I didn’t know. Maybe I can. It never looked like it intended on hurting me. Of course it didn’t.
You have no idea what it had planned for you. A war was going on in my head.
  It might be friendly. Those movies like Alien Killers would make me believe that. But you have watched
E.T... Haven’t you?
      Yes, of course I have seen that movie. But that is just a movie. You have no clue how aliens really are.
Exactly. They could be mean or friendly. A friend or a foe. But it’s too late, isn’t it? There’s no way out
now.
      There were only ten or so feet until I reached the wall. He let me pass him, and then he pushed.
      “Whoa!” I fell into the wall. I couldn’t feel anything. It was like jumping through a wall of water. I
came out of the other side, intact and dry.
      I was too busy scanning myself to see the scene before me. I felt disconnected and I wanted to make sure
every part of my body was actually connected. I was still staring down, patting myself, when the alien-+ came
beside me.
      “You are fine.”
                                                                                                                53

       I froze. His voice had changed. It was no longer the snake-like hiss I feared, but more of a deeper
voice, like my dad’s. It hurt to hear him talk like that. I never thought I would say this, but I preferred the
snake voice.
      I finally took the effort to look up at my surroundings. I couldn’t even gasp. It was beyond the reach of
gasping. I was in a giant dome, or something like it. The walls were covered in flashing lines and dots as
well, but much more diversity. But it wasn’t the giant metal dome that really caught my attention. It was the
occupants in it. There were hundred, maybe thousands, of other aliens, or its, hustling around. They were all
wearing white, glossy lab coats. It was very light inside here, but I couldn’t seem to find the source of it.
      But that wasn’t what I was focused on. They were all in an orderly fashion. Perfect. It seemed too good
to be true. There was no way to see the other sides, which I didn’t know what was on any of them. It
reminded me of the streets of New York where I went during my fourth grade summer. They were full of
people, walking to their destinations. The streets were already filled with cabs and other cars. But as much as
it was like it, this place was nothing like it. Instead of shoving and pushing to find your way through the
crowd, they were organized. Lines weaving through each other like a basket, instead with aliens.
      I saw the alien, looking solemn, pull a tag that was hanging around his neck. He put it up to his mouth
and silently spoke into it. I couldn’t tell what he was saying; it was too quiet. Even if I could hear, he was
probably speaking in that weird language again. Once finished, he lowered the tag and pressed a couple of
things. Then he let it drop to his chest.
      I had the feeling he was calling something, like a cab. Gosh! This place kept making me think of New
York City!
      I was right. He was calling something, because five minutes later or so, something soared down from the
top of the dome. It just appeared and flew down towards us. Once it was standing in front of us, I stared at it
in shock. I had never seen anything so…so beautiful. The head was like a bald eagle, the bird of America. It
was sleek and wise. Wings spread out so wide I wasn’t even sure it was a bird. The back of the body, the
back legs and the tail were those of a lion. The only part left was the two front legs. Which I was pretty sure
like a tiger, except with silver stripes, not black.
      He motioned to me again, this time not to walk through a wall that appeared as metal, but to climb on the
back of the creature. I wasn’t so sure about this. I already had a debate whether I should trust this thing.
Another one was starting in my head.
      You shouldn’t trust this thing, whatever it is. So if you don’t trust it, why the heck would you climb on the
back of a random, mutated creature?
       It looks pretty cool. Go for it. What else can you do?
        I can tell you what to do. Run. Run through all those guys out there. You’ll be lost in the crowd. No
way to find you.
      There is a way to find you, thank you very much. Every alien thing out there looks exactly the same. This
is nothing like New York. You can’t blend in, there is no way it’s gonna happen. Besides, that thing could be
cool to ride on.
      Whatever, but you’ll regret it.
      I obediently swung my leg over the creature’s majestic feathers. They were brown and the first three
color of the rainbow--red, orange, and yellow. Like fire. Once I was securely holding on to the warm feathers
and had both legs in place like riding a horse, the bird lunged.
      It was like going on a roller coaster as it soared up into the sky. I was overwhelmed with the feeling I
started to laugh hysterically. We were getting higher and higher above all the aliens. There were many exits
on the bottom, curving around, where more aliens were entering and exiting. They had weird symbols above
them. Closer to the top there were wider ones and a little shorter. They too had symbols along the top.
      I was so into the sight below me I didn’t see us nearing the top of the dome. We were already in the
circular part, like an upside down bowl. But that wasn’t what I was worried about. It too was made of metal.
All my instincts inside me were roaring I’m gonna die! But there was something that told me it was like that
wall that alien had pushed me through.
      Either way, I was scared to death. So I closed my eyes and clutched the creature’s back with all my
strength. I didn’t know what was going on until I felt the warmth of a shining sun. I opened my eyes and
released my grip a bit. But not enough to fall off. What I saw what too much for me to bear.
                                                                                                                 54

      The scene below me was full and vibrant. I couldn’t even gasp; all I could do was stare. I could only
take in one thing at a time. My mind wasn’t a superfreak kind of thing. I was an average student at school. B-
was usually what I got. It wasn’t the best and my Mom didn’t always approve, but I was fine with it.
      One main thing I noticed was all the aliens. There must have been…millions. They were all in an orderly
fashion. But instead of wearing a glossy white, they wore a dark blue that barely stood out from their skin.
They looked like they were in uniforms. Like a giant army or something. They all seemed to be doing
different things. I could only make out one thing at a time.
      Some were handling creatures. One I saw was an It that looked like a dog, but I wasn’t sure it was one.
It was directly below me. One creature I saw looked like a dragon, except its head was part…dog? I didn’t
even know if it was a dog head. Even if it was, I had no clue what breed it was. I had never been that good at
knowing all about animals and dogs. One more reason to pay attention in school. Although I didn’t know
what its head was, I could take a pretty certain guess at what the rest of it was.
      It looked as if it was snake, or dragon. It was thin and sleek, but it did have arms and legs. It had scales
that were green, and it did very much remind me of a dragon. But I thought those didn’t exist. The green was
dark but reflected in the intense heat from the sun. When you looked at the reflection, black spots were
visible. But that wasn’t the part that freaked me out.
      The head, which I now figured was a black mastiff, bared its teeth. There was no top of the mouth. Only
teeth until the very back of the throat. If you got caught in there, the only way to survive was to get down the
throat. I knew at least that there were digesting acids once you wet down the throat. Once those ghastly black
talons on its hand and feet shoved you into your mouth, there was no surviving.
      And I was right. Because the second that thought came to my mind, it seemed to all happen. One of the
aliens that was whipping the chest of the beast with a long, brown thing, met its nightmare. It was trying to get
it to lie down and be obedient, but this wasn’t like a regular dog. It let out a horrible screech, one I didn’t even
think the gigantic bird I was riding on could do. Showing all its teeth, it struck at the alien and chomped.
Blood and alien parts gushed out all over the floor and other aliens. Once it had devoured its unexpected meal,
it blew like a dragon. But instead of breathing fire, it breathed water. I didn’t know how this was more
harmful, but soon enough I found out. A giant wave was hurled at all the aliens who had attempted to save the
unfortunate one. They were all washed away with the others behind them. Not knowing if they were dead or
alive, I turned my head.
      I started to scan the desert ground, that sand blowing at all of the feet. Another scene caught my
attention. There was an ocean, or at least that what it appeared to be. I had learned not to be sure what
everything was after one look. I had had enough experience to learn from those mistakes.
      Anyways, there were small cubed islands of desert, which we had just flown over. They were probably
only a hundred square feet, with one or two men on each one. They were trying to calm the splashing waters,
which must have had more creatures in them. After a couple of minutes, I finally caught a view of one.
      It was like a fish, but not really.. Maybe more like a shark. The first thing I saw was the front of the
beast. All I could see was a giant hole which must have been the mouth. It covered the whole front of the
creature. Layers and rows of teeth were visible, and it was big enough for me to stand in and rise up my arms
to try to stop the beast from closing its mouth. I watched too much TV. The body of it was a dark navy blue,
much darker than the aliens. The gills were quite large and were very visible. The body right behind the
mouth was round like the mouth. As you gradually got closer to the tail, it sloped inwards. At a thin point, the
tail jetted upwards. At the end of the tail was a giant metal ball. All around were gigantic and obviously sharp
spikes.
      This creature didn’t seem to be shooting out any fire or water, or eating any aliens. But I didn’t know
what it was capable of. I wanted to look at everything else in this desert-looking place. I wanted to soak up
every scene, creature, and detail this faraway planet held. I wanted to learn every detail. I needed to know.
      But I was too tired, and it was warm and relaxing up here. As much as I wanted to keep looking, I knew I
needed rest. I gave out a stifled yawn and rested my head on the back of the creature I was riding upon. I tried
not to think about home; that would just make me want to cry. That wasn’t what I needed, let alone wanted to
do. My eyes slowly and gradually closed shut. Soon enough, I was fast asleep.
                                                         ***
      “KAW!” A long and painful screech woke me up. I wanted to take a hammer and smash it to bits. Wait
a sec, this wasn’t an alarm clock I was riding. I was sitting up with wide open eyes in no time. I looked
                                                                                                                55

straight ahead as we entered darkness. We had gone into a shadow. I looked up and saw a giant metal
dome looming above. It was so tall, I didn’t think it was even possible. In my world, it wasn’t.
      Before I could continue to gaze at the giant metal dome looming above me, I fell. Or at least that was
what I thought. Really, the thing I was on plummeted toward the lower part of the dome. At the base of it, the
dome jutted out like a regular building. It reminded me of the Empire State Building. The wind rushed
against my face, making it very difficult to see. I could tell we were heading towards the roof, and I knew we
were going to go right through. I still knew it would freak me out, so I did my best to close my eyes.
      I knew we had entered the building when the wind stopped and the heat wasn’t so intense. It must have
been hundreds of feet high, and that is just the building part. The whole dome must have been thousands. The
scene below me was jus like the one in the other building, but much larger. It was at least three times as large
and busy, but just as organized. I figured every thing here was beyond impossible.
      It must have been a mile or two across, at the least. We were going quite fast, I could tell. This was
going to take a couple of minutes to get across; that’s where I thought we were going. I figured it was no use
for me to sit on this creature and gaze into the crowd below me. I might as well find something out about this
place. I tried to lean forward best I could, and asked a question.
      “What is the name of the creature we are riding upon?”
      The alien didn’t bother to move. I didn’t bother to ask his name because I didn’t like him. He was
very…anti-social.
      “The creature we are riding upon,” he replied in a whispery voice that was hard to hear, “is a Tigbirson.”
      Tigbirson. That is a weird name for a creature. This place is unsafe. Huh, I was right all along.
      You were not. This place is harmless, and very interesting. It is too bad we didn’t come here long ago.
All the things I’m missing out.
      Me? Missing out? This place is a death trap, and we is not the word to use. If I were the one in control,
we would have been long gone. This conversation wouldn’t even have a reason to be happening.
      Well if I were in control, we would, well, still be here.
      We already are.
      Yes, and that proves that I am in control.
      I was starting to get tired of these debates inside my head. It was as if I had an angel and devil sitting on
my shoulders. To get my mind off it all, I stared down into the crowd. They were all wearing the same glossy
uniforms in the same orderly fashion. But something here was different, a sense. Maybe it was the setting.
      But the entrances were in the same the same distances apart, only there were many more of them. I
focused my attention above all the commotion and saw the entrances above as well. I could get a view into
one of them, because we were heading straight towards one. They were farther apart and weren’t as tall. Like
a sideways rectangle. The ones below were tall arcs. Inside it was a bright white. White as far as I could see,
which wasn’t far.
      I looked back down at the crowd, but noticed something as I shifted my attention once more. I was
looking to my right, and beyond the wing of the Tigbirson that was now still in one position, I saw something.
It was a large tab that sliced through the fiery feathers at the end of the wing. It looked large and painful; how
could I have missed it before?
      The tab had more strange symbols on it, like the ones that hovered above each entrance. I wondered what
it was, and couldn’t resist not knowing.
      “Uh… Excuse me? Alien man?”
      “It’s Jlok.”
      “Yah, um, Jlok? You see that thing on the Tigbirson wing? What exactly is that?”
      “That, young one, gives us the information all about this Tigbirson. This one happens to be a male named
Sra. He is young and healthy, can fly far distances, and needs to be fed for a payment.” I nodded and looked
away. My flight on Sra seemed pleasant now that I knew about him. Young and healthy, those words were
comforting.
      We had now entered the entrance, which I now figured was a tunnel, and we seemed to have increased
speed. It was quite bright and I had to close my eyes. Seconds later the lights dimmed and I saw the grayish
blue tinge of the metal ahead. I thought this would be a long flight through the tunnel, but I was wrong. We
began to soar over large holes which were black. They were large enough for Sra. I didn’t think a bird would
go down on of those.
                                                                                                                 56

       I was right, but I wish I hadn’t been. Partially. As we passed over one, and I hadn’t kept track, Sra did
a full-fledged spin which sent me hurtling into the darkness below.
      I was falling face down, wind rushing up into my face. I could barely open my eyes to try to see into the
darkness below. But it was impossible. There was no way I could do it. I wondered if I was the only one
falling, or if there was anyone above me falling as well. I twisted my body so I could get enough momentum
to flip myself around and get a view of what was above.
      It took a couple tries before I actually was facing the other direction. I was still falling, and there was no
sign of a floor below; I wasn’t sure there was going to be one. Above me was Jlok, but no one else. I started
to notice something that had just started happening. We were going through small sections of a substance that
felt like Jell-O as we passed through it. But it didn’t catch us, like falling through clouds.
      I didn’t want to think about what we were going to fall on. Or if we were ever going to stop falling. It
seemed like the hole I was now plummeting through was an endless pit that would come on the other side of
Earth! Oops, my bad. A random planet. I went for another jerk, and on the first try I was facing the direction
I was falling again. I think. I could faintly see another patch of blue, but this one looked stronger. One that
might actually catch us. But if it didn’t, who knows what could possibly happen. I could fall forever through
the clouds. Like a curse on the Dutchman’s boat, cursed to sail the seas forever. But this was much, much
worse.
      Luckily, I was right. The giant blob of Jell-O did catch us. But I didn’t like the way I was in there. I was
in an uncomfortable position, and I couldn’t get myself to move. I also figured I couldn’t breathe, but I didn’t
have to. I was just there, floating. Not breathing or moving. I felt like a vegetable. Just planted in a garden
and waiting for something to happen. Someone to save me.
      I looked over to my right and I saw Jlok, floating in the stuff as well. He had the same solemn and calm
look on his face as he always did. He never looked scared or surprised. He always seemed the same. I
wondered how it would feel to have the same emotion forever. Or no emotions at all.
      Even though my mind was thinking about a different topic, I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that I
couldn’t breathe. It freaked me out. Especially the part that I didn’t have to breathe. I couldn’t move, and I
figured I probably couldn’t scream either. I didn’t want to waste energy trying. As long as Jlok didn’t seem
like there was anything wrong, there probably wasn’t.
      Only seconds later I noticed something. I could hear this awful churning noise that sounded like someone
was grinding a cow. It groaned and creaked and I knew something was moving. I looked over at Jlok, but he
was still there with the same look on his face. I realized it was coming from the other direction--to my left. I
looked over and sure enough I saw something big. It looked like a mechanical arm or crane. It reminded me
of those crane machines where you used a joystick to operate a crane in attempt to get something. But this one
was sideways, huge, and aiming for me.
      I couldn’t help but panic. Even though Jlok was not worrying in any way, all my instincts roared this
wasn’t safe.
      It is going to hurt me. Maybe even kill me. I have to get away, I just have to.
      No, I don’t. There is no reason to panic if that gut, Jlok isn’t. It is all part of the plan.
      But what is the plan? I don’t know what it is. It could be dangerous. Or the plan is to kill the Earth Girl,
me!
      No, it isn’t. Thea, get a hold of yourself. Stay calm and relax. Whatever you do, don’t panic.
      Yes panic! Why not panic! I’m about to die anyway, aren’t I? This is the perfect time to panic.
      Thea, stop. Calm down, relax, and wait.
      I figured there really was nothing I could do. There was no way to swim away, and the crane was coming
at a fast pace. Although it was very faint and hard to see, I knew it would be within reach in no time. I did as
Jlok did, just waited. In no time, the crane was almost around my waist.
      I waited in anticipation as the giant metal arm started to close around my waist. I looked over at Jlok and
another crane was doing the same to him. He still had the same look on his face. I didn’t do anything as the
crane started to pull me in the direction it had come from. My body lurched as I started to move. It started to
speed up and I realized it was going too fast. Jlok was going slower, and his facial expressions had changed.
He looked surprised and almost angry. Something was wrong. But there was nothing I could do as I was
pulled away into the darkness.
                                                                                                              57

      Jlok soon was out of view. I started to get scared. I was all alone and I couldn’t breathe. I was being
pulled by a giant crane in a giant glop of Jell-O and I had no idea where I was. Things were getting weird.
Finally the crane stopped.
      I don’t get it. Where’s the crane supposed to take me?
      I found my answer right after the thoughts entered my mind. The crane swung around and I emerged into
the regular cool air. It dropped me and disappeared. I was standing in a dark place, and I could only see my
feet. I looked up to the place where the crane disappeared and saw a giant wall of blue substance. There was
no telling what it was.
      I was so tired I fell to my knees on the cold floor. It was made of metal and very rough. The texture was
like lined going up and down. I closed my eyes. It must have been a hundred fifty degrees in there, because I
was sweating like I had just come out of a sauna. I couldn’t open my eyes again, and I quietly fell asleep.
                                                         ***
      “What?!” I was awakened by a loud noise and was sitting upright in seconds. My eyes were wide open
and I was scanning all around me. I couldn’t find a source of the loud band I had just heard. Suddenly
someone appeared.
      “You must be Thea. Good. Right on time.” I looked up and saw another alien. He had all the same
facial features. But he was different. His black eyes seemed as though there were warm flames licking the
sides. He may have had fangs, but he was smiling. In all the attempt to look friendly, I could tell he was
serious about something.
      “Why do you want me? And how do you know my name?” I was scared at first, but now I was
demanding.
      “And where is Jlok? I don’t know where but he was bringing me somewhere important!” The alien
looked down at me with a warm glare. I couldn’t help but flinch.
      This one is nice. I know it. He wants to help me. But from what?
      “Thea, everyone knows your name. And I am here to save you. Jlok works for our government and
well… You are lucky I saved you from him. Or we saved you from him.” I gazed into his eyes and only one
question was in my head.
      “What is your name?”
      “Kryptine. With a K.” He smiled and offered a hand to pull me up. I smiled and accepted his offer. I
was up on my feet looking into his eyes. He was a couple feet taller than me/
      “So, why exactly did you ‘save’ me from Jlok?”
      ‘Well. It’s more of a serious matter. This place you are in, or this planet. There’s a lot you need to know
about it and there isn’t much time. Come with me.” I looked around and now there was light all around.
      “Where to?” We were in a metal room, like the one I woke up in, but it was much smaller. Also, one
wall was blue gloppy stuff.
      “Well, we sort of have a different way to get around here.” He smiled. “But before we can leave I need
to do something.” He reached around and grabbed something off of the glossy suit he was wearing. I could
now see a belt that twisted around his body. He pulled out a small chrome bottle the size of a small soda can.
      “This will make you, how do you humans say it again? Invisible?”
      “Oh, you mean when you are not visible to anyone or anything?”
      “Yes, yes, that’s it. This is going to make invisible. Don’t ask why. We’ll explain when we get there.”
      “We’ll?” I was confused. Whatever this alien, Kryptine was doing he wasn’t alone. I wasn’t sure if I
was supposed to follow along or be scared. I knew I couldn’t do both.
      “All right. You won’t feel a thing. I am only going to spray enough to make you invisible for an hour or
so. That should be enough.”
      “Where exactly are we going?”
      “We are going to a safe place. We are going to Earth.”
      I was overwhelmed and excited by the fact that I was being brought home. But it appears I interpreted it
all wrong.
      “So are you going to take me home?” He just began to shake the chrome bottle. He angled it at me and
answered my question.
      “Ummm… Not exactly. You are going to come with us to our “headquarters.”” He used his fingers to
emphasize it. He reminded me so much of my dad.
                                                                                                                   58

        “What! I want to go home, Kryptine. I’m scared and confused; none of this makes any sense to me!
   Why can’t you just bring me home?”
        “Because it is not safe for you there.” He ignored anything further that was said and he started to spray. I
   couldn’t feel a thing as the mist fell upon my body. After a while I couldn’t see myself either.
        “There. Now I’m going to take you to Flinkton.”
        “Flinkton?”
        “Yes. You didn’t think it was just me trying to help you out, did you?”
        Now that I thought about it, I did think there was only one alien that wanted to help me. If he was helping
   me out at all.
        “Well… Sort of. But I need to know everything. And once I’m on Earth and I have what I want, I’m
   going to report you all to the authorities.” I knew he could tell I was serious. He looked like he was thinking
   something through.
        “Okay. It seems I can’t underestimate a human. There is a change of plans. I will not take you to the
   headquarters on Earth. You seem to be threatening us. I will take you to my headquarters, where I lead. But I
   must warn you Thea, it is not safe for you here.”
        “Hmpff.” I wasn’t listening. I could leave anyway. I was invisible.
        “Good. Now I need you to cooperate. Once we are there, I will tell you all about Thorpa.” I wanted to
   ask what Thorpa was, but I figured I shouldn’t. I might as well wait until we get where ever we were going.
        How do I know this guy is safe? Supposedly the other guy was going to harm you in some way. But what
   makes you so sure you can believe it?
        I can believe and I should. What else can I do? If all the others are out to get me, and they want o harm
   me, what is the point in laying around?
        I should go. I’m invisible.
        But Kryptine said it would only last an hour. What will you do and hour from now?
        He ushered me with his fingers, but I noticed something different.
        “Hey, you’re fingers are webbed. Jlok’s had little balls on the top.”
        “I’m a boy, Jlok was a girl. She may have seemed manly and nothing at all like you say a female is, but
   here everything is run by females. Females go to war. Females are smarted, stronger, and more evil. There
   are very few males here. I am one of them. Females killed all the men they could. Only some stayed alive So
   females could reproduce. But they are trying to make a machine that will do that for them. Out group is all
   males in hiding, and revolting against the female’s evil plan.” I shuttered. The idea was horrible to think
   about. But it was true here.
                                                     To be continued


                               Warriors: A New Generation of the Cats of the Forest
                                       by Kayla Louise Guadalupe Moreno

                                    Based on the Warriors series by Erin Hunter
 Note: Names of cats from the original series were used. It is not the same cat and I give full credit of the name to
                                                      Erin Hunter
Prologue
        Millie trotted through the forest on the bitterly cold winter evening. The bright stars light her path. All
was good in New Orleans that night. Well, as far as her eye can see. She had an awkward feeling as she walked
home that day.
        Suddenly, she saw two very bright, large green eyes glowing through a bush. It seemed as though they
were staring at her. Millie ignored it and told herself that it was just a figment of her imagination. Just as she was
about to walk on home, she saw the creature who’s eyes were staring at her. A silver tabby with bright green eyes
jumped through the bramble bush. Oh, thought Millie, it was just a tabby cat. Nothing to worry about. I’ve seen
many of these back home. Why I chose to walk home at night even I don’t know. Still, I’ll just continue home and
forget about this. It was my mistake. Just walk, Millie. Just keep on walking.
        Millie is a smart human and continued walking, ignoring the cat that seemed to haunt her for some reason.
Somehow, someway, she couldn’t forget about this silver tabby she cat. She would just have to forget about it.
Forgetting would be easy, saying as though she had four cats at home waiting for her.
                                                                                                                     59

                                                         ***
         Back in FireClan, a warrior named Diamondpelt ran to her leader with news that frightened her. Now,
Diamondpelt was a good warrior but she was known to overreact about even the smallest of things. When she
overreacted about a small thing, something bad happened to the Clans. Each of the Clans. Four large groups of
cats. That would worry Diamondpelt’s leader, Icestar. She would stop to think about what Diamondpelt was
saying, and take action about it just to be safe.
         “Icestar!” Diamondpelt cried to her leader. She raced over to Icestar, who was on the other side of the
camp. “Icestar, I must talk to you! It concerns the fate of our Clan and each cat in it!”
         “Diamondpelt, take a deep breath and tell me your story. Then, go to Foxflowers and repeat it to her. She
will have a much better understanding of it than I. I can only interpret small things. She gets prophecies and
omens, remember. She would know if this were a strange sign sent from StarClan. Although, the signs that she
gets are very vague and sometimes she has to spend moons figuring out what they mean,” Icestar said.
Diamondpelt took a deep breath.
         “I saw a twoleg walking by our border towards our camp as I was on a hunting trip. I didn’t catch
anything because I was too frightened that the twoleg would take me with it,” Diamondpelt sighed and continued
her tale. “I hurried away from her because no warrior could ever be too sure. I would keep an eye out, for the sake
of the Clan and all of our loyal cats in it. Like I always say, it’s better to be safe than sorry. We can’t have twolegs
prancing around our territory, now can we? Next thing we know, our most valued warriors will be made kittypets!
So, I ran and decided to tell you. Just for the sake of our Clan. I didn’t want cat’s lives to be taken. Who could be
so sure that the twolegs would not take our cats for kittypets? Hopefully, we will find a way to make sure that our
borders are secure enough. Maybe our borders are secure enough already. Still, we need safe precautions to make
sure they don’t get in.”
         “Interesting; very interesting. Now, go tell Foxflowers what you saw. Tell her you think that it might be a
prophecy of some sort. She’s sure to help you,” Icestar assured Diamondpelt. Icestar let out a caring mrrow and
Diamondpelt walked to the medicine cat den. She looked somewhat panicked as she tried to find Foxflowers.
         “Foxflowers!” exclaimed Diamondpelt as she walked into the den. When she was walking in, she
couldn’t find Foxflowers. The only ones in the den were her and Mousepaw, who was doing some work for
Foxflowers while she was apparently out. Mousepaw turned and saw Diamondpelt. She looked pleased to see her,
at the same time an expression of exhaustion filled her face. Her ears pricked as she heard Diamondpelt’s cry for
Foxflowers. Mousepaw’s gray tale turned in Diamondpelt’s direction, and Mousepaw turned to make eye contact
with her.
         “Foxflowers is out getting herbs in the forest right now,” Mousepaw said. Diamondpelt’s face fell at the
news. She was really hoping that Foxflowers would be there to help her figure out what had happened in the
forest that night. She nodded and started to head out of the den. She could tell her later. Plus, the gathering would
be soon, anyway. Just a few more sunrises and sunsets. Then, she could go to her third gathering as a warrior and
be proud to have news that could very well save the Clans she loved so much. Diamondpelt tried imagining life as
a kittypet.
         She imagined herself in a twoleg home surrounded. Each of the smaller twolegs were crowding around
her, giving her pelt long strokes. This made her let out a purr of enjoyment, but nothing could satisfy her urge to
hunt and sink her teeth into a nice, juicy vole, mouse, or rabbit. The food they gave her was nothing like a fresh
vole or mouse. It was mostly tuna fish, and chicken. The food was always slimy and it came from a tin can. The
twolegs poured it into a dish that Diamondpelt ate out of. They named her Snow. The name didn’t sound as good
to her as her true name: Diamondpelt.
         Suddenly, she awoke from her daydream (or more like day-nightmare) as she heard a cat call to her from
Foxflowers’ den. It sounded like Mousepaw.
         “Diamondpelt! Come back, will you? I’d love to hear what you had to say to Foxflowers. Then I can try
to interpret it myself and if I cannot, I will get Foxflowers’ help. I want to help you and the Clan. After all, part of
my duty as medicine cat apprentice is learning how to interpret prophecies and omens sent from StarClan! If
StarClan cares about us at all, they will help us during this time,” Mousepaw said. Diamondpelt walked back into
the den. She sat down with her tail curled up and told the tale to Mousepaw who listened attentively to every
single word that came out of Diamondpelt’s mouth.
Chapter One
         “May all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the tallrock for a Clan meeting!” Icestar
said with her powerful voice as she leapt onto the tallrock the next sunrise. “As you may have heard already,
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Diamondpelt spotted a twoleg near our border to EarthClan. We need constant alert patrols to make sure that
FireClan isn’t in danger. Young warriors should always be accompanied by an older warrior. This way we
hopefully won’t loose any cats to twolegs. Hopefully our cats will try their hardest to get the message to
EarthClan, AirClan, and WaterClan. I will speak to each of the leaders. Maybe an early gathering will be
necessary at Fourstones. I will get as much information as quickly as I possibly can. Moonpelt, you and
Dapplepaw set up patrols with our best and most alert warriors across every one of our borders. Check our other
territories also, as twolegs could have discovered them already. I will be on my way to EarthClan. I’ll talk to
Dawnstar. She’s our closest alliance and will definitely help us with this problem. Everyone, get back to your
duties. I will be back as soon as possible. Set up hunting groups and battle training groups. Every warrior, elder,
apprentice, and even medicine cat should be well prepared. Queens that are able also should train for battle. We
need the best Clan we can possibly have if we are to rid ourselves of this twoleg problem.”
         Icestar jumped off of the tallrock and headed for EarthClan. As she left, she heard cats talking about how
they would get rid of the twolegs if they were ever to invade. Each cat got to a specific job. Even the older kits
were practicing some battle techniques. When all this was over, Icestar would definitely make them apprentices.
They were well ready. The kits had been training themselves by watching apprentices and warriors practicing for
battle.
         Icestar eventually made it to EarthClan by running. A voice was telling her to run all the way. As if it was
from StarClan, it whispered into her ear. Run, Icestar. Just keep running. You’ll make it to EarthClan and help
save all the Clans from destruction. Even we in StarClan can never quite get the whole future. Do your best and
your Clan and all the other Clans will prosper throughout the following moons to come. A warrior will come that
will discover greater things than twolegs’ power.
         Icestar didn’t want to disobey StarClan, so she ran. She ran so fast that she got to EarthClan very quickly.
She would talk to Dawnstar, who would hopefully have some useful information for FireClan. Dawnstar had been
a member of FireClan, before her mother was exiled and she was sent to EarthClan so the cats in FireClan
wouldn’t argue with her about what her mother did. After disobeying her leader and making a terrible mistake for
the Clan, Dawnstar’s (then Dawnpelt’s) mother was exiled for the sake of the Clan and future Clan members. To
prevent Dawnpelt from being away from the forest in the life of a kittypet, she was sent to EarthClan where
nobody had heard of Dawnpelt’s mother’s mistake. Later, Dawnpelt became Dawnstar, the greatest leader
EarthClan has ever had. Icemask was her best friend who was still in FireClan. So, FireClan and EarthClan were
an alliance as requested by the two leaders. Their past hadn’t stopped them from being the greatest leaders their
Clans had ever seen.
         Once she reached EarthClan, Icestar made her way to the camp entrance. Two warriors, Moosepelt and
Shellclaw, were blocking the entrance in case of intruders with an apprentice, Daisypaw. They nodded to each
other as Icestar walked closer to them. Daisypaw stood in between the two warriors. She was helping them keep
guard for practice when she would need to as a warrior. I guess Dawnstar did a pretty good job at teaching her
warriors how to mentor an apprentice. I should have known Dawnstar would have, Icestar thought.
         “Hello Icestar,” Moosepelt said with slight friendliness. He didn’t know what to make of this strange visit
from FireClan’s leader. Whenever Icestar visited, it meant something was going on in the Clans. Shellclaw and
Moosepelt whispered to each other about that, and Daisypaw pretended to listen attentively and be a part of their
conversation. I really have no idea what they’re talking about, thought Daisypaw as she eavesdropped on the
warriors conversing about what could be going on with the Clans.
         “All right, Icestar. You can come in just as long as all you’re doing is talking to Dawnstar,” Daisypaw
said. Icestar chuckled. Silly apprentice, she thought, good kit, though.
         She made her way into EarthClan’s camp all the way hoping for some answers. If Dawnstar had nothing
to say, then the cats would just have to wait for the gathering the next day. Once she got to the leader’s den (she
could tell it was the leader’s den because it had nice brambles as a curtain over the cave that made the shelter), she
was ready to talk to Dawnstar about the Clan. Many cats seemed to be getting sick and dying. She wanted to
know what that was about. A strange, unheard-of-before disease was slowing a lot of warriors down. It killed her
to see good warriors in so much pain and suffering. The elders’ bones were getting weaker and weaker. Slowly
her Clan was coming apart at the seams. She would eventually need Dawnstar. Then more than ever her best
friend would be there to comfort and support her, just as any friend should do.
         “Dawnstar,” Icestar said, her voice trembling as she thought of all the sick cats back at her camp.
Dawnstar nodded and motioned Icestar in with her tail. The two cats talked about what was going on. Even
though Icestar did most of the talking, Dawnstar listened attentively to every word spoken. She seemed to be
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taking in the information. She seemed to want to help her friend in whatever way she could. She seemed to not
know how she could be of any help. Icestar thought of ways to prevent anything worse from happening.
                                                           ***
         Meanwhile, back in FireClan camp, Foxflowers was hurrying to take care of Honeyfur. She had a bad
case of a disease that Foxflowers couldn’t seem to figure out. Honeyfur’s cough worsened. This seemed to be the
worst case of greencough ever seen in the camp. Honeyfur had to be kept away from the other cats in FireClan
because she could be more contagious than Foxflowers thought. She didn’t take any chances. Foxflowers let
Mousepaw make a separate den for Honeyfur, since she was far too sick to be amongst the other cats. She might
get them sicker! That would defeat the purpose of having a medicine cat help you. It would be like a comedy of
errors.
         Foxflowers ran quickly through the forest to go to her pile of herbs that she’d left out the other day. They
were still there because she had hidden them well. If they weren’t well hidden, another Clan would have taken
them. Especially AirClan, who thought of nothing more than themselves and making life harder for FireClan.
         As soon as all the herbs were gathered, Foxflowers ran back to camp. She made a poultice for Honeyfur
to take because her jaw was too sore to chew the leaves. Once the poultice was taken, she made Honeyfur sleep.
         Before she knew it, it was sunset. Icestar wasn’t back yet. Whatever the cats were conversing about, it
sure took up a lot of time. Foxflowers was very tired after the stressful day with Honeyfur. She slowly drifted off
into sleep. Soon after closing her eyelids, she fell into a dreamland. This dreamland seemed familiar. She felt as if
she’d been there before. Perhaps she’d had another dream like this before and had just forgotten about it. It
seemed as if she were in the forest--just the forest that she’d fallen asleep in not too long ago. The dream became
more and more vivid as she walked more into the scene. Medicine cats’ dreams were always vivid, but never as
vivid as this one.
         “Foxflowers! Foxflowers! Help us!” shouted a young kit. She raced to try to help the kit. The sad thing
was, she was hurt herself. A deep wound was cut in her hind leg. In the distance she heard wailings of cats and
barks of dogs. She heard some warriors coughing so loudly, so strongly that she could practically feel the pain in
her own chest and her own throat.
         “As soon as power comes, destruction and death follows,” a faint voice said as if whispering in her ear.
She could hear it so clearly that it was as if a cat were actually talking to her.
         To save herself from any more pain and agony of watching cats of her own Clan and of other Clans die,
Foxflowers woke up with a jerk. Mousepaw had already been awake and caring for Honeyfur.
                                                           ***
                  “As you may know, today is the gathering at Fourstones. I will need these cats to come with me:
Moonpelt, Foxflowers, Mousepaw, Hazelpelt, Dapplepaw, and Jaypaw,” Icestar said. The cats whose names he
announced looked up immediately. They were very proud to be going to a gathering. Especially Jaypaw, who was
new to being an apprentice. This would be his first gathering. “Get any last minute duties done. Then, meet me in
the clearing. The cats that are staying here should go on patrol. We shouldn’t be that long. Although, we can
never be too sure. This gathering is a very important one, so I am not making any promises. I wouldn’t want to
disappoint my Clan, now would I?”
Chapter Two
         At the gathering, Icestar stood with Dawnstar, Whitestar, and Rainstar on one of the Fourstones.
Dawnstar told Whitestar and Rainstar about what Icestar had told her the day before. The cats listened attentively
as Icestar thought about everything that was going on. Foxflowers had told her about the prophecy that she’d
received that night. As soon as power comes, destruction and death follows, Foxflowers’ voice echoed in her head
as the prophecy was repeated.
         The cats mingled with their friends from other Clans. Although it was dangerous to have friends from a
Clan that wasn’t your own because one day you might meet them in battle, cats still had friends. There was no law
in the warrior code that said you couldn’t befriend a cat from another Clan.
         Every cat became silent. They waited as Foxflowers jumped on one of the Fourstones, next to Icestar. She
waited for Icestar to nod so she could tell the story of what she had seen in her dream, and how Diamondpelt’s
sighting could be relatively nothing compared to death, sickness, and destruction of the Clans.
         “Last night,” Foxflowers said loudly, so all the cats at Fourstones could hear her. “I had a very strange
vision-like dream. In this strange dream, we were in the forest as usual. Although I could hear wailings of cats and
barks of dogs. I raced to try to help an injured warrior, but my leg had a deep wound in it as well. So, I had to stay
                                                                                                                    62

put. There was nothing I could do. I lay on the ground, helpless. Mousepaw was already tending to the other
injured warriors. Good, I thought. Let her be of service to her Clan and to all the Clans.
         “Then, as if right in my ear, a clear voice whispered ‘as soon as peace and power comes, destruction and
death follows.’ As soon as I heard that whisper, that prophecy, I awoke with a jolt. I was afraid that I had been
muttering in my sleep. Mousepaw came to my side to see if I was alright. I told her everything was fine, but she
insisted on giving me some juniper berries to relieve the stress. She really was worried about me.
         “I haven’t had any weird thoughts or visions about this dream since. Although it has only been a day. The
dream terrified me. So, my first instinct was to go and find Icestar and tell her what happened. Luckily, the
gathering was not that far away by that point so we could tell the other cats of the forest about this. We need to be
very, very cautious. First, Diamondpelt worried about the twolegs. I am afraid that the problem is much more
serious than that. No, far more serious. Some deadly disease will be passed through the forest. Medicine cats
should keep their very sick cats away from the cats that aren’t as sick. We can’t have cats dying on us. Now, I’m
no leader but I still think that we should take precautions. We as medicine cats need as many herbs as possible.
Our cats’ lives are at stake. I don’t want to risk anything. Right now, the smallest issue is the twoleg problem.
They’ve never cared about us before, so why should they now? It just doesn’t seem right. Now I will have Icestar
focus her opinion on this incident,” Foxflowers said. She heard cats letting out mrrows of “what? This can’t be
happening! The most deadly disease we know of is black cough and there hasn’t been a case of that in moons!”
         Dawnstar let out a hiss of firmness to get them silent. All the cats remained silent and still. An eerie sense
of the scent of dogs ran through Foxflowers’ nose. She froze on the spot, terrified. Perhaps that was why she
could hear the barking of dogs in her dream. StarClan wouldn’t abandon them! They wouldn’t send dogs to kill
every cat in the forest! Would they? StarClan seemed even more and more suspicious by the second.
         Foxflowers tried to keep her faith in StarClan throughout the gathering. She needed most to have faith in
StarClan. It seemed more and more unrealistic to her. The thought of some magical force that could help you
whenever you needed it, just didn’t make sense. Now that she thought of it, the cats who thought StarClan was
real in the first place, could have been hallucinating. Had she been hallucinating? That didn’t seem right, because
every time the cats where in peril, StarClan sent her messages to figure out ways to help them. She was sure
StarClan was real, but all her visions, prophecies, and omens just seemed like blurs in her imagination now.
Nothing was clear except the fact that something needed to be done. For the sake of the Clans.
Chapter Three
         Once they were back in the camp, Foxflowers’ mind still was in a flurry of what was real and what was in
her imagination. Perhaps StarClan was real and the cats didn’t just have over active imaginations. That seemed
highly impossible, yet it still seemed very real to Foxflowers. Somehow, in her mind, she knew there was a
StarClan out there. All she needed to do was figure out how to get closer to them. Her warrior ancestors wouldn’t
want her to loose faith in them!
         Immediately after the gathering, Icestar sent out patrols of their greatest warriors. Some of these were
Honeyfur, Hazelpelt, Stormcloud, Rainshadow and an apprentice, Moutainpaw. They were to walk every border
around the camp and to not return until every paw step was covered.
         Before Honeyfur went on patrol, Foxflowers double and triple checked to make sure she was okay. The
case of what seemed to be blackcough seemed to have disappeared. How did that happen? Just the day before she
was too sick to go to the gathering. Then, she was fine. Was this another one of StarClan’s weird omens? After
all, once all the cats were healed and fine, then destruction and terror followed in her vision.
                                                           ***
         A feeling of worry invaded Diamondpelt’s mind. She could smell something. A terrible smell. A scent
that no cat ever wanted to smell. At first she couldn’t tell what the foul scent was. Then, she recognized it as the
mortal enemy for all cats. Dogs. As long as the dogs didn’t enter the camp, all cats were fine. Still, she ran again
to Icestar, just as she had before when the twolegs seemed like a problem. She told Icestar about the dogs, and
Icestar had a scared expression on her face. Her whiskers, nose, and tail twitched.
         Icestar sprinted out of her den. She leapt swiftly onto the tallrock to make a quick announcement. All cats
saw her before she even spoke. They stopped in their tracks, ears pricked up. Cats whispered to each other to be
quiet as Icestar spoke.
         “All right,” Icestar said in her powerful voice, “I know this isn’t the time I usually give announcements,
but this one is urgent. Diamondpelt scented dogs along our border. All cats need to be in battle training. Every
single one of you that is able to fight. Every elder that doesn’t have the ability to fight any longer, help
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Foxflowers with herbs. She’ll give you further instruction. For now, keep an eye and ear out for dogs. I’m
afraid we don’t have much time left.”
                                                          ***
         Icestar was right. Soon enough, not even after two sunrises and sunsets, the dogs came. They came
unexpectedly, fiercely growling, teeth bared. A gruesome battle was fought. AirClan, WaterClan, FireClan, and
EarthClan against big dogs. Foxflowers fought, too but tried to heal any wounded cats quickly. She spared as
many lives as possible.
         Cats used all the attacks they’d learned as apprentices. They learned well, because they had great mentors.
Each cat eligible fought so well. The battle ended when the cats drove away the dogs. This wasn’t easy, though.
Many lives were lost.
                                                          ***
         One night, not long after the battle with the dogs, Icestar sat in the clearing looking up at the stars to
hopefully get a last glimpse of the fallen warriors killed by dogs. Foxflowers and Moonpelt sat beside her, also
gazing up at the sky. They all were remembering the times with the few cats who passed from FireClan:
Mousepaw, Foxflowers’ apprentice, was lost and others included Brightwing, Mothpelt, Oneeye, and Dapplepelt.
They would be missed very much in the Clan.
         “How do you think they’ll do in StarClan?” Icestar asked. She remembered herself as a young kit, asking
the previous medicine cat, Whitepelt, about the same kind of thing. Her mother had been lost in a battle with
rogue cats. Now, many moons later, she was sitting there with her deputy and her medicine cat, asking the same
exact thing.
         “I think they’ll do well. Each of them. Mousepaw was young, but she’ll manage without me. She always
said she was excited about meeting her ancestors,” Foxflowers said. She sighed as she remembered her great
apprentice.
         “Yes; and the warriors were very skilled and intelligent,” Moonpelt said. Icestar and Foxflowers nodded.
Icestar’s tail twitched. A triumphant look breezed across her face.
         “And to make sure we don’t loose any more cats to StarClan, next time dogs or rogues come across, we
are going to show them that the warrior cats will always win. No matter what battle, we will band together. No
species will destroy the clans,” Icestar said. The medicine cat and deputy nodded and they proceeded to their
dens.
         That night, Icestar dreamt of the Clans prospering for many more moons to come. Yes; this is what life is
really going to be like. No dogs, no rogues, no badgers. That’s how it should be. She thought. And many moons
later, Icestar’s vision was right. She was perfectly safe in her Clan. Every cat was safe.


                                       Spot and the Mysterious Kidnapping
                                              by Lily Rose Longton

           In a land deep in the ground, there is a castle, the Castle on a Cloud. Now this castle is not really on a
cloud; it is lying on the cold hard earth. But it is called the Castle on a Cloud because of its remarkable features.
Made of crystal and sugar, only people who have been granted to look at this beauty are allowed to. If you have
been granted, then you have a brave soul. That is where are story begins, with a creature thinking never to crawl
into that castle, who is brought there one day…
        As he jumped off his bark bed, throwing on his longer claws for effect, his mama yelled, “Son! You better
not forget to brush your scales today! And did you finish your homework on how to disable a soldier? That’s
important stuff, you know.”
         Ignoring his mother, Mrs. Puff, he scrambled all his books together, and sprinted out the door.
         “You forgot to eat breakfast!” Mrs. Puff sighed. What would she ever do with poor Spot?
         Spot ran across the stone path, almost out of breath. Suddenly, he stopped. Spot looked out toward his
mother’s picket fence. There was a shadow! He glanced away, but when he looked back, there was no shadow. He
then remembered he was late for class! Leaping over the egg shell-white barrier, he glanced up toward the
gleaming brown mud. Quickly, he closed his green eyes when he looked at the Castle on a Cloud. That was the
last thing that went through Spot’s mind, because right then, Kyle, the wood’s grumpy troll, jumped up and hit
Spot on the head with his wooden club! Spot fell into a daze. He was knocked out.
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         Three hours later, Spot woke up. He was confused, as most people would be, and the only thing that he
remembered was running out the door to go to school and seeing the white Castle. Spot tried to stand, but hit his
small head and fell right down on a concrete surface. His instincts told him to scratch, so he did. No luck. He was
in a cage! Not only was he trapped in a foreign place; there was no light.
          Spot thought to himself, I can’t panic! If I panic, then I won’t get any- his thinking was interrupted by the
faint sound of voices, whispers.
         Meanwhile, back at Mrs. Puff’s cottage, everything was sweet. Mrs. Puff looked outside to make sure
everything in her garden was growing peacefully.
         “If those darn squirrels have dug up my flowers again, oh they’re going to be very sorry! I’ll have them
scrubbing my scales for three weeks straight!” Mrs. Puff was satisfied with her punishment. When she flung the
door open to find no ripped up flowers, she smiled. Spinning ‘round on her heels, she walked back inside to the
sound of a screaming kettle about to burst. Jumping to it, she felt relaxed again.
         Back in the cage, poor little Spot was trying to escape, or find some way to see at least. Even his dragon
eyes could not help him in this situation. Seconds later he was looking up at a silver staircase carved with little
roses and crystals. Where was I? he thought to himself. Oh no! I’m in… the Castle on a Cloud! he realized.
Slapping his eyelids shut, Spot began to wonder how he had ended up where he thought never to be. Well, people
who are brought to the Castle have to be summoned, he thought to himself, a little confused. But I was not
summoned... he said quietly. Puzzled, Spot relaxed all his tense scales, knowing that he could not think all
strained.
         “Sssspppppp.”
         “Be quiet! He’ll hear you.”
         Voices! There’s someone else here in the room with me. But who? Spot was baffled. Unexpectedly, he felt
a slight push on his back, and then heard the clang of a chain. Someone was picking him up off he ground! He
tried to scratch and slither out of the cage, but then, another light was turned on, and he was looking down at the
crystal floor. Thirty feet off the ground, Spot inched back into his cage, and stayed put.
         “Hello!” a low, grouchy voice called, “I, am your personal whip-man. Where would you like to be
whipped today master?” the man said sarcastically.
          Spot shivered in fear and gave no reply.
         “Kyle! Don’t scare the little fellow. Remember, it’s only his first day here.”
         Spot was so confused! Who were these people, and what did they want with poor Spot?
          So Spot spoke up. “Excuse me, but I think you have the wrong person here. I mean, I was just walking
to school and then I suddenly fell asleep and woke up here in the Castle in this cage!” Spot paused, “If you don’t
have the wrong person here, then can you at least tell me why I’m here?”
          Feeling slightly more comfortable, Spot slowly opened his eyes. In front of him lay the beautiful
staircase. But not only that, there were glass couches and tables and flowers everywhere. It was an amazing sight!
Looking around, Spot was in shock. He could not believe that there could be such a thing, but also he couldn’t
believe that these magnificent glass features were so close to him his entire life long! This was unbelievable. Spot
then unfocussed his mind and peered out across the crystal floor. There he spotted a little brown bedside table, but
it was in the middle of a little room with nothing else in it. He made out what looked like a little red jewel.
          His thoughts were interrupted by an unbearable squeaking noise! What was that? he thought to himself.
Suddenly, a little nymph scrambled across the floor screaming. What was he doing here? This was all extremely
weird to Spot. Seconds later, a huge man with a big club came walking after the tiny, frightened nymph. It looked
as though the big man had nothing to worry about. I would feel the same way if I were him too! But gosh! Spot
thought, I’m so sorry for the little nymph. I wonder why they’re hurting him? That’s just so mean! I don’t
understand… Spot was bewildered by these actions. Then came the voice of the king. At least, that’s what Spot
thought it was.
         “Igor! I thought I told you never to bring your meals out into the central area! I am very disappointed in
you. And you are not only disobeying my rules, you are interrupting a meeting and my soon to be dinner! Be
gone!”
         “I’m sorry sir,” came the quiet humble reply. He slumped back through the tiny door way.
         “Now, let me tell you why you are here, what you are to do, and what I am going to do to you.”
         A whisper was spoken as a young man ran up to the King, and spoke into his ear.
         “Mum. Mhmm. Yes. They will. Oh! Thank you for reminding me.” This was the reply from the high and
mighty King.
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        “Yes. Anything for you my maj-“ His words were cut off by the scolding of the all powerful one.
        “Leave! I don’t need to know any more information about how amazing I am. Go!”
        The messenger man ran away.
        “Now that there are no more interruptions.” He paused and looked around to see if anyone was there to see
him. Unfortunately there was not. “We can continue with my introduction: I am the almighty King Oliver! I am
going to eat you for dinner. You will be seasoned, sauced, and salted. Mhmm! That sounds delicious doesn’t it?
Gosh I love being in control! All right. Back to reality. You, Spot, are to bite your toenails and claws off so that
they are not so long and pointy. Oh! Another thing, you are also to listen to the cook and do exactly what he
says.”
         Spot looked around puzzled. He was to be eaten! This could not be right! What had he ever done wrong?
Mama would be so ashamed! he thought. No! She would be worried! I can’t believe this is happening. What if I
were to escape? I wonder what the old King might think of that, Spot wandered off in thought. Wait! What if I
were to listen to what the poor cook were to say, because didn’t the King mention that he hadn’t had a good meal
in years? And that he had hired a new cook (the cook’s only son), because something mysterious happened to the
previous one? I bet he poisoned him! What a wretched king.
         Spot decided to follow what he thought was the only smart way to get out. Too bad he wouldn’t be able
to see the beautiful princess though! He had been dreaming all his life about looking at a woman so stunning that
was willing to give up his life for her. Someday, someday, she’ll come to me and jump into my arms! And we’ll
run away together and- again, his thoughts and day-dreams were disconnected by the obnoxious yet confused
voice of the King.
        “So! Will you do as I say and listen to the cook?” Not even waiting for a reply, he continued, “Because if
you don’t, then all the men in my army will hunt you down, and bring you back here to spend the rest of your life
in a cage!”
        Spot felt threatened! Though he knew that the only way to escape was to let him say these things, and
pretend like he was following the rules and listening to the cook.
         So came his humble reply, “Sir. I am willing to listen to the cook and do whatever he says. There is one
thing I must live by though. I know that you may not keep this promise, or listen to me because of the creature
that I am, but nothing, and I mean nothing is to touch my mother! Do you hear me?”
         Spot was very concerned with his mother, and he knew that it was getting close to the time when he
should be arriving home from school, so he’d better hurry!
        “All right. No one is to touch the mother. Mrs. Puff, that is? Is that right?”
        “Yes. Yes, that is her name.” Spot answered shamefully. He didn’t know why though. People had always
asked him things like that, with a wondering tone in their voice. He ignored the haunting thought of someone
hurting his mother. “So! Can I meet the cook yet?”
        “Soon enough little one, soon enough.”
        The King didn’t seem in a rush at all! That worried Spot. He had to escape as soon as possible! Meaning
that he had to see the cook and find a way out of the kitchen! Oh no! he thought to himself, I hope my plan will
work out all right!


        “Now, into the kitchen!” The King sounded pleased with his decisions.
         Spot felt the metal cage get light, and suddenly he was on the move. Swaying back, and forth, and back,
and forth. Gripping the iron with all his might, Spot couldn’t wait to land on the kitchen counter and get ready to
become dinner, at least that’s what the King thought…
        Finally landing on the granite surface, Spot looked around the room to see if there was anyway out. Hmm.
There’s a little window to the far right of me; that might be hard to get to though. There’s a little pot hole-thing,
no, not even I could fit through that tiny space. Spot didn’t know which way to go, or how to even get out of the
cage! That was the first thing that needed to happen before he was able to leave this wretched castle. Spot heard a
thump, and then the kitchen door swung open. It was the cook!
        “All right, what do we have today?!” the cook seemed awfully cheery. Strange, Spot thought.
        “I’m just a little dragon, but I don’t know why the King picked me! I mean, there are many other bigger
dragons out there. Why me?”
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        The cook answered with a chuckle, “His Majesty has interesting customs. I truly do not know, myself!
But my friend,” he paused for a brief moment looking around at the cluttered room, “I know a way to get out if
you like, little one.”
        Spot opened his eyes as wide as a horses hoof. He was so surprised! Could this really be happening? That
the cook was going to tell him a way out? Wow! This was going to be easier than he thought! Unless of course he
was lying! And he was just setting up a trap! Oh what do I do? Should I listen, and risk getting broiled? Or
should I trust the cook and have half the chance of escaping and seeing Mrs. Puff? It was a chance Spot had to
take. So he said, “Yes! Please tell me Mr. Cook! Please. My mama is going to be very upset if she found out that I
died because the cook wanted to eat me for dinner! The answer is yes. Tell me the way out!” And so the cook did:
        “I’ll undo your cage, and pretend to be getting you ready for seasoning, and then, you’ll jump out and
scramble up through the pots and pans. Then I’ll see you and grab a random tool and pretend to hit you. You’ll
continue to run through the pots until you reach the little ledge. By this time a maid will probably have heard me,
so she’ll run into the room to try to help me, but I can distract her by telling her what happened, while you climb
over the ledge and jump out the window. Ok?” The cook took a long breath, waiting for a reply.
        Spot was so intrigued by the action, that all he could say was, “Wow.”
        “All right. Now I’m going to get some seasoning; don’t play round while I’m gone. Think about the plan!”
        That was the thing though, Spot could only think about the plan! It was like the cook hypnotized him! For
the short time that the cook was gone, Spot thought about how he was supposed to crawl up through the pots and
pans, and not get hit by the tool that his helper picked up. A little complex, Spot thought. When the cook walked
back into the room he started to sing and make big a racket. Then, he unlocked the cage!
         Spot was ready. He was ready to jump back out into the real world! But he couldn’t do that right then; he
needed to focus and follow the plan. So he then jumped up onto one of the shiny pots and scampered around all
the kitchenware to the top window.
         Right then, the maid ran into the room and saw Spot escaping! Unfortunately, she had heard that King
Oliver was eating him for dinner. She grunted, grabbed a giant fork, and began flinging the fork at Spot! He was
so frightened that he forgot the plan entirely! Cook sprinted over to the window, and tried to help Spot out, but the
maid pushed him out of the way. So Spot took a huge breath in, stretched his skinny torso, and jumped out into
the world! He was safe again! Then he ran home as fast as he could to his mother, and he never went back to the
Castle on a Cloud again!


                                   The Mysterious Adventure of David the Giant
                                                by Alex Thomas

         Far, far away from earth, there is a mythical place where giants are the dominant species. Our character’s
name is David. He is a huge giant.
         This particular giant lives on this mysterious world. He himself is thirty feet tall, an average height for a
twelve-year old boy. His house stretches hundreds of feet long but is not in very good condition. It has bad
insulation and gets very warm during the summer. In this region, only one giant exists. His resources are running
low, and his house falling apart. It’s a tough life for a twelve-year old giant.
         There is a big unexplored part of this giant world. Even though they are relatively advanced, they haven’t
discovered sailing or flying. The entire known world to them is an island about three hundred miles long by a
hundred fifty miles across. David’s house is situated right smack in the middle of the southern half of the island.
Located roughly two hundred miles away is the big city of Metropolis. There are many small towns and tribes of
Native crazies.
         David is virtually uneducated due to his remote home, although he does know how to speak the language
“Giantese.” He learned this language from his mom when he was about four years old. Soon after she taught him
it, she disappeared, seemingly into thin air. He never knew his dad, although his mom told him he was a great
man. He’s had to support himself ever since he was four, but he is a great hunter so he likes it.
         Just to be clear, giants are very savage creatures, and in this world, everything is huge. Trees tower up to
almost a hundred feet tall, and the giants’ prey, deer and rabbits, are twice the size on that planet as on ours. Also,
giants have no need for oxygen; their system can take in any gas and filter it so they can breathe it. They also have
no need to be hydrated because that is just the way they are created.
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          This mythical place is almost exactly like earth except that 99.5% of the world is covered by land; so
obviously, it means that this island is located in that .5% of water. It has many lush valleys with wildlife
flourishing with in them. This is where giants mainly get their food supply. A jungle covers the island about
halfway between David’s house and Metropolis. Typical giants enjoy each other’s company, but David is a
strange case. He hates being with other giants, so that is exactly why he lives in such a remote spot.
          David has had one major adventure in his short lifetime. He decided he needed to have some adventure in
his life, so he embarked on a quest to find his long lost mom.
          “Skipper, I’m going to find mom,” David said to his pet deer. Skipper has been one of his companions
throughout his life; David hasn’t minded his company throughout his life, mainly because he can’t speak.
          “No, Skipper, you can’t come with me. You’ll just slow me down,” David explained.
          At six in the morning giant time, he decided to get up out of his bed and leave his ramshackle house. The
previous night he was up late packing about a month’s worth of meat, a few changes of sturdy pants, and a couple
of leather jackets for the cold nights ahead.
          At seven a.m. he finally left his house after eating a solid breakfast and making last minute checks.
          “Goodbye, Skipper, look after the house for me.” With that, he stepped into the cold outside. David
knows that wilderness stretches around his house for about seventy-five to eighty miles before the jungle comes.
He started his journey at a lope that giants can keep up all day.
          By the end of the first day, he was about twenty miles closer to the jungle. The second day he was about
halfway there. During this time, he thought about what he should do once he reached Metropolis. He needed to
station some investigators around the city so he could come a little closer to his long lost mom. Then once one of
them made contact with his mom, he would be so happy that he found his mom. Of course, these were all his
thoughts if his mom actually was still alive.
          The next day around dusk, he barely survived a huge scare. “Oh crud, there’s a Native tribe, and I’m out
in the open,” David thought.
          All of a sudden, one of the brown-skinned natives in a loincloth pointed and shouted something in his
language. A dozen throwing axes sliced through the air and nearly hit David. David swore loudly then ran in the
opposite direction from the Natives. There was an unseen trip wire disguised as a bunch of plants. David
attempted to jump over the obstacle but failed and hit his head. It had a hard impact on the ground. The Natives
caught up to him and tied him up. David understood little bits of their language, and they wanted to sacrifice him
to some god.
          He very loudly said,” Hub jab.” All of a sudden the Natives bowed down, whispered some holy words,
and prayed with their eyes closed. During that time, he managed to escape the primitive camp into the near
darkness...
          On the third day, he could see the dense trees of the jungle. He was very hungry after not eating for two
days. He decided to eat some dried meat from his pack. By then, his shoes were gross and torn up, so he changed
into brand new ones. Halfway through the next day, he finally reached the jungle. David was really tired and
decided to sleep underneath the canopy of the jungle. From then on, sleeping would be really rough in the high
humidity of the warm jungle.
          He had to cut his way through the thick forest with a machete he’d brought along with him. “Shank, slice,
grind.” David’s ears were ringing with the sounds by the end of the day. The slicing took a heavy toll on his arms;
he was really sore and overpowered by his weariness. He made only about five miles progress, which was
excruciatingly slow for him, considering he covered about twenty miles a day in the grasslands. That went on for
about a week. Then David took out his map and realized he was about halfway through the jungle. By that time,
he had toned arms and was skilled at wielding a machete. He also had an uncountable amount of mosquito bites,
which made sleeping very itchy. Unfortunately, he forgot to bring bug repellent.
          A few days later, he had made good progress and now was three-fourths of the way through. Later that
night, he felt really sluggish and slow, so he decided to turn in early. David woke up and realized that he had been
bitten by a poisonous bug. Sores clouded his face so you couldn’t distinguish his features, his legs swelled up, and
David was in agony. He had to recuperate for the next few weeks and was mad about his stunted progress. This
bite would have killed a normal human being, but giants are very strong so it had a weak effect. If David had read
the Herb Book by the shaman, Jacoob Butler, he would have cured himself within a couple days.
          Those weeks passed by slowly, and finally he got out of the humid forest. By the time he got out, he
realized he needed a shower extremely badly. He bathed in the small river running into the rain forest. He got out
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and dried himself. He dressed in fresh clothes. Afterward, he heard a small hiss of compressed air, and he felt
something prick his neck, then darkness…
         He woke up and was instantly alert. An average giant (about forty-five feet tall) filled his vision. He was a
curious creature, dressed in leather boots, a military helmet, and a black jumpsuit. He had broad shoulders and
was very muscular. David thought he was a military officer and then realized he wasn’t because he wore no
badge. This character told him that his name was Jared. He accidently shot him with his dart gun because Jared
thought he was a cop. David wondered why Jared would shoot a cop and thought to ask him but then dismissed
the idea as Jared would get angry.
         David took in the air around him and calmed down, understanding that they were on the outskirts of
Metropolis. Jared must have taken him there while he was unconscious. Grasslands dominated the landscape, and
the moon shown brightly on the ground. The sky was bright from the lights of Metropolis.
         David and Jared made good friends because they were both nowhere near their homes. David told Jared
about his quest, and it turned out that Jared would love to help him because he had nothing better to do. David
would later find out this was a dire lie. Jared and David later started what should have been a quick journey to the
middle of Metropolis.
         About six hours later, they were ten miles away from the city, and they were on an actual road when they
spotted a Motok C3RX, the equivalent to a motorcycle but as big as a car with room for five giants. There were
three passengers and a driver, plus a gunner with a big machine gun. The Motok was an army vehicle, and David
had no idea what a military vehicle would be doing out here in an uninhabited place. It drove silently on until it
spotted the two figures. Then with sirens and lights blazing, it sped up and pulled right beside the two friends. The
gunner had his sights right on Jared. He also noticed that the five giants were all part of a KASC team, which is
the same as a SWAT team. He knew this because he once read a book on the security of Metropolis. The three
passengers ran out of the Motok and surrounded David and Jared with assault rifles raised. The driver issued a
harsh command to hold fire.
         In a menacing voice he said, “Jared Blackhawk, we have finally caught you and your accomplice,
HAHAHAHAHA.”
         With that David said, “But wait.”
         Then he heard a hiss of compressed air as Jared got one of his poison darts off. Then he heard a bunch of
assault weapon fire and felt a stinging sensation in his right shoulder as blood pooled in his leather jacket. Before
falling into the deep abyss of unconsciousness, he saw a KASC team member down on the ground and then
blackness…
         David woke up in a dank jail cell. He assumed he was in Metropolis, mainly because that’s were the
government’s stronghold was and he could hear horns of cars in the distance. David needed to get out of the jail to
resume his quest for his mom. He had no idea where Jared went or why he was here. An interrogator came in and
asked David a lot of random questions about why he was with Jared. David told him everything, and the
interrogator realized that David was totally innocent. David also learned that Jared had been associated with the
Mafia. He had been selling illegal weapons to different gangs. David was really mad at Jared for saying that he
was just a wanderer, not a wanted criminal.
         The police released him into the big city of Metropolis. Metropolis was basically a supersized San
Francisco, full of tall skyscrapers, good restaurants, and old apartments. David was sick of eating a bunch of dried
meat and he was starving. He decided to eat at the famous restaurant called Blue Cheese Crepes. They had
delicious sandwiches but were famous for their blue cheese crepes. He was seated in the spacious dining room
complemented by old-fashioned curtains. He noticed a tall woman seemingly sharing the same features that he
had. She looked exactly like him. Emotions swept over him as he realized he had finally found his long lost mom!


                                             Fred the Talking Baseball
                                               by Alexander Schnier

        Once upon a time, a talking baseball lived a very boring life. He woke up every day in a big box full of
baseballs, waiting to be picked to be one of the baseballs that would be involved in a San Francisco Giants major
league baseball game at AT&T Park. Fred’s dream was to be hit to a nice owner who would take good care of
him.
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         Fred had had a very hard childhood. His parents left him when he was just two-years old. He was also
an only child, so his whole life had been very boring. The only exciting part of Fred’s life was that he had his best
friend, George. They had been friends since he was three-years old and had been close now for twenty years. But
then one day, Fred’s dream came true.
         In the ballpark the umpire picked Fred and George and some other baseballs to be involved in the baseball
game.
         “Yes! This is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” said Fred.
         “I am so excited. Who would have ever thought we would actually be involved in a real Giants’ game,”
said George.
         As the umpire walked onto the field, he said, “PLAY BALL.”
         Then Fred and George knew it was actually time to start the game. The Giants were playing the Los
Angeles Dodgers in the afternoon. The announcer named the starting line-ups, and the Giants took the field. Tim
Lincecum took the mound and was the starting pitcher. The umpire threw a random baseball to Tim to start the
game. The game started with the first pitch: Strike One.
          The only bad part about this wonderful day for Fred and George was that they couldn’t see what was
going on in the game. But that problem was solved when the baseball that was just being used in the game got hit
into foul territory, and George was thrown out to the pitcher to be played with in the game. Now Fred, who was
still waiting in the home umpire’s pocket, could hear how the game was going every single time George got
thrown to the plate. Every single time George was thrown to the plate and was in the catcher’s glove, he would
tell Fred what was going on in the game.
         After a couple of innings, George had already been hit into foul territory, which made Fred very sad. Fred
could tell George was gone because he couldn’t hear George’s frequent updates on the game. Fred and George
had been friends since they had been just born, so this made Fred felt like he lost a member of his family. Fred
cried and cried.
         "Come on Fred," said Fred to himself. "Pull yourself together. You are about to play in a real major
league baseball game. This is supposed to be fun.”
          After saying that to himself, Fred was as excited as he would ever be. He was thinking to himself about
his lifelong dream to play in a major league baseball game. And how he would be caught in the stands by a nice
owner, and he would live a happy life. Fred also wanted to get signed by a famous baseball player as an
autograph. He would be passed down to his owner’s son, his son, and to his son, for many generations.
         The game was in the top of the eighth, and the Giants were losing to the Dodgers four to three. That was
the only thing Fred could be sad about because he was a Giants fan and always had been. Fred knew he was the
next baseball to be used because he was the only one left in the home plate umpire’s pocket. It would only be a
matter of time until Fred was involved in a real baseball game.
         And there it was, the last baseball besides Fred was just hit into foul territory, so that meant that Fred was
going to be used in the game next. And it was true.
         Fred was thrown to the pitcher starting in the top of the ninth. The Dodgers were still winning four to
three. After a couple of hits, the Dodgers scored two more runs to make the score six to three, with the Dodgers
winning. After the Dodgers scored their two and only runs of the ninth inning, the Giants got three more outs and
they were up to hit.
          Fred was still in the baseball game. He really wished that the Giants could score four or more runs so
they could win. Fred had high hopes until the Giants hit into two straight outs. He started to think that everything
that was supposed to happen wouldn’t.
         Fred thought, “Maybe my dream will never happen; it was just not meant to be.” But after Fred said that,
he got pitched to the plate four times, the Giants got a walk, then another, then another, until the bases were
loaded.
         And then the Giants best player came up, Bengie Molina, the Giants’ slowest runner but best hitter. First
pitch, he swung and missed: Strike One. The crowd booed and screamed. They all wanted Bengie to get at least a
base hit so that the Giants could make a comeback and win. And then the next pitch came, called Strike Two. This
time the Giants fans in the crowd were booing at the umpire. Fred was really scared about what was going to
happen. He had no idea if there would be a single, a double, a triple, a strikeout, a pop fly, a groundout, or even a
grand slam. If that happened, the Giants would win the game. That is why Fred loved baseball so much because
anything could happen. After the two strikes, Bengie Molina was really patient and took three straight pitches,
which were balls. Now the count was three balls and two strikes. Everything was on the line here. The pitcher got
                                                                                                                     70

set and threw, BANG. Fred was hit toward the centerfield bleachers, and the Giants WON! Fred was really
happy that he was involved in a real baseball game. Especially that the Giants won. All that was left was that Fred
wanted to be caught by a nice owner.
         Bang! Fred landed in the glove of a fan in the centerfield bleachers. Fred was driven home after the game
in his new owner’s car. When Fred and his owner got home, Fred was given very special treatment. He was put
into a case to be kept there forever. And right then, Fred knew his dream was done.


                                                    Taco Love
                                                by Annie Wapniarski

         Once upon a time, in a Taco Bell near you, lived a group of amigos. This seemingly normal Taco Bell
was just a regular fast food restaurant, with its florescent lights and hard, dull benches, but there was something
slightly off about this one. On the block around the corner from you, in the Taco Bell, behind the trash can, by the
back door, wedged between the bench, lived a group of individuals who lived in a mess of love. One of these
amigos was a taco named Jorge who was deeply in love with Juanita. Juanita, the burrito, had a humongous crush
on the sexy, muscular nachos, Thomas. But Thomas has been secretly thinking of the saucy Rosalita. Rosalita, the
soft taco, couldn’t help but fall for a sweet guy like Jorge; and that’s where our tale begins, with a mixed-up love
story.
         Jorge looked at Juanita with loving eyes. He gazed at her delicate lips, thinking how great they would feel
on his own. He thought of her eyes, two bright, shining stars in the evening sky. ‘Why doesn’t she love me?’ was
all he could think.
         As Juanita stared at Thomas, she couldn’t help but feel eyes on her. She glanced up, catching the eye of
Jorge. Juanita quietly thought to herself, ‘Had he been staring at me? Oh well. Thomas looks gorgeous! His body
is so chiseled and buff, as every nacho should be. Oh. My. Gosh! His smile is to die for…’
         Thomas felt very awkward as he watched Juanita gawk at him. ‘If I can catch the eye of the beautiful
Juanita, why can’t I get Rosalita? Ugh! Should I talk to Juanita to make Rosalita jealous? No, she wouldn’t even
be annoyed…’
         Rosalita gazed intently at Jorge, hoping he would notice her. ‘Gosh! Why is he such a sweetie?’ His
gentlemanly manners were more and more appealing as she watched him move about. He had intense eyes and
fairly decent lips. Why had he not told her of his love?’
         Jorge soon decided he couldn’t take it much longer; he needed to tell Juanita he loved her. He walked
with confident steps towards his lover. As he came towards Juanita, Rosalita quickly stepped in front of him.
         “Rosalita, I really need to talk to Juanita!” Jorge said impatiently.
         “Well, I need to talk to you,” Rosalita said in a seductive voice.
         “Fine, but make it quick,” Jorge replied, finally giving up on getting out of the conversation.
         “Just so you know, I think you are the hottest taco around.”
         “Rosalita, please stop! I think you are a great person, really, but I only like you as a friend. Is that okay?”
Jorge interrupted. “I really am sorry, but I am madly in love with Juanita.”
         “Oh …well, that’s okay, I just thought you liked me, that’s all,” Rosalita replied in a sad voice.
         “But I think Thomas really likes you. Again I am so sorry, but would it be okay if I caught up with
Juanita now?” Jorge asked.
         “Of course, go ahead,” Rosalita answered, deep in thought.
         ‘I am so still going for Jorge! I mean everyone knows that Juanita is like obsessed with Thomas, and so
when Jorge tells Juanita that he loves her, she won’t even like him back, leaving me the rebound! Perfect…’ She
continued making plans for her and Jorge, after he got over Juanita and fell head over heals in love with her. Then
everyone would be happy.
         As Jorge walked away, he felt horrible. ‘I hope she’s okay,’ he thought as he looked for the object of his
affection. But strangely, Juanita was nowhere to be found. ‘Oh well, I’ll talk to her hopefully tomorrow.’
         The next day came quickly as Jorge pondered when to speak of his love. ‘Should I tell her in the night,
with the evening sky? How about in the morning with the sun rising? Or should I tell her now, just to get it over
with?’ Then another thought popped into his head. ‘What if Juanita didn’t love him back? I’ll be fine, unless she
likes someone else.’
                                                                                                                71

         He decided just to go for it. He walked quickly, hoping that he wouldn’t be stopped and that Juanita
would not be distracted. He came to a halt when he was right in front of her; she had a dreamy look in her eyes as
she stared into space.
         “Hi Juanita!” Jorge said brightly, instantly cheering up at seeing Juanita.
         “Oh, hi Jorge,” Juanita replied, finally coming out of her trance.
         “So, there’s something I want to tell you.”
         “Do you think Thomas likes me? He keeps looking at me. Don’t you think we would make the cutest
couple?” Juanita interrupted.
         “So you like Thomas?” Jorge almost whispered.
         “Well yeah! Have you seen him? He is delicious!” Juanita replied happily.
         Jorge quietly walked away in despair.
         “Wait!” Juanita shouted as she hurried to catch up with him. “Will you talk to him for me?”
         “Why don’t you talk to him yourself?” Jorge replied angrily, his voice rising.
         “Because, it would be so much easier if you did it for me? Please?”
         “NO!”
         “Fine, be that way!” Juanita yelled as she walked away.
         Jorge was depressed. He was more than depressed; he was in a never-ending pit of despair. He needed to
think this through.
         “Hey, Thomas!” Juanita said flirtatiously.
          Thomas glanced up to see Juanita staring at him. He had never felt more awkward in his life.
         “Hi,” Thomas said bluntly, just to be polite.
         “So…” Juanita started.
         “Juanita, we need to talk,” Thomas said quietly.
         “What about?”
         “I feel like you have been staring at me lately, and it has been making me feel really awkward.”
         Juanita blushed, she felt caught in the act.
         “Well, I only stare at you because I like you so much…”
         “Juanita, please don’t do this to me; I already feel bad enough. Truth is, I have feelings for Rosalita.
There, I said it,” Thomas sighed deeply.
          Juanita said nothing. She felt confused and unloved. ‘So Thomas doesn’t like me after all. Wait, so what
was Jorge going to say to me?’
         Rosalita watched Jorge from afar. ‘Why is Jorge so sad? If anything he should be happy now that there is
nothing stopping him from liking me,’ was all she could think. ‘I’ll go over and talk to him. Maybe he will be
more willing to go out with me.’
         “Hey Jorge, what’s wrong?” Rosalita said, her voice dripping with sympathy.
         Jorge just grunted in response.
         “Come on, you know you can tell me,” Rosalita said sweetly.
         “Juanita doesn’t like me, she adores Thomas,” Jorge said in a voice unlike his own.
         “Maybe you and I should go out sometime.” Rosalita added, “You know, to make you feel better.”
         “Maybe,” he said in an unconvincing voice and with that he thought in silence. ‘Do I really love her? Of
course, she is the sweetest most gorgeous creature around. Her loving personality is irresistible to me.’ He then
thought of her beautiful features. Her luscious lip, her awe-inspiring eyes, every aspect of her was something he
loved. ‘Why do I love her so much? Could I ever get over her?’ The answer was obvious as he thought more and
more about it. He soon came to the conclusion that he loved her and always would.
          As he came back to the real world, he saw Juanita about to be squished! Jorge quickly threw Juanita to
the side as the giant approached, with booming steps. As the giant neared, Jorge prepared himself for the crunch
that would follow. Juanita watched silently in shock as the giant stomped on Jorge, leaving a groove across his
golden face. As she heard Jorge grunt she realized what he had done. He had saved her from the large black boot
that could have easily pulled her apart. She quickly rushed to his side.
         “Jorge, are you alright?” Juanita exclaimed, concern etched on her face. She only got a grunt in response.
“You shouldn’t have done that; I have been nothing but unpleasant to you, and you go around saving my life!”
         “I love you,” he tried to say, but it came out more as, “I wove a.”
         “What?” Juanita asked. “What did you say?”
                                                                                                                    72

         “I love you,” he finally was able to say, and with that he lay unconscious. As Juanita realized was
happening, she started putting Jorge back together. She quickly started piece by piece, mending his broken heart;
though he needed a new shell, he would be as good as new. As she worked she realized how much she loved
Jorge, and how much he loved her back. All this time that she had been fantasizing about the idea of Thomas, she
had never really loved him; she had always loved Jorge!
         As Juanita pieced Jorge back together, Rosalita and Thomas quickly rushed over. After seeing Juanita had
everything under control, Thomas seized his chance at love.
         “Hey, want to go for coffee with me?” Thomas asked boldly.
         “I don’t know…” Rosalita murmured.
         “Please, please, please?” Thomas begged.
         ‘He does seem to really want to go,’ Rosalita thought quietly. “Sure, why not?” she replied brightly, and
with that they walked to the coffee house.
         “Hey, Rosalita?”
         “Yeah?”
         “Can I talk to you about something?”
         “Oh, yeah? Go for it.”
         “Here goes nothing… I really like you. There, I said it,” Thomas said, letting out a sigh.
         Rosalita was silent as she contemplated her response. She thought of all his amazing qualities, and she
soon realized how much she liked him back.
         “Wow, ummm… I really like you too,” Rosalita replied cheerfully, and then they held hands and walked
in the sunset, both extremely happy.
         Jorge became conscious. “Where am I? Where’s Juanita? Is she okay?”
         “Jorge, I’m right here; and by the way, I love you, too,” Juanita whispered.

                                                   A Year Later
       “Jorge, I’m going to have a baby!” Juanita shouted happily.
       Jorge stared straight ahead, flabbergasted. His breath quickened, and he soon started hyperventilating.
       “Honey, you okay?”
       “Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” he replied as his breath evened.
       He quickly picked up his wife in his arms, “Sweetie, that’s great!”
       They quickly ran to Thomas and Rosalita’s house. Rosalita, Thomas, Jorge, and Juanita all exclaimed at
the same time, “We’re pregnant!” They all started hugging as they congratulated each other.

                                                   Ten Years Later
         The proud parents watched their children from afar as they mingled. ‘Oh, how they had grown’ was all
they could think. Rosalita and Thomas watched their youngest, Rosie, from across the room. Rosie was exactly
like her mother, both in looks and personality, henceforth the name. She was confident, flirtatious, and always got
what she wanted. At the moment, she was charming Juan, the beautiful nachos. Juanita and Jorge looked at their
son with pride, Juan was a snazzy boy who was smart, funny, and down-right gorgeous! He had one major flaw…
he was shy. He tried being invisible, although that was impossible; he even tried making himself unattractive by
having Jose and Johan beat him up in the village, though that did no good. He suffered from being unchangeably
hot, no matter what he did to himself. His sister, Sheryl, was a natural beauty. She was a realistic person who was
somewhat down to Earth, and she cared for the environment like no other. She was also a dreamer. She dreamed
of world peace, social harmony, and most of all, the perfect man. She stared at the new quesadilla, Darwin, with
eyes soft and loving. If only he liked her.
         Johan and Jose, Rosie’s twin brothers, watched Sheryl from the window. The boys watched in awe as she
moved about. Why were they so attracted to her? Rosie turned to see her brothers staring at Sheryl like a wolf
might stare at a plump chicken, though this was a very slim chicken. ‘Why are my brothers such duffs? Oh well, I
bet Juan wants me so badly…’
         The children were just as mixed up as their parents, with their love in a mess; but we’ll leave that story for
another time.
                                                                                                                    73

                                                   The Hunter
                                                by Brandon Fluegge

          Libon woke up with a large yawn. He wanted to stay in bed all day, but he knew that he had to hunt
enough deer to feed himself, pay taxes, and sell for some extra money that he could spend when the merchants
came with the best goods around. He was actually saving up to buy a brand new bow; the one he had was getting
a little worn out and weak. Unfortunately, the really nice ones cost 2,000 fimes, and all he had was around 200
fimes. Although the cheap ones only cost around 350 fimes, and they weren’t as beautiful or powerful as the really
high quality ones, they were good enough.
          The only way he could even possibly afford those really good bows was if he found a larnaf even though
he knew it was basically impossible. Nonetheless, the thought got him out of bed and into the main part of the
village. The larnaf was an amazing creature, a deer whose pure silver pelt could keep you warm in even the
harshest winters, and its meat was so filling and tender that it was fit for King Egoff himself. Unfortunately,
larnafs were so valuable that they were overhunted and now are extremely rare.
          Most people were by the fire pits trying to start small fires so they could cook their breakfast. Just then,
Sir Alag called for everyone to gather in the town square for a meeting. Most people sighed and did as they were
told, but a few others didn’t move. Libon couldn’t blame them; he wasn’t in the mood to move either. Sir Alag
droned on and on about how more people should do their two years of service sooner rather than later. Libon
hadn’t done his two years yet. When he got started, he could be a soldier or an official. Officials made laws and
plans, but the soldiers put them in action.
          If he decided to stay in the government, then he could possibly achieve a higher rank. Perhaps he could
even be the governor of one of the small villages. Afterwards, Sir Alag told the people that their yearly taxes were
due soon. Taxes took up three-fourths of their profits, and that left ten percent for food, five percent for spending,
and ten percent for saving towards retirement. The government distributed the taxes between its workers and the
three temples.
          The first temple was dedicated to Plano, the creator. He lived in his vast undersea palace. All the waves
were new life forms; when they crashed onto land, they were just born and became living beings. The second was
for Gizin, the keeper of all things alive. The third temple was made for the all-powerful Zeff, the god of the sky
and the dead. If one were a good person, one would go to heaven and be in perfect peace, watching over the world
through the holes in the sky called stars. Sometimes they would come back to earth in the form of sprits and help
people who were in need. The moon was Zeff’s window into this world. If you were a bad person, then you would
go to the Sun, to be consumed in flames.
          The very thought of the gods reminded him that he needed to pray to Zeff for a good hunt. He ran back
into his hut, lit the six candles, and recited a prayer that he heard a long time ago, although he didn’t remember
how he learned it. Right afterwards, Libon packed all the necessary items: a bow, hunting knife, and two weeks’
supply of food.
          As Libon walked out of his hut, he heard someone shout his name. A smile flickered onto his face as he
saw that the shout came from his best friend, Filiz. He and Libon were practically brothers. Libon’s parents had
died when he was young. Filiz’s parents took him in and trained him as a hunter. When he was old enough, Filiz’s
dad gave him a bundle containing money and said, “Go and start your career.”
          Libon had received 5,000 fimes in that sack. With it, he bought a bow for 1,000, a hunting knife for 500,
his small hut for 3,000 and the small crystal statue of Zeff for 500. The crystal figure may have seemed like a
waste of money, but it just had something about it that wasn’t like all the others. For the first few months, Libon
had trouble surviving on his own, although after that time he was able to support himself.
          “Are you okay?”
          “What…oh, yes,” Libon said. He realized that he hadn’t been paying attention, and he shook his head to
wake himself up.
          “Are you ready to go? I want to catch the pack at dawn tomorrow.”
          “Sure, why not.”
          By the time Libon and Filiz got halfway there, it was a little bit after noon. The bright sun was out and
illuminated all the small details. In front of him, Libon could see the rolling hills. They were soon followed by the
thick green forest. Finally, he could see the shining sea that stretched off into the horizon. It was a sight worthy of
a god. This was one of the main reasons that Libon decided to become a hunter.
          “You coming?”
                                                                                                                     74

        “Yep,” said Libon as he realized that he’d fallen behind.
        By the time Filiz and Libon reached the forest, the sun was setting, and they still needed to make camp.
They split up and searched for a campsite. About five minutes later, Filiz shouted that he’d found a good site.
Then they split up responsibilities. Libon set up a shelter while Filiz started a fire and cooked dinner. It didn’t take
long for Libon to make a suitable shelter. Right afterward, they settled down for dinner.
        Once they were done, they tossed their leftovers into the fire. However, instead of dying down as usual, it
flared up, and Libon felt a powerful wind blow him backwards. He shut his eyes for a second and then reopened
them. Instead of looking back into the world, he was in a burning house! The world seemed as if it was being
engulfed in flames. Someone who looked just like him ran into the room, only to be crushed by a burning support.
He screamed for a second, but his screams sounded out. Then a woman ran into the room and fell through the
floor. When Libon looked down to where the floor had collapsed, the woman was lying on the ground, dead.
Suddenly the floor collapsed under him, and he fell into darkness.
                                                  To Be Continued


                                                 A Walk in the Park
                                                 by Brooke Presten

         Rose was a beautiful white swan. She had a long, white, fluffy neck like a pillow. Her blue eyes sparkled
as if they were the light from the sun. Her orange and yellow bill was a shiny beacon of a mirror; it was long and
perfect in every way. She was a tall swan with big webbed feet and short, skinny legs that held up her skinny
white body. Rose wasn’t just a swan; she was a mother of six baby chicks: Omelet, Benedict, Poche, Yoko,
Scrambles, and Squeakers.
         These siblings stayed in their own groups. The two girls stayed together in their group of two, and the
boys would stay together in their little group of three. Then there was Squeakers. Squeakers didn’t care if he was
in the girls’ group or the boys’ group; all he wanted was to play together as siblings. Of the six chicks, Squeakers
was the runt. Rose loved Squeakers dearly because of how big his heart was. He wanted to make sure his siblings
were happy and would get along. Unfortunately, they were never happy and would never get along. They would
only get along in front of Rose, their mother.
         One evening at suppertime, Alfred, the baby chicks’ father, had just gotten home from work. He greeted
his six children and hugged them and kissed them...except for Squeakers. Alfred thought that Squeakers was weak
and hopeless. Rose always lectured Alfred about how Squeakers was his son and that he needed to treat him just
like everyone else. After supper, all of the baby chicks got tucked in by Rose and finally fell asleep after four
bedtime stories. Rose went to her bedroom and climbed in bed with Alfred.
         Squeakers was still awake because he got scared; he wanted Rose. He toddled over to his mother’s
bedroom. Then Squeakers heard his mother talking to his father, so he stopped in the doorway to listen.
Rose was practically yelling, but was doing it quietly. She started, “Honey, you can’t keep treating Squeakers like
a piece of candy that you just eat and decide it’s no good, so you throw it away. I love him and you should too. I
want you out of this house until you learn to love your son,” Rose yelled.
         Alfred muttered, “Fine. Just to warn you, I might never come back. I’ll leave tomorrow.”
         Squeakers was stunned, but he knew how much his father loved his siblings and how his siblings would
miss him dearly if he left. Squeakers forgot all about being scared and went directly back to his room. He sat on
his bed and thought about what to do to solve the problem. It finally came to him; Squeakers decided to leave so
his father wouldn’t have to. He had a plan, and he knew it would work. He got his biggest backpack and started
packing. He waited to get the food out of the fridge until his parents were asleep because the fridge made a loud
clicking sound when it opened. Squeakers was ready to go. He had his favorite blue blanket, a pillow, a flashlight,
his toy sword in case of danger, a tent, and lots of food.
         The next morning, Alfred said goodbye to his wife and his sleeping children. He noticed that there was an
empty bed. He saw everyone there except Squeakers!
         He ran back to his wife in the kitchen and said, “Squeakers! Squeakers! He’s gone! He’s not in his bed!”
         Rose’s face went paler than her white feathers. She ran to the baby chicks’ bedroom and woke up all of
the other baby chicks. She yelled, “Squeakers is gone. All of you get dressed and eat your breakfast. It’s on the
table!”
                                                                                                                  75

          All of the baby chicks were in shock. They got out of their beds and scurried over to the closet. Omelet
had an idea, so he told all of his siblings to make posters and paste them all around the park. Omelet loved his
brother more than any of the other baby chicks. The chicks ate their breakfast and started making posters. Omelet
and Yoko took the posters and hung them everywhere in the park.
          In the meantime, Squeakers was off walking around in the park with his backpack on. He knew he was
doing the right thing by leaving home. He walked proudly through the summer-green grass and past the snow-
white daisies until he spotted a colorful poster stuck to the stem of one of the daisies. It was bright and colorful,
made with neon-yellow and lavender-purple. Squeakers tried to read this sign, but because he couldn’t read yet,
he read, “SQEAKERS, COME HOME!” Squeakers was alarmed, but also confused. He didn’t know what to do;
he didn’t want to go back home; he didn’t want his father to leave. He wanted his siblings to get along and his
father to love him. Squeakers decided to not return home. He decided that once his father wanted him back, he
would come home.
          Back home, everyone was wondering why Squeakers would leave home. They didn’t know if he was
curious, stolen, or had hurt feelings. Surprisingly, the person who missed Squeakers most was Alfred. He stayed
in his chair all day, rocking back and forth, back and forth. He didn’t know why Squeakers would leave, but the
thought that haunted him the most was that perhaps Squeakers had left because of him.
          That evening Squeakers lay under the stars drinking a cup of milk. “It has been almost two days,” he told
himself. “All I want to do is go home where it is warm and welcoming with the scent of nutmeg in the air.”
          He wanted to see how the family was doing; so in the middle of the night, Squeakers left his tent and
walked back to his house. He got to the kitchen window, and he saw his father sitting at the kitchen table staring
down at one of the signs that his siblings had made. Surrounding the poster were a dozen pictures of Squeakers.
Squeakers couldn’t see what his dad was doing because he couldn’t see past the birch-bark lamp his grandma had
made. He walked around his house to his bedroom. There he saw his mother sitting on his bed with Omelet and
Poche. His other three siblings were on the floor eating peanut butter, which was Squeakers’ favorite food.
          Squeakers knew now that it was a bad idea to leave home, but he did notice that his siblings were getting
along better with each other. All of the teamwork on making the posters and getting each other through the
problem helped them get along. Squeakers felt better already, but still he didn’t know what to do, so he went to
his thinking spot in the back yard. It was a bush house made of soft pillows, wood, and carpet; Squeakers thought
of it as a mini-house. He sat in the beanbag and thought.
          In the morning, he had made up his mind. He walked back to his tent, packed up his stuff, and started to
walk home. He got to his front door, took the key out from under the mat, and opened the door. No one was there.
He walked in and saw all of his favorite things on the table: bacon, peanut butter, racecars, toy sailboats, flip
flops, five video games and a computer. He walked up stairs and saw everyone except his dad in his room packing
up his things.
          He walked up to his mom and said, “Mama!”
          She turned around, stared at Squeakers, picked him up, and said, “Oh, honey, you’re all right! I was so
worried about you! Where did you go? Why did you go? I LOVE YOU!”
          Squeakers squeaked and said, “I left because I didn’t want Daddy to leave.”
          “How did you hear that? Where did you hear that?” Rose implored.
          Squeakers looked up, and in a whisper he said, “I heard you and Daddy talking. You said he had to leave
until he learned to love me.”
          Just then, the downstairs front door slammed; footsteps came closer and closer. They could hear Alfred’s
briefcase hit the ground with a plop. Rose ran to her bedroom and got her husband. Rose stopped him in the
hallway, whispering. The six baby chicks sat there, looking puzzled.
          Rose finally came in after two hours and said, “Squeakers, come downstairs. We want to show you
something.”
          When Squeakers got downstairs, he saw before his eyes a giant cake that said, “Welcome home
Squeakers,” a plate of freshly-baked cookies, a bowl of punch, brownies, a giant bowl of all different types of
candy, and six ice-cream sundaes. Alfred stood behind it all and started to speak. “Honey, your mother has told
me what you did and why. I am sorry that I have treated you unfairly.”
          He started to walk toward Squeakers. “I know it must be very hard for you; you have a big heart, but no
one ever listens to you. You might not be perfect, but the little things that are different from everyone else make
me realize how much I truly love you. You are the only one that makes my heart beat faster and slower at the
same time; you are the horn on my car; you are the soul that makes my life complete; you are my son.”
                                                                                                                     76

        He picked Squeakers up and squeezed him in his arms, then kissed him on the forehead. “I love you
son.”
         Squeakers’ siblings came down at that moment, saw the food, and started eating. All of the sugar made
them hyper and eventually tired. Rose gave them their nightly glass of milk, and they went upstairs to climb into
their beds. As Squeakers lay in bed with the lights off, his siblings made little squeaks and murmurs around him.
He thought to himself in bed that this was the best day of his life. Squeakers had felt at home for the first time; he
felt the cloud of darkness above his head move away. His siblings were getting along fine; but more importantly,
he felt loved for the first time by his father.


                                                 The City in the Sky
                                                  by Camila Loke

         I zipped up my bag and made sure I had enough water to last me a couple of days. I had done this routine
many times; I knew how much water and food I would need.
         I was in search of the home I had been seeking since I was very little. I wandered through miles of dark,
wet forest, but I seemed never to be able to get out of it. I didn’t know exactly how long I’d been in this forest; it
was impossible to tell time.
         All I had of my real home was a copper ring with three rubies engraved in a triangle on it, which I wore
tied on a string around my neck like a necklace. Actually, I’d never been very sure if it was really something that
indicated where I was from or who I was, but I just assumed it was. I remembered being called Cassie by
someone when I was very little, but I didn’t remember whom. It seemed like such a long time ago. . .
         If you looked at me, you’d think the forest was the exact opposite of what my home should be, and it
might actually have been. With my dark, curly hair and eyes the color of the tall trees that surrounded me, I was
hard to spot as I ran through the wet gloom of the forest.
                                                            ***
         That night, I dreamed a strange dream. I was running through the forest, and something big was chasing
me. It looked like a big shadow; but when it jumped in front of me, I could see that it had sharp teeth and glowing
red eyes. As I stared, the creature lunged at me.
         “NO!” The shout sounded like it came from far away.
         I woke with a start and looked into the glowing eyes of the monster I had seen in my dream. I realized it
had been me who had shouted and that the monster was real. But just before the creature could sink its sharp teeth
into my shoulder, I rolled out of its reach, an arrow sprouted from its side, and the monster slowly dissolved,
leaving a heavy scent in the air.
         I sat up and looked around to see where the arrow had come from.
         A boy stood by a pond that I hadn’t seen before. He was tall and skinny, like he hadn’t eaten in days. He
had dark eyes and curly black hair. He looked vaguely familiar, but I didn’t remember where I’d seen him before.
         As I watched, he took a small, leather bag from his pack that lay next to him and gathered the rays of
sunlight that filtered through the canopy of trees. He closed the bag tightly and then dipped his hand into the
sparkling pond at his feet. He let the water slip through his fingers, then shook the few drops that were left on his
hand into the leather bag. As I continued to watch, he lifted the bag to his mouth and drank its few contents. A
couple of seconds passed, and nothing happened. Then he started to radiate green light. The green light grew
stronger and darker until it was so bright I could barely look at him any more.
         When the light dimmed, something shiny at his neck caught my eye. It was a copper ring with three
rubies engraved in it.
         The boy put his pack on his shoulder and looked around. When he saw me, his eyebrows rose high into
the mess of curls that veiled his forehead.
         “What was that monster?” I asked.
         “It guards this part of the forest. It’s hard to get past it without something of that sort.” He pointed to the
arrow he had used to kill the monster. “That arrow has poison in the tip. It’s the only type of poison that will kill
the monster.”
         “Oh . . . And who are you?” I asked.
         He looked at me. “Me? Luke.” He slowly turned toward the pond behind him and pulled out the leather
bag again. Then he did something that surprised me. He held out the leather bag to me.
                                                                                                                    77

         “Cassie,” he said as he offered the water to me.
         I blinked. “How do you know my name?” I asked cautiously. I didn’t know whether to take the bag from
him or not.
         He shrugged and pointed to the ring around my neck, identical to his. “Take it. It won’t hurt, and you’ll
need it.”
         “Why?” I asked.
         “What is it that you’re looking for?” Luke responded, not exactly answering my question, but giving me a
clear idea of what he meant to say.
         “Oh, all right,” I sighed. I took the bag and hesitantly drank what it contained. It tasted flowery and fresh.
At first nothing happened, but after a couple of seconds a faint, blue light started to surround me. Suddenly I felt a
surge of power go through me. It was so strong that it knocked me back against a tree.
         Then all of a sudden, a shimmering image of a girl about my age appeared in front of me.
         “To find your real home, you must ascend into the city in the sky.” Her voice was just barely above a
whisper, but I heard it clearly inside my head.
         I looked up to see Luke staring down at me, his eyes opened wide.
         “Um, thanks,” I murmured and handed him the leather bag.
         “Huh. Well . . . aren’t you going to follow her instructions?”
         “Oh, yeah! Go into the sky. Of course,” I said sarcastically.
         Luke didn’t think the girl’s strange message was a joke. “You should start there.” He pointed to a
glittering staircase half hidden in a ray of sunlight that slanted down and then rose up into the clouds.
          “Aren’t you going to come, too?” I asked.
         “No. I can’t. You were the one she spoke to. You have to go.”
         “Oh.” I turned toward the staircase and put my foot on the first step. I looked back at Luke.
         “Go.” He gestured with his hand for me to keep climbing up the steep staircase.
         When I looked back a little later, Luke was gone.
                                                           ***
         I think the staircase was magical. I didn’t get tired. I didn’t get hungry. And it was sunny, even when it
was probably supposed to be night.
         I think it took me four days to reach the top of the staircase. What was at the top was nothing like I
expected to find.
         In front of me, under a heavy blanket of fog, stood a big castle. It was white and glistening in the faint
morning sun. Around me, people talked quietly with each other. Some looked at me, not noticing my sudden
appearance.
         Everyone around me was barefoot and wore simple, white tunics like I imagined people in ancient Greece
would.
         I looked around me, remembering what the girl in my message had said, “To find your real home . . .”
Could this really be my home? The place I had looked for for so long?
         “Cassie!” I heard someone behind me call my name.
         I turned around and saw Luke standing with a small group of boys and girls. All of them, even Luke, were
dressed in the same white tunics as everybody else, except that around their waists they wore sashes made of
purple cloth. Each of them also wore a thin gold band with three rubies engraved in it around their heads. But the
strange thing was that all of them radiated either green or blue light, and each wore a ring on a string around their
neck, just like I did.
         A girl younger than I stepped up and pointed to the ring around my own neck.
         “Look,” she told the others. “The ring. She has it.”
         All of them except Luke looked really surprised and happy, as if I was the best thing that had ever
happened in their lives.
         “Um, what do you mean, I have it?” I asked, confused.
         “The ring! We’ve been looking for it so long!”
         “Um . . . what?” I still didn’t understand.
         “Tess, be quiet. You don’t know anything,” a boy older than I told the girl.
         Tess stuck out her lower lip.
         “All of us,” he gestured with his hand at the small group behind him, “are the five sons and five daughters
of a king that abandoned us on a hill far from the castle, and the only thing we had of our home were these rings.
                                                                                                                  78

There’s a new king now, and when we told him what our father had done to us, he let us live here. But see,
there were only nine of us. We’ve been looking for the fifth daughter for centuries now, and we’ve found you
now! You must have run away from us or something.”
         “You said centuries. I don’t mean to be rude, but . . . shouldn’t you be dead now?”
          “No. When you drink the water, you become immortal. So just like us, you’ll never die. You’ll stay the
same age you are now forever. It’s the same with the forest you were living in. It’s enchanted, so when you enter
it, you won’t die unless the monster kills you. Most people who enter the forest can never get out. You were lucky
we found you.”
         “Oh.”
         “Come on. Let’s get you to the palace. Everyone’ll be so excited to hear that we found you!”
                                                         ***
                                                     A week later
         Outside on the streets below the castle, there was music, and people from all around had come to
celebrate finding the tenth child, me.
         I turned away from the window of my room that looked out on the busy streets and joined my brothers
and sisters. We went to the gathering hall where I would meet the king for the first time.
         The food was good, and everyone was very nice, but the best part was when the king put a thin gold band
engraved with three rubies on my head. And when I looked around at all the smiling faces, I knew that I had
finally found what I had been looking for so long. My real home.


                                                  The Dominator
                                                 by Chris Andrada

         The year was 2032. The Russian Army was pushing the Chinese across Asia. The U.S. was forced to
help its allies by putting 500,000 troops into a hilly forest where the Russians lurked, ready to attack. A group of
USMC (Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children) was sent to take out the Russian firepower, The Dominator. It had the
power to turn soldiers into KFC!! The USMC had to retrieve the blueprint and destroy the gun…

         My name was Petey Bootkis, but my patrol called me Mighty Mouse. In total, there were seven guys in
my patrol. There was Pugsley, who looked like the kid from the Addams family, with black hair and wide eyes.
Rotgut, who the other guys said would drink anything as long as it gave him a little zip, had the reddest hair, like
fire, and a pale face, but he had a grim expression. Motormouth talked a lot. Magnet was Mexican. There was
Hunter, who used to hunt. That was why he joined the Marines. Hollywood had brownish, blond hair and blue
eyes. He looked like a superstar from Hollywood. Last but not least was Apollo, who wanted to fly to the moon.
He had jet-black hair and looked like a greaser from the 50’s.
         That night, some guy heard a Russian patrol. He shot off four rounds from his gun and threw two
grenades. In the morning, we found six dead soldiers, two blown apart by a grenade and four all shot up. Despite
this, a Russian was able to shoot our man in the leg before the grenade went off.
         We were moving out. Everyone was packing themselves full of ammo and weapons. Guns were fully
loaded. We were also very nervous because the Russians could be ready to mow us down.
         Pugsley got it. We were walking single file and a mortar came down. We all hit the dirt pronto! Pugsley
was ten seconds too late. A second mortar came down. Shrapnel went flying. Pugsley fell down. He was dead
before he hit the ground. A few guys in the other company started yelling, “Medic!”
         I found a machine gun and started firing in the direction enemy fire was coming from. Then as soon as it
started, all was silent except for me still firing round after round of the machine gun!
         Then we got up and started walking again. An hour later, we stopped and set up camp. Later I heard
from Apollo that a mortar gun was aimed right for us.
         Magnet, Apollo and I were sent on patrol the next night. It hadn’t been more than ten minutes when I saw
a gun muzzle flash and Magnet stumble. It flashed again, and he fell. With a yelp, Apollo chucked a grenade that
made a booming sound. The close-range sniper was dead. And so was Magnet.
         We got three new replacements. We lost two and got three. There was Shadow, who was the sole
survivor of another company. There was Tex who came from Timbuktu and Perez who rarely ever talked.
         “Mighty Mouse, what’s up?” said Tex excitedly. “What is a firefight like?”
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         “Aw, you know, cool and exciting.”
         When Tex figured out I wasn’t in a good mood, he tried asking Hollywood what it was like. In less than
an hour we would be in a huge firefight!
         Later….Hollywood was dead. Kaput. Kapesh. Zip. Nada. Gone. We were out on patrol; there were
about six of us. There was Tex, Hollywood, Perez, Apollo, Rotgut, and me. We were walking when Russians
started popping out of holes, firing their guns. We all ran for cover but found little. A grenade landed near Perez,
and he got to his knees and chucked it. While he was on his knees, a sniper shot him twice across the chest. He
let out a string of cuss words when he realized his desperate pleas of help were not helping. Then Hollywood
tried to retreat. By the time he got to his feet, a bullet hit him where it hurt the most. His face went white, and he
started singing opera. Seven more bullets slammed into him, and his opera singing stopped.
         We found the Dominator! It was on the waterfront, six miles from where we were camped. A group of
Navy Seals were able to infiltrate the base and find the coordinates. Over the radio, Rotgut, our squad leader,
who had heard the radio, said there was gunfire and then silence.
         “Move your butt, Mighty Mouse!” screamed Rotgut.
         We were walking up a steep hill with twenty pound sacks on our backs, filled with extra ammo and
weapons.
         “UNGG!” I groaned.
         “Come on, let’s keep moving. We have to be there before dark.” By nightfall, we could see the
Dominator.
         “All right, listen up. Tomorrow morning at 0600 we are going to attack the Dominator.”
         There was a chorus of cheers!
         I breathed quietly. Fifty yards to my right were two Russian guards. I was with Rotgut, Tex, Shadow,
and Apollo. The other guys were with another patrol, sneaking to get the blueprints. We were going to destroy
the Dominator. Just my luck I get the harder job. Anyway, I pulled out my silencer and pulled the trigger. The
first guard crumpled. I pulled the trigger again, and Guard number two died. My buddies patted me on the
back, and we got ready to charge the entrance to the Dominator. Rotgut yelled and then kicked the door off its
hinges. We all went in, firing our guns. Two Russians got picked off immediately. Rotgut picked off another
soldier, and the last Russian shot his pistol before Shadow picked him off. I heard a groaning behind me and saw
Tex. He had been shot in the neck. In a few moments, he was dead
         “We’ve got to move!” yelled Rotgut. “Set a charge and run for your life!”
         I set a charge, as did everybody else, and ran for my life…
         Mighty Mouse and his brave comrades were turned into KFC when the Dominator exploded. In the
Ripley’s Book of World Records, the Dominator is the biggest KFC maker in the world. The Marines that were
turned into KFC were said to be the largest and the best KFC ever made. The war ended two years later, and
there is a memorial for the KFC, The Yummiest Kentucky Fried Chicken in the world.


                                             The Adventures of Freddy
                                                  by Dylan Hoff

        Freddy was a flying squirrel living on the long-lost squirrel planet. The squirrels were very violent. They
just wanted to live their life, and anything that got in the way, they fought for. Freddy was part of the squirrel air
force. His job was to come in after the squirrels came in by foot and drop acorns on the enemies’ heads.
Freddy’s best friend, Bob, was a part of the ground army because he was a regular squirrel. His job was to throw
acorns at the enemy and then tie him up with string. One day, Freddy and Bob were playing cards when the
alarms went off. There had been an attack at the capital building. Freddy and Bob went to their room to put their
uniforms on and then went to the armory to get some acorns, string, a rubber band, and some tooth picks. Then
Freddy went to the hanger, and Bob went to the truck house.
        Bob got into one of the trucks and started driving. When it got there, all of the squirrels got out. Bob saw
what looked like a giant squirrel.
        “It’s a man,” said Commander Fluffy.
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         It had a white suit and a big, orange helmet. It was stomping all over the city. There was a big plane
behind him, which someone told him was a rocket ship. Then two more men stepped out of the rocket ship; now
there were three men. Bob picked up his backpack and charged toward them.
         When Freddy got there, he was scared because of their size. The plane circled around them a few times,
and then they jumped. Freddy went with everyone else from his plane to the first man and dropped an acorn on
his head, but it just bounced off. Commander Spiky clung to the man’s shoulder, and then the others followed
him. Freddy was right on his head. He took out his toothpick, slid down to his neck, and dug his toothpick in, but
he didn’t feel like it did anything. Suddenly he got flung off and hit the ground.
         Bob was on the ground helping hold down the foot while Commander Fluffy and some others tied it up.
Bob took his string and tied it to his toothpick. Then he took his rubber band and used it to fling the toothpick at
the thing. It went right into its shoulder and stuck. Bob started climbing up the string. He was slowly inching his
way up. He got to the waist. The man tried to pull the toothpick out, but Freddy, who made it back up, dug his
teeth into his hand, and the man pulled away. Freddy pulled Bob the rest of the way up. Bob and Freddy slid
down to the hands and started tying them up, but they were moving.
         “We need air support on target one,” Freddy said into his radio.
         Freddy and Bob waited for reinforcements, and when they came, they tied the right wrist as tight as they
could, but they still had half of their string left.
         “Take four men and go down to the feet. We will get the hand,” said Commander Spiky.
         Freddy took four of the squirrels and went down to the foot.
         “You three go to the right foot. Jimmy and I will go to the left,” said Freddy.
         Freddy and Jimmy landed on the left foot and held on. They took out their toothpicks and dug them in,
and then they took out their string and tied it to the leg. They threw a connecting string to the other foot, and the
three on that side caught it and tied it on. They started pulling until the feet were together. Then they tied the
excess string in a knot. They all jumped off, and Freddy called in the trip chords.
         Two cars with a string tied between them drove and tripped the first man with the string. Everybody
started tying him down. They did the same with the rest and took them away.
         They loaded everything they could into the rocket. Then the soldiers got in, and they flew back to Earth.
          When they got there, they landed at an air force base where there were a bunch of helicopters. They They
loaded all of their things into a helicopter, and they flew off. When they got to the jump site, Freddy jumped and
landed on the street where there were a bunch of trucks with trip cords between them. Freddy got into one of the
trucks, and it drove off. The car went around and tripped people. Bigger trucks behind them came and tied the
people up.
         They tripped every one, and then they went into a big, white building to see what was in it. They looked
around, and they saw someone who they thought was the mayor. They tripped him and tied him up. They moved
everyone to the jail and took over the city. To be continued.


                                             Adventures in Aquatopia!
                                                 by Emily Byrne

         Tracey is twenty, almost twenty-one. She has almost graduated from college. She is about five-feet ten,
and her hair is the color of a freshly peeled banana. Tracey has a unique eye color; it is a mixture of green, hazel,
and blue. Her skin is pretty tan because her heritage is partially Hawaiian. Unlike her friends, Tracey spends her
free time doing any sport that includes swimming or running. All Tracey wants to do is fall in love! Most of her
relationships end up with her crying her eyes out while sitting on the couch eating Ben and Jerry’s ice cream with
chocolate frosting. This summer she is determined to fall in love, and nothing will stop her!
         “Tracey, wake up! We are just about to pull into the beach house,” Tracey’s little brother, Austin,
screamed in her ear.
         “Get away from me, you little twerp,” she snapped in Austin’s face.
         Tracey climbed out of the car and was so relieved to smell salt water nearby. As she started walking
towards the house, she slipped and fell into a mud puddle.
         “ OMG! My purse is totally ruined,” Tracey yelped.
         “It’s okay, dear. I will wash your clothes and scrub your purse when we get inside. For now, just put on
your swimsuit and go hang out at the beach,” her mother said calmly.
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         Tracey was not tragically upset, so she grabbed her suitcase, pulled out her white bikini with red
flowers on it, and ran inside to pull it on. When she came out, Tracey sprinted down the path to the beach. She
had lived in Hawaii for almost her entire life, but she had never seen a beach as beautiful as this one. The air
around her was humid and hot, so she was quick to hop into the water. She came up, took a deep breath, and dove
under the next wave. Once she was far out enough, she just egg-beatered in the water until a cute guy caught her
eye. Tracey decided that the only fast way for him to notice her would be to pretend that she was drowning. She
pulled on her goggles and slowly sank in the water.
         While Tracey was under water, she saw an unusually shiny object. She swam closer to the shiny object;
therefore she went deeper into the water. When she finally got close enough to touch it, she noticed that the water
around her started to spiral. Tracey was getting sucked down into the shiny object! At last, in one quick motion
the current sucked her into-the-light, and she was no longer in the Hawaiian Ocean.
         She emerged into more water in another world. “Where am I? How do I get home? Am I safe here?” were
the questions going through her mind. She opened her mouth and realized that she could breathe in this water as if
she were above it! Tracey tasted the water and realized that it was salt water. She was certain of three things -- she
was in another world; she was in an ocean in another world, and she still hadn’t fallen in love with someone! As
Tracey started to swim in a random direction, she saw something shiny that was swimming about five hundred
yards in front of her. She decided to swim towards that object and see what was. To her surprise, it was coming at
her at an extremely fast speed! Tracey came to an abrupt stop when it was not even feet away from her.
         “Who are you, and why don’t you have a tail like most merpeople,” the merman asked. He would have
been six feet tall if he had legs. His hair was sandy blonde.
         “What? Oh, I am Tracey of Earth and I am a human, not a merperson,” she pretty much shouted. She
figured that he didn’t understand English, even though he had just spoken English to her.
         “Why are you shouting? Oh, I am Chris of Aquatopia and I am the merman Prince,” he replied slowly.
         “Sorry, I thought that you couldn’t understand English. I also didn’t know I was in the presence of a
Prince,” she whispered. Then she made a feeble attempt to bow. “So I am in Aquatopia? How do I get home?”
Tracey asked, partially sobbing, but no tears fell from her eyes.
         “Not exactly, but I will take you there, and maybe we can get you home if that is what you want…. errr,
here, hop on my back,” he said hopefully.
         “Wha-…,” Tracey had started to say the word “what” but he had pulled her up and onto to his back like a
piggy back ride and had started to swim toward a tiny sparkly dot that would some become Aquatopia.

         Tracey and Chris soon arrived at Aquatopia. Tracey was in awe; the entire city was made out of gold and
silver! The streets were paved with emeralds and rubies as if they were as common as a blotch of gum on a street.
All of the mermaids had jeweled gold brushes in their hands. The brushes looked like they had a name of some
sort on them, but Tracey could not see the whole brush. The mermaids’ hair seemed to glow; it fell all the way
past their hips near the bottom of their tail. All of their tails had rings of gold circling around them, almost like
bracelets on a human wrist. They wore jeweled earrings and necklaces. Their hair had diamonds, and they wore
seashells for tops. The mermen had strong bodies and wore no jewelry. They wore bands of gold around their
heads to signify that they were married but still strong. The Prince wore a crown but not a band of gold around his
head. The women, like humans, wore rings made of only diamonds around their “ring fingers” on their left hands.
All around Chris and Tracey, merpeople were bowing. Then all of a sudden, just as Tracey and Chris were about
to enter the royal part of the castle, a guard jumped out of nowhere and held a trident to Tracey’s neck.
         “No unknown species of merperson enters the castle. King’s orders,” he spat in her face.
         “She is with me, guard, so back down or be banished from the kingdom,” Chris shouted and got out his
sword.
         “Sorry, your highness, I didn’t know that barnacle was with you. You may pass,” he replied with disgust.
         Tracey and Chris continued on towards the King’s royal court. When they arrived, Tracey saw a tall,
strong merman sitting on a chair made of solid gold.
         “Father, I bring an unknown species I found on my travels. She needs to find her way back to her world,”
Chris said sternly.
         “Son, by travels you mean when you were running away from marriage and dishonoring your father,” the
King replied coolly.
         “Errr, yeah I guess so,” Chris mumbled.
         “Is this species the thing you want to marry?” his father asked, trying hard to suppress his smile.
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           “No, we are just acquaintances,” Chris said while his cheeks turned bright red.
           “Speak, creature. What is your name and what do you want?” the King shouted.
           “My name is Tracey, and I want to go home to my own world, back to my family,” she said partly
sobbing and shaking. Except no tears fell from her eyes once again.
           “So it is true; there are other worlds,” the King mumbled. “All right, creature. I will help you on one
condition. When we find your world, you get to go back for only three days, and then you have to return here and
marry my son,” he proclaimed.
           “But what about my family? I have to go to college, I am going to transfer to Cal soon…,” she
whimpered.
           “That is my final choice, and it will not change. My son has lost his bride, so in return, you will now be
his bride,” the King bellowed. “You will be turned into a mermaid on the day of your arrival and that is final.
Once a month you may return to the land you come from on human legs and see your family. But, that night you
shall go into the water and come back to Aquatopia. You are to never tell anyone of this place except for your
parents. You will not be able to fight the fact that you have to go into the water because if you do, I will send
storms to bring you back. Is all of this understood?” he asked loudly.
           “Yes, your majesty. It is quite clear that I will spend the rest of my life in misery and despair,” she
mumbled.
           “Good. We will have a feast tonight in your honor.” the king said cheerily. “For now, Chris will take you
around the kingdom and show you your new home.” He chuckled as he said it.
           “Come with me,” Chris said wearily.
           Tracey followed with no expression on her face. Chris looked mortified as he walked her to the royal
seamstress.
           “Chris! How lovely to see you, with…who is that, or a better question would be, what is that?” The
seamstress said.
           “This is Tracey. She was a mermaid until she swam into toxic water. My father is going to change her
back before our wedding. He has to get enough power to do it,” he said guardedly.
           “Oh! This is the lucky mermaid! Well, Chris, you did well. She is beautiful if I might say so,” the
seamstress shouted. “So, what kind of gown do you want to wear to the feast tonight, and what do you want your
wedding dress to look like?” she asked, walking towards a mirror.
           “You’re the master. I trust you,” Tracey said dully.
           “Oh, well, in that case, come over to the mirror and look into it and tell me what you see,” the seamstress
replied.
           “I see a dark blue gown, with ruffles at the bottom, and it is spaghetti strapped. It goes halfway down my
tail if I had one,” she said robotically.
           “What about your wedding gown, dear?” the seamstress asked with a worried look on her face.
           “What do you mean? Oh, now I see it. It is a ball gown, white with beading, ribbons, and a veil,” Tracey
replied, pleased with the fact that the dress was cute.
           “Okay. I will have your dinner dress ready at four o’clock. Got it?” the seamstress said.
           “Yep,” Tracey replied.
           At four, Tracey picked up the dress, put it on, and went to the feast. Everyone from the kingdom was
there. Every few seconds, somebody walked up to her and congratulated her on her engagement to the Prince.
           “Hello, friends. In four days, my son will be wed to this young lady. But tonight she will be leaving us for
three days to prepare for her wedding. When she returns, we will have the wedding the next morning,” the King
shouted.
           After the feast was over, Tracey was escorted to the King’s court. He told her to hold her breath, to
remain calm and to know that it would only last a couple of seconds. Then he zapped her into her own world.
Tracey stepped out of the ocean and walked up to her beach house.
           “Mom, Dad, I need to tell you something,” she said glumly.
           “Good, you are just in time for dinner. What do you need to tell me?” her mom asked.
           “Come to the other room,” Tracey said wearily.
           After Tracey told her mom and her dad what was going to happen in three days, they wanted to go with
her. Tracey then explained that only she was allowed to go back. Someone had to stay home and take care of her
little brother, Austin. After she said that, she told them that she would be able to visit them once a month and that
it would be as if she’d gone to college. During the next three days, she spent as much time with her family as
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possible. They decided not to tell Austin until he was old enough to understand, so they told him that she was
going to college early. On the third night, she walked into the ocean, disappeared and once again arrived into the
other world of Aquatopia.
         When she arrived, something weird was going on. No guards were waiting for her return. When she
started to swim, something reached out and grabbed her. It was a green scaly alligator-looking thing, but she
didn’t get the best look because soon after the thing grabbed her, it knocked her out. When Tracey woke up, she
was in a cave locked in a cell with the guards. For the past two months, Tracey was imprisoned in the cell, being
fed only ground-up seaweed. One day, when the weird creatures went out to find food, the Prince and his army
came and rescued her.
         “How far are we away from Aquatopia?” Tracey asked.
         “About three weeks away,” he replied.
         “Why did you come and save me? I mean you barely even know me,” she asked.
         “I will give you my answer at the end of the three weeks,” he said sternly.
         For the rest of the journey, Tracey got to know Chris better, and Chris got to know Tracey better. They
both started to fall in love. At the end of the three weeks, Chris gave her his answer.
         “At first, I just saved you because it was my obligation and you were my bride-to-be. But now that I have
thought about it, I saved you because even though I didn’t really know you, I have been in love with you since the
first day we met,” he said shyly.
         “I didn’t know that I loved you until the end of these three weeks, but now that I think about it, I have
always and will always love you,” she replied with her eyes fixed on his.
         “Ready to get married?” he asked.
         “Yes,” she said without any hesitation.
         The next day, Tracey reported to the king’s court, prepared to be changed into a mermaid. She walked
straight to the King and said, “I am ready to be turned into a mermaid.”
         “All right, then afterwards we will have us a wedding. On three - one, two, three,” he shouted as he
zapped her with his trident.
         Tracey was now a mermaid, but still looked the same except for the fact that instead of legs, she had a
gold tail; and she had the same length of her hair as the other mermaids, and it was glowing! She put on her dress
and swam to the church. The music played as she swam up the aisle. Then she said her vows and had a ring put on
her finger as she put one on Chris’s finger. They were now merman and merwife. And they lived happily ever
after.



                                                Stuck in Lykoria
                                                by Emily Friese

        The loud sound startled Caitlyn. She screamed but then realized it was the phone. She answered it.
        “Hello…Yeah, she’s here…No, she’s not busy…Yeah, she can talk…Okay…Here she is…Hang on,”
Caitlyn held the phone against her chest. “Mom! Your boss is on the phone!”
        Caitlyn’s mother, Alyssa, ran out. “Hello? How are you…Good…Oh, yes…Really?” Alyssa looked
happy. “When? Now…It’s a bit sudden…Well, no, it’s great…Thanks so much…Bye.”
        “Mom, you have that ‘I’ve got ‘good news and bad news’ look on your face.” Caitlyn commented.
        “Well, I do have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” Alyssa said. Caitlyn exhaled.
        “Good news is always better,” the girl said.
        Alyssa looked nervous. She took a deep breath.
        “The good news is, well, I got my promotion. Bad news is, um, we have to move. Soon.”
        “Cool!”
        Alyssa looked puzzled. Why was Caitlyn so happy? She was about to move away from her friends, and
she was happy?
        “Why aren’t you sad?” Alyssa asked.
        “Why would I be sad, Mom? You just got what you wanted. You worked hard. Why would I be sad for
you?” Alyssa hated it when Caitlyn made a good point.
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         “So, do you want to move? It’s your choice. The job’s in Miami, Florida. It’s going to be very warm
there. And you’ll get to meet new friends. But you have to choose.”
         Caitlyn nodded. “It sounds like fun. I guess Miami will be cool, but what about here? Can we come here,
like, during summer, for a summer trip.”
         Alyssa nodded. “We could move in six weeks; it’ll be great!”
         “Yeah, I better get started!” Caitlyn pivoted and went to work. As she walked back to her room, she
pictured her new school and her new friends. She was standing in front of the house she was imagining. Caitlyn
skipped her way into her room to start the long journey of emptying her closet.
         Six weeks later, boxes filled with stuff lay everywhere. Bags were piled high in the trunk of Alyssa’s light
blue Cadillac.
         “Is that everything?” Caitlyn asked, sleepily. It was five o’clock in the morning, to Caitlyn’s dismay.
They had to get on the road early to avoid traffic.
         “That’s everything!” Alyssa responded. “It’s five in the morning. You can get your rest in the car. It’s
going to be a long ride.”
         So, with that, Caitlyn piled in the car and reclined her chair, which didn’t really work because of the bags
in the back. But Caitlyn was so tired she fell asleep anyway.
         Caitlyn opened her eyes, looked around, and screamed inaudibly. Where am I? Did I sleepwalk? I
couldn’t have, I fell asleep in the car. Have we already arrived in Miami, and Mom somehow carried me to my
room? No. This doesn’t look like it’s mine! Caitlyn held up a lilac silk robe she retrieved from an ebony dresser.
“Where am I?” Caitlyn said aloud.
         Caitlyn, a curious girl, had to go look around. She had to figure out where she was. She stepped outside
her room, walked down a hallway, and walked downstairs to a balcony. She looked over the edge and saw a lady
who looked like she was in her twenties.
         “Ah, Miss Caitlyn, you are finally up. Would you care for breakfast? We have your favorite, hot cocoa.”
         “Uh, y-y-yes. Hot chocolate is fine, thanks.” The maid poured hot chocolate into a cup. “Your drink, Miss
Caitlyn. I shall be right back.”
         She walked into a room, which Caitlyn assumed to be a kitchen. A lady, much older than the maid,
walked out. It was Alyssa, dressed in beautiful clothing. She was wearing a lovely white dress with sparkles and
matching sequined shoes.
         “Honey! You’re awake. Good. Ms. Clark will be here soon to tutor you on The Study of Unicorns. Not
your strongest subject, is it?” Caitlyn nodded, acting like she knew what her mother was talking about. “Now go
on and get dressed. Ms. Clark will be here in about twenty minutes.”
         Caitlyn walked away, hoping to find the correct way back to her room. She ventured her way there and
looked in the closet. There were more dresses than a pomegranate has seeds. Caitlyn couldn’t keep her eyes on
one dress for more than a second, because she would catch a glimpse of another beautiful dress and she would
shift her body toward that one. Soon she felt dizzy.
         “Need help?” the maid asked.
         “I do need help…”
         “My name is Marie.”
         “I knew that. Sorry. It’s just that my mind is so many places now, I can’t even remember where I am!”
         “I know why. It’s pretty pressuring when you’re ‘Becoming of Age’ party is coming up tonight.” Marie
looked at Caitlyn’s confused face. “What’s wrong?”
         Caitlyn took a deep breath. “I don’t know how you’re going to take this, but…”
         “But…” Marie asked.
         Caitlyn bit her lip. “I don’t know where I am. I’m from another world. I’m not a princess. I don’t know
what happened. I fell asleep and woke up here. Pl-ea-se help me.” Caitlyn said ‘please’ in three syllables.
         “I-uh-well, now you’re in Lykoria, where you are a princess. Your mother is Queen Alyssa and your
father is King Ed—“
         “I don’t have a father! He died in an accident when I was four. He is not named Edward.”
         “Here, in Lykoria, your real father isn’t uh- real.”
         Suddenly there was a knock on the door. “Knock, knock!” Alyssa sang. “Can I come in?”
         “I’m not supposed to be in here. I need to hide.” Marie looked worried.
         “Bathroom, no. Closet, not a good spot.” Then a light bulb flashed on in both Marie and Caitlyn’s head.
“Under the bed!” they said in harmony. Marie shot under the bed.
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         “Come in, Mother!” Caitlyn called. Queen Alyssa opened the door.
         “What took you so long?” the queen inquired. Caitlyn shrugged. Queen Alyssa raised her eyebrows.
“Well, your tutor is sick, but your father has some work for you to do. Go down to the main hall in five minutes.”
         “Phew!” Marie said from under the bed.
         “I don’t want to get on Dad’s bad side, so I’d better get down there.” Caitlyn ran out the room. She
backed up, “Where’s the main hall?”
         “Go left, down the stairs, walk down the hall, and turn left. You’ll be in the dining room. Go through the
door on your right and there will be big, maroon doors. Then enter those and viola.”
         Caitlyn turned left as she got out of her room, and ran down the hall, and zipped down a long flight of
stairs. She jogged down the hall and passed through a dining room. She saw the maroon doors Marie was talking
about. They were huge! Caitlyn walked into the elaborate room.
         “Whoa!” Caitlyn said. She almost crashed into a gigantic man. She stared straight up at him as her
towered over her. It was her father, King Edward.
         “Why are you late? You are never late,” the giant said, “Just because Ms. Clark is not here, that is no
excuse for blowing off tutoring!”
         “S-s-sorry.” Caitlyn apologetic voice was no match for her father’s deep voice.
         “You may not understand how different things are in Lykoria. We have stricter rules here than in your
puny little world,” Edward’s voice boomed. He crouched over toward Caitlyn’s ear. “I know your secret,” he
whispered. The young girl widened her blue eyes. “Yes, I knew you where hiding something from the minute I
heard you talking to your mother. It’s like you were playing stupid! And if the government officials found out that
you were an imposter! Oh, you would be banished from this kingdom. Now do what I tell you, and that little
detail won’t accidentally leak. Now, leave!” King Edward pointed his enormous hands to the doors.
         This is just a dream. I bet I’ll be home when I wake up tomorrow, Caitlyn thought. She rolled her eyes.
She trotted through the doors while Edward smiled grimly.
         Taking all the correct turns, Caitlyn made it back to her room alive.
         “You’re back early,” Marie commented.
         “Yeah, Ms. Clark is sick or something. Did you know my dad is evil?” Marie looked confused.
         “Your father is a nice man, though his size is, uh, abnormal.”
         “Yeah, well. Not so nice to me. He knows I’m not from here. He says that I’m an imposter and that if the
government officials found out, I’d be banished.”
         “Interesting,” Marie said calmly. Caitlyn made an angry face. “Sorry. I just can’t imagine your father the
way you’re describing him. Well, I don’t know him well enough to say much. I don’t know.”
         “This sucks. First, my stupid, so-called father hates my guts. Second, I have to go to a ‘Becoming of Age’
ball tonight with millions of people I don’t know. And third, I’m stuck in Lykoria!” Caitlyn groaned and flopped
on her soft, white bed.
         “Well, there is one upside to the ball. Let’s pick out the dress.” Caitlyn smiled for the first time in a while.
         Marie and Caitlyn stepped into the large closet. Marie held up dresses to Caitlyn, but they were all
rejected.
         “Haven’t we gone through all the dresses?” Marie asked. Caitlyn shook her head and pointed to a
dazzling dress hanging in the corner.
         “It looks like we saved the best for last,” Caitlyn said after she stepped over the pile of unwanted dresses
and held it up to her chest. The short, sparkling blue dress waved in the air as the young princess skipped to the
bathroom to try on the dress. It fit perfectly.
         “It’s time!” sang Alyssa.
         “Goodie!” Caitlyn said sarcastically. She walked down the hall in her fabulous dress. She took a deep
breath and walked through the doors to the ballroom.
         There were chandeliers, butlers, an orchestra, and tables and tables of food.
         “Hello, Caitlyn,” said a lady.
         “Greetings, Miss Caitlyn. Of course you remember who I am.”
         Caitlyn said, ‘Yes,’ but truly she meant, ‘No.’
         Hundreds of people said hello to her. It was too much to handle. She headed for the door.
         “Going somewhere, Princess?” a voice said. Caitlyn squeezed her eyes shut. She pivoted around.
         “N-no.” She looked up. King Edward.
         “Good. That’s what I thought,” he boomed. Caitlyn just got a sudden headache.
                                                                                                                 86

         She endured three more hours of ‘Hello’ and ‘Happy Becoming of Age’ greetings. There was also an ‘I
remember when you were two and…’
         “Psst!” Marie whispered. “You only have thirty minutes. And in five, they are going to cut and serve the
Crème la Sorbet. Then they will pour you a small glass of champagne.”
         “Ew! Wine’s disgusting.” Marie gave her a look, “Fine, I’ll drink it.” Caitlyn scurried away in time for
the Crème la Sorbet, which was actually tasty. She also endured a disastrous glass of champagne.
         “Thank you for coming,” Caitlyn said into a microphone as people left. She was forced up there. Is
everyone gone? Please make everyone leave…soon, Caitlyn thought.
         Once everyone left, Caitlyn slipped out unsighted and sprinted to her room. She grabbed a notepad and a
mechanical pencil and wrote a note. The lead broke.
         “Darn!” Caitlyn said angrily while clicking the back to get more.
         “What are you doing?” Marie asked.
         “I’m writing about you. I don’t want to forget,” Caitlyn said. “I need to go home.”
         “Why?” Marie asked.
         “I want to be with my mom and my bunny. I’m sorry. I was thinking about it during the ball. I was
thinking about a portal. There was one place in particular: the closet.” Caitlyn jogged to the closet without giving
it a second thought.
         “I’ll miss you. I want you to go so you can be happy, but I’m scared. What if you…die?” Marie said with
precaution.
         “I’ll be all right. And I don’t even know if there is a portal. That is why we’re checking.”
         “I knew that,” Marie said.
         They slowly opened the closet door. Caitlyn exhaled. There was no portal; just clothes. Caitlyn told Marie
that she was too tired to look elsewhere. They said goodnight and went to sleep.
         When Caitlyn awoke in the morning, she wasn’t home, to her disappointment. She got out of bed but
tripped. Caitlyn grabbed onto a book on the shelf, hoping it would hold her up. The book tilted but stuck. The
bookcase slid to the left.
         “Whoa!” Caitlyn yelled, putting her hand over her mouth.
         “What happened?” Marie exclaimed, “Oh…my…gosh.”
         “I think we found the portal!” Caitlyn said. It was blue and smaller than Caitlyn imagined. Caitlyn stared
at Marie, the portal, then Marie again.
         “I want to go, but I’ll miss you.” Caitlyn took a deep breath and gave Marie a long hug. “Bye,” she
muttered. Those were the last words Marie heard Caitlyn say.
         Now, Caitlyn was gone. Marie breathed deeply. She missed her. Teardrops ran down her cheeks. She
cried so much, it left tracks on her face.
         I wish I could see her again. I have so many questions, so many answers I don’t know, Marie thought. She
snatched the pad of paper Caitlyn had used and the mechanical pencil. She scribbled a note. It read:
         Dear Caitlyn,
         I miss you. I’ve never met anyone like you. You’re my best friend. You are the only one I can trust. I
wish I could see you. I know I will never see you again. I hope you got out okay. I love you. Don’t forget me.
         Love,Marie
         “I miss you,” Marie whispered. She shook her head. Her brown eyes blinked slowly. Marie ripped out the
note and threw it on the ground. She blinked once more, and the note was gone.
         “Welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order, please?”
         Caitlyn’s eyes flashed open. She gasped. She was in her mother’s car. She wasn’t a princess, and her
mom wasn’t a queen.
         “A coffee is good, thank you,” Alyssa said.
         “Your total is $2.59. Please go to the next window.”
         Alyssa advanced to the window, paid, and got on the highway.
         “Mom?” Caitlyn struggled.
         “Yeah, are you awake?” Alyssa asked.
         Pfft. Duh! What a stupid question! Caitlyn thought. “Yeah, I just got up.” The thirteen-year-old girl stuck
her hand down in the bag she filled with her important “valuables” like her phone, iPod, and DVD player. She
reached for her iPod, which was conveniently placed at the bottom of the bag.
                                                                                                                   87

        “Ugh,” she said. She maneuvered her hand around, and then grasped something. Hmm… She thought.
Caitlyn pulled it up and saw it was just a crumpled piece of paper. She glanced at it and was about to throw it
away, but then she saw five words: Don’t forget me. Love, Marie.



                                              Our Amazing Adventure
                                               by Evelyn McManus

         James Harrison slammed the door to our tiny cage.
         “Now you stay in here…or else!” he shouted. Then he turned out the lights and walked out the front door.
I expected that he was going out to eat, just like he had done the last three nights we’d been stuck in his house in a
very small cage. He hadn’t even given us our dinner. Our bowls were all there, but none of them were full. Spot’s,
Speedo’s, and my shared water bowl, my food bowl, Speedo and Spot’s food bowl, Licorice’s food bowl and
water bottle that hung from the side of the cage, her hay feeder, and Shirley’s food and water bowls were all
crammed into one tiny cage. Not to mention us animals stuck in there, too. But the worst part was that he had left
the food right outside the cage, just for us to look at!
         Homesick, I thought of Abbie Price. She was four years old, but she had always been my friend. Even
though I had lived in a pet store all of my life, the family who owned it, the Prices, had always treated me kindly.
I wondered where they had gone and that they had left a bunch of the other pet store animals and me here. I had
no idea where the rest of the animals who had lived with us in the pet store had gone.
         “Speedo,” I asked the big golden retriever. “Where did the Prices go?” He was the smartest one of all of
us animals, so I knew he could answer my question.
         “They moved and sold the pet store,” he replied.
         “Why?”
         “I don’t know,” he said sadly. I could tell that he missed them, too.
         Licorice, the small brown-and-black guinea pig, asked to no one in particular, “Where did they move to?”
         “Pennsylvania,” Speedo answered.
         “How do you know?” Spot asked jealously. Spot had gotten his name because he had a small brown spot
on one of his ears. The small white dog was smaller than Speedo in size, but he always tried to beat him at
everything.
         “Because I listened to the Prices all the time when I was in a cage at the pet store,” Speedo said.
         Shirley, the brightly colored parrot, said, “At least that cage was bigger, and we had enough food and
water.”
         “Yeah, I’m starving,” Spot whined.
         “You’re just using this as a chance to complain!” I told him.
         “Am not!”
         “Are too!”
         “Am not!”
         “Are too!”
         “Am not!”
         “Are…”
         “You guys!” interrupted Speedo, “Stop it!”
         Breaking the silence that followed, Licorice asked hopefully, “Don’t you think that we could go to, you
know, find the Prices?”
         “You,” Spot sneered, “find the Prices? You can barely even cross the yard!” Licorice turned red.
         “Licorice does have a point,” Speedo said thoughtfully, “We could find the Prices. I mean, we don’t
really have to find them because we know that they went to Pennsylvania, right?”
         “Yeah,” Licorice replied.
         “The only question is…” Speedo paused, “How?”
         “Well, how did the Prices get there?” I asked.
         “By airplane, I think,” Speedo told us.
         Shirley asked, “What is an airplane?”
                                                                                                                     88

          “Stupid,” Spot remarked, “you don’t even know what an airplane is?” The truth was he didn’t know
either. Of course, he would never admit that in front of Speedo.
          “An airplane,” Speedo said, “is like a giant bird that people sit in, and then it moves and goes up in the air
and flies from place to place.”
          “Couldn’t we sit in it, too?” For the first time that day, Spot said something positive.
          “Well…” Speedo hesitated for a second. “I don’t see why not!”
          “Yeah!” we all cheered, even Spot.
          Shirley asked, “Where can we go to find an airplane?”
          “An airport, of course,” Speedo replied. “All we need is a map.”
          “I’ll find one,” I offered, proud of my ability to jump into things.
          “Thanks, Tail,” replied Speedo. He expertly opened our little ‘jail’ with his paw. “Be careful. Remember,
we have no idea when James Harrison might return.”
          A few minutes later, I was back, pushing a map I had found on James Harrison’s desk with my paw. I had
to push it around the old books, dirty dishes, and some old children’s toys, but finally I made it back to the cage.
Speedo closed the door behind me.
          “Guys,” I asked while we were unfolding the map, “why do you think James Harrison has children’s
toys? I can’t imagine that he would have kids.”
          “Don’t ask. I have no idea,” replied Licorice.
          “He’s probably just a pack-rat,” Shirley said. We all laughed.
          We all had to squeeze into the corners of the cage in order to spread out the map because it was quite
large. Speedo pointed out where we were and then where San Francisco Airport was.
          “Just our luck,” he said. “We are very close to the airport, maybe about five or six miles.” We all cheered,
but then Spot pointed out something that we all had to consider. How were we going to bring Licorice along? She
was quite small and couldn’t move very fast.
          “How about the little kid, play shopping cart that I saw when I went to get a map,” I suggested.
          “Brilliant!” Speedo answered. Licorice didn’t object. We climbed out of the cage and ate some food right
out of the bag and then loaded Licorice, some of all of our food, and some water into the small, yellow, child’s
pushcart. We also put in the map. Finally, we set off into the evening.
          It was very dark outside as we followed Speedo down the sidewalk. The pushcart was attached to his
body with a string, and he was pulling it behind him. Licorice did not look very happy riding in the back of the
cart. The rest of us, however, were quite content and relieved to be going away from James Harrison and back to
the Prices.
          About five hours later, it started to get light.
          “Speedo, are we allowed to use our human powers, in case we see a person?” asked Licorice. A couple of
years before, a strange man had walked into the pet store. He had gone around and discreetly dropped little pellets
into all of the cages. Of course, all of us ate a pellet or two. Later we figured out that by simply wishing, we
could look like a human for ten minutes. Speedo could transform for fifteen minutes because he had gotten a few
more pills than the rest of us. When the minutes were up, we turned back into our regular form. However, we
could only turn into a person three times in day. This is also why we were so smart, and had the ability to speak
English.
          Speedo replied, “If absolutely necessary, yes.”
          Just then, a woman pulled up in a car right next to where we were walking. She started to get out.
          “Quick! Change into your human forms!” Speedo whisper-yelled. We all changed into our human forms
and Licorice jumped out of the cart. I picked it up and pretended to be carrying it. Luckily, the woman didn’t
notice anything and walked into a shop. After ten or fifteen minutes, we were our regular selves again.
          We walked for a little bit more and finally spotted many lights in the distance. We had made it. I was
tired, tired of hearing the cart rattle along the sidewalk and tired of walking. I was also starting to get hungry.
          “Look,” Speedo said, “I think we made it. Okay, why don’t we go into that alley and plan how we are
going to get in.”
          After debating for a while in the stinky, dumpster-filled alley, we agreed on how we would get on a flight.
Speedo would change into a human and go inside the airport to find the right flight, time, and gate. The rest of us
would wait in the alley. Then Speedo would bring us the information. Then, about forty-five minutes before the
flight took off we would all sneak along the runway as animals and into the plane’s baggage compartment.
                                                            ***
                                                                                                                 89


         We snuck along the side of the airport building, praying that nobody would see us. Licorice could no
longer ride in the cart, which we had ditched in the alley, because it made too much noise, so she had to walk
herself.
         “Okay,” Speedo said, “Here’s our plane.”
         I looked up and saw the big, gray plane looming above me. It said, “UNITED AIRLINES” in big letters.
         All of the sudden, Speedo said, “NOW!” Caught off guard, I followed the other animals up a big black
ramp and into a long, narrow room. We made our way to the far end and waited there. All of the sudden a person
entered.
         “Now look what you’ve done,” Spot accused Speedo.
         “Shhhh!” I hissed. Then, to our horror, the man turned his head and looked straight at us.
         “Fred! There’s something in here,” he yelled to somebody below.
         Another voice called back, “What do ya’ mean? I just took all of the bags out from the last flight! Now
get ready. I’m sending the first load of bags up.”
         The first man squinted and answered, “Okay.”
         We lay in the back of the luggage compartment pretending we were bags. When the workers finally
closed the door, we all breathed a sigh of relief, and started talking.
         “I’m squished,” Spot whined.
         “Live with it. This is how it’ll be for the next five hours,” Licorice replied. Unlike the rest of us, she
wasn’t squished at all because she was so small. There were towers of suitcases around us, almost isolating us in
our own little “room.” It was a miracle that the workers hadn’t noticed us.
         All of a sudden, there was a terrible, rumbling noise.
         “Help,” I squealed. We felt the plane start to move, and then we went faster than anything I had ever
experienced in my life. We lifted off the ground and into the sky.
                                                            ***

Six hours later, the plane landed. It had not been the most pleasant flight, although we all got some sleep. All of
the food and water that we had brought was gone, so we all had full stomachs. However, I worried that that
wouldn’t last for long and that we would have to find the Prices soon because otherwise, we’d go hungry. We
waited for about half and hour, and finally we saw that the luggage was being unloaded.
         “How do we get out?” Shirley asked. Just then a worker’s face appeared over the stack of bags.
         “Run!” Speedo shouted. We sprinted out, following Speedo past the worker, down the conveyer belt,
moving with the bags on it, and onto the runway. Licorice was so small that she was unnoticed, but the rest of us
were chased and shouted at. Speedo ran towards a fence next to the runway, sprinted toward it, and jumped. He
made it over, and so did I. Licorice slipped through the boards. However, Spot had a hard time. He finally made it
over, just as a man approached.
         “Dog, Dog!” The man was screaming at the top of his lungs. “Dogs in the airport! And a cat, too!”
         We all ran as far from the airport as possible, but workers were still chasing us. As we jumped around a
sharp corner, Speedo whispered, “Human forms, now!” We all immediately changed into people, and when the
workers flew around the corner seconds later, out of breath, they didn’t know where we had gone.
         “Ma’am,” they asked Shirley, “Have you seen a couple of dogs around here?”
         “Nope, sorry,” she replied, smiling to herself.
         We walked along the city streets, and I realized that it was very similar to San Francisco. However, there
were many more humans. It was starting to get dark, so we decided to rest for the night.
         “Here’s a good spot,” I pointed to a small alleyway, much like the one where we had waited for Speedo in
San Francisco. Nobody objected.
                                                          ***

        Three days later, we were still wandering around the streets of Philadelphia, looking for the Prices. We
had basically lost all hope of finding them and were very hungry. Spot had found a ten-dollar bill on the ground,
changed into a human, gone into a store, and bought a case of dog food. Luckily, he had shared it. However, that
was about all we’d eaten in the last few days.
        It was broad daylight when we walked into a park.
        “Look, Mommy,” said a little boy to his mother. “ Doggies and a kitty!”
                                                                                                                90

         The mother replied, “Oh, no, we’d better call animal control. We can’t have stray animals running
around the playground.”
         “No!” Speedo whispered to us.
         “They’re going to call animal control on us,” I whispered back.
         “Well, don’t just stand there!” Spot said. “Hurry and turn into a human!” We all followed Spot’s orders,
and the mother of the little boy called animal control. They arrived about five minutes later, but didn’t find us.
Then, out of nowhere, Licorice gave us the news we had been hoping for since we arrived in Philadelphia.
         “I see Abbie,” she said softly.
         “Where?” We all asked at once. “Where is she?”
         “See,” Licorice pointed to a girl on the slide.
         “She’s right!” Shirley said.
         We were all so happy, pointing at her, that we didn’t notice Abbie’s mom staring at us.
         “You stop pointing at my little girl!” she said.
Of course, she didn’t know that we were her pet store animals in our human forms. But we had to watch Abbie,
because then when we changed back into animals we could find her and her family. So we kept our eyes on her,
all five of us. And Mrs. Price kept her eyes on us.
         This went on for awhile, until finally Mrs. Price said, “I’m calling the police!”
         “No please don…”
         “Shush. Into the trees! It’s been nine minutes!” I whispered franticly. I had been counting because I did
not want all of the people at the playground to find out about our special power. We all ran into the trees while
Mrs. Price took out her cell phone. Spot, Licorice, Shirley, and I all changed back into our animal forms, but
Speedo was still a human. Suddenly Abbie burst out crying. She had fallen off of the slide. Mrs. Price had to drop
her cell phone on the bench, without calling 911.
         “Mrs. Price didn’t call the police on us!”
         “Yes!”
         “Speedo, hurry!”
         We were all talking at once. After the five minutes that seemed like years were up, we all rushed out to
surprise Abbie. She wasn’t in sight, and neither was her mom!
         “Look, there she is!”
         Abbie and her mother were walking down the sidewalk together. We sprinted, even Licorice, as fast as we
could. When we caught up, Abbie noticed us immediately.
         “Look, Mommy, it’s the animals. It’s Tail, and Speedo, and some of the others!” I was pleased that she
remembered my name.
         Her mother gasped and exclaimed, “It really is! Oh, how on earth did you get here?” And so we told her
this story.


                                                 Saving Candy Land
                                                 by Hayley Reardon

         Could there possibly be a place in this world that is always happy, fun, and sweet? Not in our solar
system, but if you go a little past you will find the greatest planet in the galaxy…CANDY LAND!
         “Lilly, wake up! Wake up!” shouted Livi, the Lollypop, as she began to jump on her twin sister’s bed.
         “All right, all right. I’m up. Are you happy now?” Lilly yawned as she shook her head at Livi’s high
energy that never stopped.
         “Why, of course,” remarked Livi with an evil pop to her voice.
         The twin sisters rolled out of their marshmallow bed and put on cute wrappers for school. The girls were
so different. Lilly was the leader; she was always planning things out and was a huge perfectionist. Livi, on the
other hand, was the complete opposite. She was crazy and fun but had no idea what was going on around her.
Even though the girls drove each other insane, they loved one another.
         “Come on, girls. The Twinkie is going to be here soon, and I don’t want to have to drive you to
school…again,” shouted the twins’ mom.
         The girls rolled their eyes at each other and shouted, “Coming!”
                                                                                                                      91

          They ran down the stairs and hopped on the Twinkie. They didn’t have very many friends besides each
other, so they simply sat alone. It never really bothered them, but they always wanted to have a few extra friends.
          “Ring,” the loud school bell chimed through Candy High.
          The two girls headed to their first class, but on their way, they spotted the Hot Tamale twins giving their
girlfriends, Missy and Kissy, flowers.
          “Oh great,” Lilly exclaimed with an exaggerated sigh.
          “What do they have that we don’t?” questioned Livi.
          “The Hot Tamale twins,” exclaimed Lilly.
          “Well, at least we have each other,” said Livi, trying to make Lilly feel better.
          “Oh yeah, that’s a real charmer,” replied Lilly.
          “Ring, Ring, Ring,” rang the second bell.
          “Oh gobstoppers! That’s the second bell,” panicked Lilly.
          “Run!” they both shouted in unison.
          The two of them started to run to their classroom. Sweat was dripping down both of their faces as they
were sprinting up the stairs.
          “There is no way we are going to make it in time to class,” admitted Livi.
          “Come on, we can’t give up hope,” said Lilly.
          The girls ran up the stairs, and about two minutes later they were right in front of their classroom door,
and the clock read 8:33. The girls then walked away with their heads held in shame because if you were more than
two minutes late, you couldn’t go in. The girls walked away in shame, thinking of how they were going to tell
their mom about the horrible day.
          About five minutes later, the girls arrived at their favorite tree. They both just sat in silence because there
was no rush to get home. The only thing that was waiting for them was a lecture from their mom. Livi climbed up
into the secret tree house and began to look at some of her stuff. Then all of a sudden, the sky changed color to a
bright orange!
          Then it happened…the moment that would soon change everybody’s life forever. All of a sudden, a huge
space ship landed on Candy Land, so the girls darted into the tree house and hid under a blanket. They just sat
there in silence, too shocked for words; thoughts of worry began to run through both of their heads. Screams and
screeches began to come from outside of the tree house. They heard a little girl crying as she was taken away into
the spaceship.
          “Get in!”shouted a voice.
          “Please, leave my town alone,” pleaded the mayor.
          “No,” screeched the same voice as before.
          Then a malicious voice announced, ”I am the evil carrot! I plan to take your planet and turn you all into
little candy slaves! Ha! Ha! Ha!” he laughed evilly.
          The sounds of the spaceship roared through the town, and then it was silent. The girls quietly crept out of
their hideout. All they saw was an empty town.
          “Lilly, this is not good,” announced Livi.
          “Not good? This is terrible!” replied Lilly in panic.
          “Ok, I will admit this is horrible,” agreed Livi.
          “You think?” said Lilly as she shook her head.
          “Wait! I think I have an idea,” announced Livi, with a warm smile on her face because it was not usually
she who had the good idea. Lilly was always the smart logical one.
          “All right, what do you have?” asked Lilly, who had a lot of doubts about plan.
          “Well, I think if we took a car and turned it into the first-ever candy spaceship, we could fly it up to
Veggie World and save the day! We would be heroes! Heroes!” she exclaimed with excitement.
          “Surprisingly, that actually sounds like a good idea,” agreed Lilly.
          “Why, thank you,” said Livi, very proud of her idea.
          “Ok, then, let’s go,” encouraged Lilly.
          The two girls got straight to work. They ran over to Wapanarski Car Shop, grabbed the best looking car,
and drove it over to the park. The Candy Park was one of the most beautiful places in the town. It had a ground
tiled with gold and brightly colored trees that always stood tall and proud. There was no debate when Lilly
suggested where to go.
          “All right, what do we do now?” asked Lilly.
                                                                                                                    92

         “Well, I am going to need you to get me some tools,” ordered Livi.
         “Whatever you say,” exclaimed Lilly.
         The girls worked for hours with sweat dripping down both of their tired faces. They knew they had to
keep working to save their town. Soon the sun began to set.
         “I’m hungry,” moaned Livi.
         “How about we go home for the night and have some dinner?” suggested Lilly.
         “That sounds good,” agreed Livi, happy that she didn’t want to keep working.
         Both of the girls went to sleep that night thinking of all the crazy adventures of the day. Unlike Livi, Lilly
was planning ahead. Livi was just daydreaming like she didn’t have a care in the world.
         In the morning Livi woke up to Lilly staring over her head, so she screeched, “Oh my gobstoppers!”
         “Come on! There is no time to sleep; we have to save our parents and the rest of the planet for that
matter,” exclaimed Lilly in a very determined way.
         “I bet you even made a schedule,” laughed Livi.
         “Actually, I did. First, we will eat some breakfast here, and then we will go outside and finish our
spaceship before 1:00 pm. By that time, we will be hungry for lunch, so we will eat for about an hour. After that
time, we come home and pack a practical bag for our trip. Then finally, we will be ready for take off,” announced
Lilly.
         “But we don’t even know how to get to Veggie World,” exclaimed Livi.
         “While you were asleep, I took the liberty to find a map to Veggie World,” said Lilly very proudly.
         “Of course you did,” exclaimed Livi.
         So the girls followed the schedule exactly. It tool them hours down at the park to finish the ship, but they
finally did it. Neither of them thought that they could do it, but they did. Livi was so proud of her
accomplishment. She had never done anything very special, so this made her feel really good.
         “Lunch time!” screamed Livi.
         “Let’s just calm down, I mean it’s just lunch; we do it every day,” said Lilly.
         “Yeah, but we have been working for hours,” explained Livi.
         “I guess,” said Lilly.
         The girls trotted on home, very happy that they had just finished the first ever candy spaceship. It had
pictures of candy painted on it. With the candy cane pattern painted down the back, it was big enough for the
whole town.
         “Are you done yet?” asked Lilly, trying to keep a schedule.
         “Yeah,” replied Livi as she took her last bite.
         “Good. Lets go pack,” said Lilly happily.
         The girls ran upstairs to start getting packed. The two girls each pulled out a bright red suitcase that had
white embroidery with their names on it.
         “Ummm, Lilly, what are we supposed to pack?” asked Livi, who was completely clueless.
         “Oh I made a packing list,” said Lilly, who was happy to be putting her planning to use.
                                   Packing List
         1. Some practical wrappers
         2. All bathroom supplies
         3. Two eco-friendly water bottles
         4. Enough food that will last us a couple days
         5. Walkie Talkies
         6. Blanket
         “I’m done packing,” screamed Livi.
         “Good! Meet me outside,” yelled back Lilly.
         “Got it,” screeched Livi.
         About ten minutes later the girls found themselves down at the local park where there space ship lay.
         “Are you ready for this?” asked Lilly with a nervous tone to her voice.
         “Of course,” replied Livi, but she was about to wet her pants.
         Both of the girls hopped onto the candy ship. Lilly, the one who was in the driver’s seat, was shaking as
she turned the ship on.
         “Map ready?” asked Lilly.
         “Yep,” Livi answered.
                                                                                                                  93

          “3…2...1,” the girls shouted in unison.
          All of a sudden the ship began to roar, and they were up in the sky.
          “Oh my gobstoppers! We did it,” shouted Livi.
          “Wahooo,” yelled Lilly and Livi.
          “Oh look, it’s the house!” pointed out Lilly.
          “Oh yeah,” replied Livi.
          “This is really great, but now I need the map for you to tell me where to go,” commanded Lilly.
          “Oh right. You need to go right until Candy-Plaza,” instructed Livi.
          The two girls talked back and forth for hours while they were on their way to Veggie World. Space was
so amazing and more beautiful than they had ever imagined. All the Candy Planets were so cool that it brought
smiles to their faces.
          “How about we land on Cake-topia,” suggested Lilly because she was so tired.
          “That sounds like a Candylicious idea,” agreed Livi.
          The girls zoomed on over to Cake-topia and landed on a nice spot. They laid out each of their blankets
and fell asleep.
          “Ring, Ring,” went Lilly’s alarm.
          “Shut it off,” moaned Livi with a raspy voice.
          “Not until you get up,” demanded Lilly.
          All right. All right. I’m up,” said Livi, who was very annoyed.
          The two girls got out of bed and got dressed. They ate a quick morning meal, and they were soon off.
          “Veggie World, here we come,” shouted Livi as they took off back into space.
          About one hour later, the girls had reached their destination…Veggie World! It was the complete opposite
of Candy Land. Veggie World was dark, cold, and unhappy. Everyone was frowning, and there were no sounds of
laughter.
          “I don’t think I can do this,” exclaimed Lilly nervously.
          “What are you talking about? You are the smartest and most courageous person I know. If anyone can do
it, it’s you,” encouraged Livi.
          “That may be one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me,” said Lilly, touched by Livi’s
words.
          Livi directed Lilly to the dark alley where nobody could see them. The two of them sneaked out of their
spaceship.
          “Do you have any idea for a plan?” asked Livi.
          “I think so,” confessed Lilly.
          “Go,” shouted Livi.
          “ Ok, so what we need to do is first, we will distract everyone. Then we will sneak into the big room
where they are keeping all the candy. After that, we will sneak back onto the candy spaceship,” suggested Lilly.
          “That sounds great,” agreed Livi.
          The girls crept out of the spaceship and walked around in search of the big room.
          “There it is,” pointed out Livi.
          “Ok, let’s go,” said Lilly with a voice of confidence.
          All of a sudden, Livi shouted, “Earthquake!”
          All of the veggies ran into a safety room. The only thing that the girls could hear were the candy citizens
shouting for help. The twins rushed into the big multipurpose room.
          The girls screamed,” Quiet.”
          Everyone soon turned to them.
          “All right, you guys, we are going to get you out of here. Right now Livi is coming around and
unstrapping you out of your seats. Once you get out, I want you to get into a single line right outside. And no
talking because we don’t want the veggies to come out,” ordered Lilly.
          “All right, you guys, let’s do this,” encouraged Livi.
          “Yeah,” chanted the candy.
          Once everyone was outside, Lilly shouted, “Now, everyone, we have built the first-ever candy spaceship.
Therefore I need all of you to pile in very quickly, and don’t touch anything.”
          Everyone got into the spaceship. They were so impressed with what the girls had done. All the candy got
home safe and sound.
                                                                                                                  94

                                                Ten Years Later
       In case you were wondering, things are going very well for the Lollypop twins. They both are dating the
Hot Tamale twins, and they are all living happily ever after.


                                                     Warriors
                                                  by Jack Conner
         “Get down!” Sean said.
         There was a group of terrorists in front of them. Sean and Matt were Rangers. They were separated from
the other half of their group, Jeff and Rob, who were on the other side of the city. The village was really small; it
was only about a kilometer wide and two kilometers long. In general, Mexico was not a good place to be. But the
city that they were in was even worse. It was a major trade route for drugs and gun smuggling, meaning that many
insurgents came through this city, like the group Sean and Matt were facing right now.
         “There are three hostiles up in front of us,” Sean said, wondering what they should do.
         “Grenade?” Matt asked.
         Sean nodded. Matt took a grenade from his vest, pulled the pin, and rolled it ahead. It exploded, leaving
three victims on the ground, ripped apart from the shrapnel. Their heads were basically cut in half and some of
their limbs were hanging on by just a few tendons.
         “Nice!” Matt exclaimed.
         “You and explosions,” Sean said to himself. Sean enabled his walkie-talkie, which was attached to his
helmet. “Alpha 3-2, do you copy? Over.” Alpha 3-2 referred to the other half of the group, Jeff and Rob. Sean and
Matt were Alpha 3-1.
         “Alpha 1, this is Alpha 3-2; over,” Rob’s voice came over the radio.
         “Alpha 3-2, can we have a twenty on your position?” Sean asked.
         “We are approximately 500 meters from your position; over,” Rob replied.
         “Copy that; over and out.” Sean released the button from his headset.
         Another unfortunate thing about fighting in Mexico was that all the sand ruined the weapons, especially
the M-249 or squad automatic weapon (SAW). The sand got into the SAW and could jam it very easily. A third
problem was, like in Iraq and Afghanistan, the urban areas were hard to fight in and survive. Regular pieces of
trash can acted as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that used mortar rounds and wires to blow up tanks and
humvees. Not only those, but you can make an IED with practically anything explosive. In fact, forty percent of
the deaths in Iraq were caused from just IEDs alone. Not to mention, of course, there were thousands of places for
a terrorist to hide and detonate the explosives.
         Another problem was the Rules of Engagement (ROE), which said that anyone who pointed a weapon at
you meant that you were clear to engage. But when the terrorists hid in crowds of women and children, it was
hard to fire because generally the women and children didn’t shoot at you. Also, when they disguised themselves
as farmers or herders, and hid an Ak-47 in their robe, it could kill many American soldiers in the long run because
they relayed information to their headquarters saying that Americans were coming. However, to the politicians,
the ROE seem like a really good idea, but it had killed many soldiers. Terrorists use the ROE to their advantage,
like hiding in crowds for example, and then coming back and killing you, which is why the ROE don’t actually
work. Also, if you were caught shooting someone that isn’t pointing a gun at you, when the enemy caught you,
they would tell their media. Their media would tell the American media, and then next thing you knew, you
would be in jail charged with murder.
         By now, Sean and Matt were about a hundred meters away from Jeff and Rob. During the walk, many
corners came up, causing panic to the soldiers.
         “Hey, guys, is that you?” Jeff asked, anxious.
         Sean and Matt turned the corner, making themselves visible to Jeff and Rob. “Yeah, it’s us.”
         All four looked pretty much similar. Matt and Jeff both were pretty pale with brown hair, and Sean had
dirty blonde hair. Rob, however, had red hair and was a little darker than the rest of them.
         “Okay perfect,” Jeff was relieved. “That was easy.”
         “Easy for you,” Matt said under his breath.
         “What?” Jeff asked sharply.
         “Oh nothing,” Matt replied, smiling. Jeff gave him a dirty look.
         “So, what’s the plan, boss?” Rob said, breaking the tension.
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         “Okay, so, intelligence said that the enemy is approximately 400 meters northeast. There are about 10-
15 of them, and they all have AK-47’s, and RPG’s,”
         RPG’s or rocket propelled grenades were very dangerous and in some cases had been able to take down
Black Hawks, which was thought to be impossible, considering RPG’s were mainly for ground combat only.
         Sean continued, “Our intelligence thinks the insurgents are smuggling guns from the U.S. across the
border. We gotta stop ‘em. He also said that he’ll take no prisoners; kill ‘em all,” Sean explained.
         “Sounds easy enough,” Rob said.
         “Yeah, but there are still terrorists shooting at us with our weapons, and there are going to be like three
times as many as us,” Matt said.
         “Exactly, which is why we should get a plan before we get there,” Jeff said.
         “Or we could just make it up as we go,” Rob said.
         “Yeah, that’s a good idea, or I could shoot you both and do this thing with Matt,” Sean said. That quickly
shut Jeff and Rob up, and they obeyed Sean’s command immediately.
         They started off towards the objective. and the whole time Jeff and Rob talked. Sean kept telling them to
shut up, but they never listened. They would talk about stupid and random stuff, like if they had a dog what it
would be named, or what kind of dog it would be. Probably the war was taking over their minds. They would
never shut up. They were both around eighteen, fresh out of high school. They grew up together, did sports
together, and were always in at least in class together from middle school to high school. When they finally
reached the objective, they were quiet; Sean and Matt were highly irritated.
         The intersection where they were wasn’t very complicated; there were just so many places to hide, which
made Sean very frustrated. There were six houses on each side of the road, with about five feet of space between
each one, a perfect place to hide. The adobe brick houses were a great defense because the bricks were about a
foot thick and were very dense, meaning they blocked off all shots except for Sean’s 50-caliber sniper rifle.
The plan was that Jeff and Rob would go to the other side of the road; Jeff would climb on the roof with his SAW,
and Rob would stay on the ground. Sean and Matt stayed on the side where they had arrived. Sean would be on
the roof with his 50-caliber, and Matt would be on the ground with the M4 rifle, a different version of the M16.
Rob also carried a M4. On the M4, mounted below the barrel, was the M203 grenade launcher.
         Sean used his scope to look for the enemy. “No contact yet,” he said, meaning enemy not seen. After five
minutes of waiting, the hostiles finally turned up.
         “Contact north, contact north!” Sean said. The Rangers were hungry for battle; it was what they were
trained to do. At first, Sean looked through his scope and got off some shots. Four Mexicans went down. More
were still coming though, and before they knew it the insurgents turned the corner of the intersection and onto the
playing field. Matt and Rob shoved grenades into the M203 and fired, bringing two hostiles down each.
But then Sean realized something was wrong; first, there was nobody on the streets, no children or women, or
anyone. Second, there were many more than twenty hostiles. Sean’s estimate was around forty, and he was still
short; there were about fifty of them. Sean hastily went back to his rifle and looked through the scope.
         At the other side of the road, Jeff was spraying the hostiles with bullets, killing five, six, seven, eight,
more hostiles. So far everything was going just fine except for the fact that the intelligence report was wrong. Just
like a mission should be run. When Jeff realized that more people were still coming, trucks started to round the
corner, and he started to panic.
         Sean, still looking through his scope, saw that the insurgents were 200 or so meters away. He saw three
tanks coming. He immediately got onto his walkie-talkie. “General, this is Alpha 3-1 and 3-2, we need air support
now; over.”
         “Copy that. Support granted; we’re sending a chopper to your coordinates. Over and out,” the General
said.
         That was easy enough, thought Sean.
         The fighting continued for two minutes until the birds came. “Alpha 3-1, this is Super Three Eight; we’re
now above your position.”
         Sean looked up, and sure enough there was a Black Hawk above them. “Copy that Super Three Eight.
There are some tanks northwest of here; we need them shut up,” Sean said.
         “Roger that.” The bird started flying towards the objective. On the way, it sprayed the insurgents on the
ground with its machine gun, killing about seven Mexicans. Then it fired six rockets on the tanks. The tanks
exploded immediately.
                                                                                                                      96

         “Yeah!” the rangers said simultaneously. The chopper went to evacuate the Rangers from the area.
They would need much more than just four people to do this job. Then, suddenly a line of smoke shot through the
air, and the Black Hawk started to spin; it was hit by an RPG at the tail rotor. It hit the ground, tail rotor facing the
sky, and exploded, leaving no survivors.
         Oh no! Sean thought. “General, we just saw Super Three Eight go down. I repeat, Super Three Eight is
down!” Sean told the command post.
         “Shoot!” Rob yelled. Once the Black Hawk went down, the fire increased, and the Rangers were pinned
down while the command post was debating whether to send in another chopper. They decided to send in an
evacuation convoy to get the Rangers out of there.
         “Alpha 3-1 and 3-2, we are sending an evacuation convoy to your position; it will take about four
minutes. Hang in there; over and out,” General said.
         Sean was getting frustrated. “Keep up the fire, guys.”
         By now there were about twenty insurgents, thanks to the chopper, but fire was still increasing; and the
entire time, the Rangers felt like they were dodging bullets.
         They kept up the fire for about a minute when Jeff yelled, “I’m hit! Help me, help!” He was shot in the
stomach, and he was losing blood fast. Intestines started to spill out of his stomach. If he didn’t get to a medic
hospital quickly, he would die. Luckily, Rob, the medic was right there, and tended to him, but he would still need
more attention soon; Jeff’s life was in danger. But then fire immediately pounced on Jeff and Rob because they
were defenseless.
         “We have to give them cover fire!” Matt yelled to Sean. Sean nodded and started to fire. They were
almost out of ammo when the convoy arrived.
         “Get Jeff into one of those humvees!” Matt yelled as ten more Rangers came out of the vehicle, giving
them cover fire.
         “Go, go, go!” one of them yelled. Rob got Jeff in his arms and ran him into the humvees to get immediate
attention from some of the medics in the humvees. Still returning fire, Sean and Matt also started towards the
convoy. With help from the machine guns and grenade launchers on top of the humvees, most of the hostiles were
done for. The evacuation ran smoothly. Jeff was rushed to a medic hospital; he died an hour later from blood loss.
Sean was awarded the Medal of Honor. They were all awarded silver stars for their achievements and bravery.


                                                    Zombie World
                                                 by Jackson Wegener

         “Hiss” is the sound of the bullet flying past the zombie’s head. Little did I know I was shooting at my old
friends. I had to shoot if I wanted to stay alive. A worldwide disease had spread and turned all living humans into
mutant, zombie-type creatures. My friend, Jimmy, and I are the only humans left. We’re only thirteen-year old
boys taking on millions of bloodthirsty zombies.
         NASA launched a space project in about 2009. They sent a spaceship into space, and we finally touched
down on Mars. I saw it on television, which was better quality than the moon landing. When we came back, the
space ship landed, and the president opened the doors. Out came three zombies, and they infected everyone at the
space station. It began to spread and spread but never got the best of us.
         The first time I ever saw one in person was at Christmas when I was ten. My dad was baking turkey and
preparing it with herbs when I noticed his eyes turning bloodshot red. His skin turned pale.

         I ran over to him and said, “Dad, are you ok?”
         He didn’t respond. His skin was as cold as ice. I knew what was happening; he had been infected by the
disease and was turning into a zombie. It looked like he was having a seizure. Then he stopped and was just
staring at the turkey. He turned his head toward me and jumped. Quickly, I pulled out my Desert Eagle pistol and
shot him. I had no other choice. I fell to my knees and started crying.
         Jimmy and I finally decided what we needed to do. This had to stop; it was getting too dangerous. We
needed to stop them if we wanted to survive. Jimmy and I both decided we had to find a cure for the disease.
Jimmy and I live together in the same house. Our first plan was to capture a zombie and try to cure it.
         “There’s no way we can catch a zombie and come home alive,” complained Jimmy.
                                                                                                                    97

         “It’s going to be hard, but we don’t want to live like this forever,” I explained. Jimmy and I were
immune to the disease. We were the lucky ones.
         “How about in the parking garage? We can put some blood for a zombie to eat. Then we make it
unconscious somehow, bring it back to the lab, and cure it,” I suggested. I said ‘in the parking garage’ because
zombies can’t walk out in sunlight
         Today was the day we would try to catch the zombie. Jimmy and I brought our guns just in case. We
drove to the parking garage, where we knew hundreds of bloodthirsty zombies were waiting for the sun to go
down and come out for us. When we got there, I could see those red zombies at the window trying to break it
down to charge at us. I stepped out of the car with my heart pumping. There was a vial of red blood from my skin
in my hand.
         Jimmy said, “Throw it in there and see how long it takes for the zombies to get it.” I took my position and
threw as hard as I could. It landed in a perfect spot right in the middle.
         I began to count, “1,2 3,4…” Only eight seconds for the zombies to come. I burst off my feet and pulled
my tranquilizer gun out of my pants. There were four zombies, but we only needed one. To be safe, I shot them
all in the head. “Bulls eye,” I remarked.
         Once they were all down and unconscious, I rushed in with a big, blue tarp in my hands. I quickly placed
it over the gruesome, red zombie so it would burn to pieces in the sunlight.
         “Pop the trunk,” I told Jimmy. I tossed the heavy, smelly zombie in the trunk. I threw my body in the
passenger seat. We were off to try to bring the humans back.
         The car ride back was very quiet. I was just thinking about al the zombies I’ve killed and knowing that
they were probably friends or some family I once knew.
         When we got back home, we carried the zombie into the lab. I laid it on the table that looked like a dentist
chair. Jimmy snatched the medicine off the table.
         “This is it,” I said. He stabbed the zombie with the medicine. It went out of control. I think it was having a
seizure. It was a good thing we chained it down to the chair. Then it stopped, and I started noticing ears and eyes
forming.
         “It worked!” I exclaimed.
          We walked upstairs and talked about how we were going to get all the zombies cured.
         “So the cure works, but how do we get it to all the zombies? There are millions of them!” I exclaimed.
         “Well...” Jimmy was dumbfounded. We both were. “Why don’t we take a night’s rest and think about it
then. We’ll discuss it in the morning.”
         I lifted my body off the cold, wooden chair and headed upstairs to my room. It would be a long, happy,
and confusing night. I looked at my watch. We had to go into lockdown in five minutes because we lock down
our house every night at sunset before the zombies come out. Slowly, I made my way into my room and took a
close look at all the pictures on my wall and on my desk. It was my family and friends.
         All of a sudden, I heard a scream downstairs. Jimmy? I ran and saw thousands of zombies flushing
through the streets. The guns were still in the car. We were dead. I started to cry but thought of a better life. I
slowly put out my shaky hand on my belt and pulled out my desert eagle. The cold pistol made its way up to my
head. Flashbacks ran through my mind, both happy and sad. “Bang.”


                                              A Lizard’s Point of View
                                                  by Jacob Butler

         “Jacob!” Alan screamed in the most freaked out way possible.
         “What is it?” panted Jacob as he ran through the grass. As Jacob neared the clearing, a giant shadow
loomed overhead. Just as Jacob was about to stop running, the ground gave out underneath him. He fell screaming
into darkness, then hit an extremely rough rock that gave him a concussion.
         Alan heard the crash but couldn’t go to help because a giant crocodile was trapping him in the water with
no way out. Alan watched in anticipation as the crocodile turned instinctively toward the noise. Seizing the
opportunity, he sprang up off the ground and landed on the crocodile’s back. There he was surprised to find a
worm. At the impulse, the crocodile spun around and sent Alan flying into a nearby mud pit. Alan is a turtle, so he
hid inside of his shell. His rock hard shell absorbed the impact, but immediately he wanted to go back in the
water. His shell was now covered with mud, and he felt like he weighed one hundred pounds. At that moment,
                                                                                                                  98

Alan remembered Jacob but didn’t dare yell his name for fear the crocodile might hear him. Alan clawed his
way out of the pit and lay gasping for breath. Then he started wondering what had happened to Jacob. “Was he
injured; he’s much more fragile than I because he’s a lizard.” These thoughts raced through his mind as he lay on
the ground panting.
         Meanwhile on Jacob’s part, the sound of a distant rumbling woke him up. At first he didn’t know what it
was, and then he looked around and realized that he was in a snake hole. This was quite a shock, for he was used
to the blue sky and giant towers of green grass. The thing he worried about most, though, was what had happened
to Alan. In these thoughts came all that had happened to them. First, they had been tailed by a hawk that wanted
to eat Jacob. At last, when they thought they had lost the hawk, Jacob had lain down to rest. Alan’s first thought
had been to find water. Luckily for him, there was water in sight. This had led them to where they were now. Just
as this thought struck him, a deafening noise blasted his ears.
         Alan had not yet realized how much danger he was currently in. He was sprawled on top of one of a
snake’s many tunnels; in fact he was on top of a different section of the same snake hole that Jacob was in. As
Alan slowly rose on his webbed feet, he felt a tremor pass through him.
         “No!” he screamed as he tried to run, but he wasn’t quick enough. The ground gave way beneath his feet;
and he fell, concealed in his shell, onto the rushing form of the snake beneath him. As soon as he was sure nothing
else was going to fall on him, he uncurled his back legs, front legs, and neck. Now he could see the snake was
talking with a familiar shape that he couldn’t quite remember. He decided to crawl forward to get a better look at
the only other living beings in the tunnel.
         All of a sudden, the odd shape called out to him. “Alan!” yelped what he realized to be a very beaten-up
looking Jacob.
         Alan’s mouth was speechless, but his body was quite the opposite. He rushed to Jacob and was about to
ask how he had gotten there, when the snake’s enormous head moved to hover directly in front of him.
         “Who are you?” asked the snake in a slow tone that sounded very deadly.
         “I am no other than Alan, Jacob’s best friend and a very amazing turtle,” retorted Alan in a challenging
tone.
         “I see you are not so smart, for I am in control in this tunnel. As you can see, you are on my back and I
can shake you off any time I want to,” lectured the snake in a very cool and easy tone.
         “Maybe I could suggest a resolution,” butted in Jacob. “You see, we all are in danger, and we all share the
same enemy,” lectured Jacob.
         “You hate the hawk, too?” asked Alan in a wondrous tone.
         “Of course I hate the hawk; it is the reason I can’t venture outside for fear of being eaten,” retorted the
snake. “By the way, my name is Hank,” confided Hank to Alan and Jacob.
         “Okay, Hank. Now we need to come up with a strategy to get rid of that pesky hawk once and for all,”
reasoned Jacob.
         “Maybe we could hit it out of the sky with something really hard,” added Alan. “Why is everyone looking
at me?” he questioned.
         At that moment, he realized that his shell was harder than rock, and they wanted to throw him at the
hawk. At last Hank said that he’d once been told a story about a worm that had learned to control a hawk by
pulling its feathers in different ways.
         “But why would a worm want to kill all of us?” pondered Jacob in his head.
         “Isn’t it obvious? The worms want the ground all to themselves,” exclaimed Hank in an exasperated tone.
         “Then it’s up to us to stop them,” blurted Alan.
         “That’s true, but first we need a plan,” spoke Jacob.
         “I’m tired of plans. Let’s go kill those evil worms and be done with it,” sighed Alan.
         “Sorry, Alan, but I’m going to have to agree with Jacob on the plan,” pointed out Hank.
         “Okay, our main target is to find the place the worms keep their tame hawks,” mused Jacob. “Our next
plan after that would have to be to take control of one of the hawks and lead the others to safety. After that, we’ll
have to rally some other freedom fighters and storm the worm’s stronghold. Hopefully, we’ll be able to find a
skunk and have him flush them out,” lectured Jacob to Hank.
         But wait! Alan had disappeared during the endless talking.
         “Quick. We must catch Alan before he kills himself trying to defeat the worms,” shouted Hank as he
noticed what Jacob had noticed only a second before. The two hurriedly climbed out of the snake hole, only to
find that they were surrounded by hawks, eagles, falcons, worms, turtles, lizards, and even sea snakes.
                                                                                                                    99

         “Why do you wish to hurt us,” asked Jacob in a confused voice.
         “You are charged with the crime of trying to stop the worm invasion,” spoke the largest worm in the
crowd.
         “Why would you want to help the worms take over the land you used to roam freely,” asked a bewildered
Hank to all the other creatures besides the worms.
         “They don’t have to answer your question,” spat the lead worm. At that moment however, a murmur went
through the crowd. At the time they had been rounded up, they had been outnumbered; but if they all fought
together, they could easily crush the worms. One by one, hawks started eating the worms off each other’s backs.
         “To victory,” roared Alan as he rode into the clearing on the same crocodile that had tried to eat him.
         “No!” screamed the lead worm as he was swallowed up by a soaring eagle. Worms everywhere were
being eaten whole by hawks, eagles, and even falcons. At last when the feast of all who fly had finished, there
was a big meeting.
         “I would like to sign a truce with you that would say the birds will no longer eat snakes, lizards, and
turtles,” sighed the eagle,” but we would starve if we did.”
         “I think that it is natural for you to hunt us, but we must always resist the worms,” declared Jacob, now a
very strong leader.
         “Then it is settled. We will not eat you today, but tomorrow do not expect it to be the same,” agreed the
eagle. In agreement, all the other birds let out a piercing cry.
         Just as the birds had said, the next day it was as if the worms had never tried to take over. In fact there
were no more worms in this part of the world. Perhaps now the world would be a better place to live in.


                                Super Mechanical Pencil Travels Out of the Classroom
                                              by Jarrett Perches

         “Hi, my name is Red. Don’t ask me why; it just is. My best friend is named Blue; he is a super hero. He
is…Super Mechanical Pencil!
         It was a nice day in the classroom where all of pencils live, but today Blue and I were taking a trip out of
the classroom. What was different today was that instead of fighting evil dudes like the evil erasers, Dr. Magic
Rub and Professor Pinky Pants, we were taking the day off. Little did we know that there were some strange
creatures out in the real world.
         “Knock, Knock.” I ran down the stairs.
         Blue was there wearing his cape. “Ready to go?” he asked.
         “Sure,” I said.
         Then we went to the door and squeezed through a little niche at the bottom of it. Next thing I knew, we
were in the real world.
         “Wow!” Blue and I gasped. It was so bright and big to us; we just couldn’t see the end of it.
         As Blue and I gazed at it, we suddenly heard stomping behind us. It was a giant, followed by his friends. I
had heard of them; they were called children. They pick up pencils like us and control them, forcing them to write
what they want. The Giant child picked us up.
         “Stop him, Blue, stop him,” I yelled. Blue thought quickly, jumping up and hurling some freshly
sharpened lead at the child’s palm.
         “Yow, ouch, wha!” the child screeched as he fell to the ground wailing. All of the other children stared at
him. Blue and I knew this was our time to bust this joint, so I hopped on his back and took off. We examined the
land ‘til Blue was too tired. We collapsed onto a giant, yellow haystack in the middle of nowhere.
         “Need water,” Blue said weakly.
         I searched around. “Oh, there’s a drinking fountain on the other side of that fence.”
         “I can’t fly all the way over there,” he exclaimed.
         “Ay, Blue,” I said. “If you’re to tired to fly over there, we could hitch a ride on that cat.” So that is what
we did; but unfortunately, the cat had to pee, so he went over to the fence, and guess what even more luck……
Zap!
         “A-an electrical fence!”
         “We’re never going to get water,” Said Blue.
         “Hey, we could drink the stuff lying under the fence,” I suggested.
                                                                                                                  100

         “Do you even know what that is?”
         “No?” I said, as if it were a question. I sort of looked away, and right there, so close to us, was a drinking
fountain. Blue and I scurried over. It was the best water ever.
         Later on, Blue and I traveled awhile until we found an underground, super-fast Rat plane going from here
in northern California all the way to New York. We snuck onto the plane. On the plane were rats. I had rats
before, nibbling on us pencils in the classroom. The ride seemed to take a really long time ,and I was sweating
floods and was super uncomfortable. Then this big rat farted, and it smelled like moldy cheese.
         “Ack, cough, cough!” I wheezed. “C’mon, man.”
         The rat looked at me annoyed, then got up to walk to the bathroom. When he came out he smelled even
worse, like he’d had a big-time, major accident. I looked at him, disgusted. That seemed to make him really mad,
so he scooped me up and tossed me into his mouth.
         “Gack!” I slid down his slippery tongue and landed with a thud in his gushy stomach. Blue must have
said something to him as well because in a few minutes he hit rock bottom too.
         “Uck!” It smelled horrible in there, and we were basically sitting on cheese and various different insects.
But my least favorite part was how we got out. First we heard a rumble then it all went down from there. Next
thing we knew, we were in a whirl of water that must have been the toilet. Next, it was like a water slide, and
even though the water was a dirty brown, it was kind of fun.
         “Yeehaw!” screamed Blue as we hit the bottom. We saw a little vent. Blue flew us out of it. We looked up
at a sign that said, “Welcome To Coney Island.” Blue and I walked around. It was obvious that we had no idea
what we were doing because we walked right into the place where humans were shooting paintball guns at
another human. And boy, did Blue get hit hard. It was like a bowling ball against a bowling pin. Bam! We were
lucky he didn’t break any bones, although he got a pretty big dent in him.
         “Let’s get out of here!” he said.
         We sprinted out, and Blue flew us away again. It was the fastest I’d ever seen him fly. We almost got hit
by a lady with a giant, green torch, but luckily we avoided her. We also nearly got hit by a baseball as we flew
over a place called Yankee Stadium. Next, we found a motorized bird thingy. It was ginourmous.
         “This could be our ticket home,” said Blue.
         “Let’s just hope it’s going to San Francisco,” I said.
         We climbed into the bottom of the plane where a bunch of suitcases were. It was a long ride but a lot
quicker than the rat plane, plus we knew it had to be headed west toward California. The place where we were
sitting was slightly crowded and uncomfortable.
         Finally, we heard a voice from up above saying, “We will be in San Francisco in 15 minutes.”
         “Yippee!” we exclaimed happily.
         When the giant bird thingy hit the ground and stopped, these other humans opened the little niche in
which we were. They started grabbing the suitcases. I wasn’t sure how we could hide from them, so Blue and I
hopped into a big, black suitcase to hide from the people grabbing them. Soon we started rolling on a cart.
         I started getting nervous. “Where could they be taking us?” But then again, Blue didn’t look too worried.
         It took about a half an hour until we started moving around in a circle and got picked up by someone. We
peered out of the suitcase just in time, or else we would have been stuck in the trunk of the taxi he was getting
into. Unfortunately, we jumped and landed right in his pocket.
         We rode for a while until we saw the school up ahead. “What should we do?” I asked Blue.
         “I’ll fly us out,” said Blue. Just then, Blue’s cape ripped. “Or jump,” said Blue.
         “Jump?” I asked.
         Blue grabbed me, and we sneakily crept out of the man’s pocket; then we slowly tip-toed up to the
window. Without warning, we jumped and landed right on the hard concrete. It hurt a little, but I was okay.
Finally we sprinted to the classroom, through the little niche in the door, and into the class. It seemed so small
compared to the real world.
         On our way home, we ran into our good friend, Orange. He asked, “Where were you guys?”
         “In the outdoors,” I answered.
         “How was it?” asked Orange.
         “Interesting,” answered Blue.
         “But fun,” I added.
                                                                                                                101

                                                Saving Malyia
                                               by Jessica Alvarado

         In a little town called Maliya, Florida, everything was perfect. The schools were good. The kids got along,
and trouble rarely happened there.
         It was two weeks until summer break. Right when Jenny got to class, there were four new students at the
front of the classroom. Two minutes later, a boy ran into the classroom panting.
         “Why are you late?” hissed one of the tall, new students.
         The boy who was late ran and took a seat next to Jenny before the other people could say one more word.
         “Now, let me introduce the new students!” Ms. Bird shouted at her class. “Thank you for the silence,” she
continued. “First, this young man is named Mike. Next to Mike is Madelyn. And also here we have Ashley and
David. They are the Simons. Now please welcome them, class.”
         “Welcome,” the class moaned.
         When they were taking their seats, Mike threw an evil glare at the boy sitting next to Jenny.
         “What’s your name?” Jenny asked shyly.
         “Alex,” he replied. “And yours?”
         “Jenny.”
         “Nice to meet you, Jenny,” Alex remarked.
         “You, too,” she replied.
         “Silence!” Ms. Bird yelled.
         Even after that, people were still whispering. When the bell rang for lunch, Jenny was relieved. She really
wanted to get to know Alex more and see what he thought about the new students. At lunch, Jenny asked Alex if
she could sit with him. To their disappointment, there were no other empty tables except next to the Simons, the
new students.
         “Oh, great,” Jenny sighed.
         Jenny was the type of girl who was kind of shy. With her blond hair and blue eyes, she was pretty; but she
didn’t have many friends. She was very smart and got straight A’s. She wasn’t the type of girl who would go out
with her friends at two in the morning, although she might be up studying at that time!
         Alex was a whole different person. He didn’t care about his grades, and he was the kind of person who
had many friends and would be out late. They had two different personalities, but you could tell that soon they
were going to be good friends.
         Alex and Jenny took a seat next to the new kids. It didn’t feel like a very comfortable environment. For a
couple of minutes, everything was silent.
         Then Alex started a “conversation.” “So, where did you come from?” he asked.
         “Seattle,” Ashley replied.
         “We have lived in Houston, Los Angeles, and Seattle though! “ David stated.
         Then everything was silent. The Simons seemed to be talking to each other…in thought.
         “Umm, hi. I don’t know if I’ve introduced myself. I’m Jenny,” she said, trying to get some conversation
started.
         “Nice to meet you,” replied one of the Simons. “I’m Ashley,” she said again.
         “They seem kind of nice,” Jenny whispered to Alex.
         “Everyone has their own opinion,” Alex mumbled.
         For a second, the Simons looked at each other; then they stood up and left, taking their untouched lunches
with them and dumping them in the trash can.
         “Something is wrong with them!” Jenny said to Alex.
         “Trust me, I know!” Alex replied.
         “Jenny, can I trust you with a big secret?” he asked.
         “Yes,” Jenny said.
         “The Simons aren’t humans. They’re a type of creature,” he whispered. “They’re called marves,”
         “Are marves bad or good?” Jenny asked.
         “They are bad,” he replied. “I’ve researched it before. In their human form, they are grumpy as well. You
can always recognize a marve when you see one!”
         “Wow! That’s all I have to say, “Jenny replied.
         “Yeah.”
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         “Wait, so are they in their human form right now?” Jenny asked.
         “Yes, that is why they look somewhat normal,” Alex replied.
         “Okay, so what are they doing in our town?”
         “Probably trying to kill certain people in the town.”
         “Really? We have to find out who those people are and save them! We have to educate the whole town of
Maliya on what marves are and what they can do to you!”
         “Whoa, whoa, whoa! We can’t do this so fast. If they find out that we know their identity, then they will
be after us. Do you understand?”
         “Oh, so we have to construct a plan?” Jenny wondered.
         “In a way, yes,” Alex replied.
         “I think the bell is going to ring soon, so I have to get going. Come after school to my house so we can
talk more about it,” Jenny said.
         “Okay, got it. See you after school,” Alex replied.
         “Bye.”
         After a long school day, Jenny went home. She looked in the cupboards for something to eat while she
waited for Alex to come over. Then Jenny found some cookies, so she took them out. After about ten minutes,
Alex came. Jenny offered him some cookies, and they got down to business.
         “Hi, Alex.”
         “Hi, Jenny.”
         “My mom will be home from work at 7:00, so maybe you should leave at 6:30 or so. We’ll have about
two hours. Is that all right?” Jenny asked.
         “Yeah, it’s fine with me. I don’t care,” Alex said.
         “Okay, so let’s start discussing,” Jenny exclaimed.
         “First of all, we cannot let them find out that we know who they are,” Alex stated.
         “Yes, you are definitely right,” replied Jenny.
         “So, we have to find out who they are after and…“
         “Oh, sorry for interrupting, but can I go get the mail ‘cause I’m supposed to and I’m probably going to
forget,” Jenny interrupted.
         “Oh yeah, sure,” Alex replied.
         “Okay, I’ll be right back.”
         Jenny went outside to get the mail. She came in with a larger pile than usual.
         “Hey look! There’s one addressed to both of us!” Alex pointed out.
         Jenny dropped the pile of mail except for that one letter and raced over to Alex.
         “Huh. No return address; that’s weird,” Jenny thought to herself.
         “Well, don’t just stand there. Let’s open it!” Alex said.
         “Okay sure,” Jenny replied. “How about we do it together?”
         Together they tore open the envelope to find a typed letter. It was from the Simon’s! Jenny and Alex read
the letter in their heads:

Jenny and Alex,
         We know that you know what we are. You can’t even pretend not to. If anyone else finds out, you are
literally dead. If I were you, I would stay away from us and out of our lives. If you simply leave us alone, we will
leave you alone. Our advice to you: stay away from us and drop all of the research to try to figure out more about
us. Lastly, if this letter gets shown to anyone, there will be serious consequences.
                                                        Sincerely,
                                                       The Simons
                                                Coral      Jason
                                Mike          Ashley         Madelyn           David

       “Okay. What do you think about the letter?” Jenny asked.
       “I don’t think we should follow their stupid rules. They are definitely not in charge of us,” Alex
exclaimed.
       “We’re going to have to do something about this,” Jenny said.
       “Yeah,” Alex continued.
                                                                                                             103

         They continued discussing the subject; then Jenny realized what time it was.
         “Oh gosh! It’s already 6:50! Uh-oh…there’s my mom walking out of her car!” Jenny screeched.
         She tried to think of a quick plan in her head. As Jenny was thinking, Alex kept pacing around. All of a
sudden, Jenny thought of a plan. Alex would run up to her room, and then Jenny’s mom would come home. Jenny
would go up to her room and lower Alex from the window. YAY! Jenny at once told her brilliant plan to Alex and
they did what they had to do.
         “She’s coming; go up to my room,” Jenny exclaimed. “Run!”
         All of a sudden Jenny’s mom walked through the door.
         “Hi Jenny,” she said. “How was school?”
         “Good,” Jenny replied. “I’m going to go up to my room to finish my homework. Bye.”
         “You have to go out the window, but I will get you a rope ladder,” Jenny whispered.
         “Thanks,” Alex said.
         “Here it is. Sorry for making you go out the window,” Jenny replied.
         “Bye.”
         “Bye.”
         Then Jenny lowered the rope ladder down so Alex could climb out the window. After that, Alex started to
climb down very fast, and in about a minute he was on the ground! He waved goodbye to Jenny and ran before
her mom could see him.
         After a short dinner, Jenny finished up the homework she’d been pretending to do and went straight to
bed. The next day at school, the Simons weren’t there. This kept on for two weeks until Jenny and Alex decided
to do something.
         “We can’t just let them disappear like this,” Alex exclaimed.
         “I know…the only thing we can do is try to follow them,” Jenny replied.
         “How are we going to get away from our parents?” Alex asked.
         “Well, my mom is going out of town in two days,” Jenny said.
         “Good. My parents are so stupid that it will be easy. I’ll tell my mom that I’m going somewhere for
school,” Alex replied.
         Three days later, Jenny and Alex were both boarding the plane to Houston, Texas.
         “If we don’t find them here, let’s go to Los Angeles, California,” Alex said.
         “They have lived in Houston, LA, Seattle, and now Maliya,” Jenny said.
         “Correct,” Alex replied.
         Once they landed in Houston, they got in a taxi and looked almost everywhere they might be. The Simons
weren’t there, so they got on another flight to Los Angeles. On the plane they discussed the Simons and where
they could be.
         “I’m so mad they weren’t there,” Alex said.
         “I know,” Jenny said. “I want to know why we are even wasting our time and money looking for the
Simons, Alex. This is my whole life’s savings,” Jenny asked.
         “They are killing many people. Those innocent people don’t deserve to die. That’s why they move so
much. Some people in our town are next in line to die, Jenny. That’s why,” Alex explained.
         “Okay, I’m sorry,” Jenny replied.
         Before they knew it, Jenny and Alex were in LA. Neither of them had ever been to LA, so this was
exciting for them, although they weren’t there to have fun. Again, they hopped into a taxi and drove around.
Around 6:00 they stopped for some dinner at a Mexican restaurant.
         “That was good!” Alex exclaimed.
         “I know! We have to come back to LA some time when we can actually do stuff rather than look for the
Simons!” Jenny replied.
         “This is more fun than Houston, though!” Alex said.
         “Yeah. Um, excuse me, sir, what is your name?” Jenny asked the taxi driver.
         “Jim,” he replied.
         “Hi, Jim. Do you happen to have a phonebook?” Jenny asked.
         “Yes. Here you go,” Jim replied while handing her a phone book.
         Together Jenny and Alex looked up “Simon” under resident listings. They found their name and asked
Jim to take them to the Simon’s listing. When they pulled up, they saw one car in the driveway. They knocked on
the door, but nobody answered. They told Jim to wait in front of the house for them.
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         “Hello, anyone home?” Alex asked.
         “I don’t think they’re here. Let’s go into the backyard,” Jenny said.
         Jenny and Alex crept into the backyard and looked around for a little. Then they found a part of the grass
where it looked like people had been burying things. Alex and Jenny immediately went into the shed, got a
shovel, and started digging. They soon found something unbelievable, something that they would never forget. A
body. Of a little girl. She was in a pink-and-yellow, polka-dot dress with cuts all over her. Although she was
wrapped in a sheet, you could still see her. Jenny and Alex were speechless. Then all of a sudden, they heard a
yell from inside.
         “What are you doing in my backyard?” the lady asked.
         Jenny and Alex didn’t respond; they just ran out the gate and hopped into Jim’s taxicab.
         “Take us to the airport,” Alex exclaimed.
         Jim sped to the airport while Jenny and Alex tried to reserve tickets on a flight home to Maliya. They
finally got the tickets and boarded the plane with two minutes to spare. Jenny and Alex slept during almost the
whole plane ride; but right when they were about to land, they both woke up.
         “Once we get off this flight, let’s immediately tell the police. They’ll sure do something about it. Maybe
the Simons will be back!” Jenny said a little too loudly for being on a plane.
         “Shhhhh, quiet down, Jenny, and yes, maybe they will be back. Who knows!” Alex replied in a more
hushed tone.
         “Okay.”
         Then all of a sudden they heard a voice on the intercom come on.
         “Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. We will be landing in Maliya shortly. Please stay buckled for the
landing. Thank you for flying with us, and we hope you have enjoyed your flight,” the flight attendant said
happily.
         About five minutes after the intercom went off, before they knew it, they were landing in Maliya again!
Jenny and Alex were happy to be home. Once they got off the plane, they grabbed their baggage and got in a cab
to go to the police station. Maliya was lucky that it was a big enough city to have its own airport, or they would be
driving a lot longer!
         When they finally got to the police station, they paid their taxi driver and got out of the car. They walked
into the police station and asked to talk to the police chief. Then they walked into his office, and Jenny and Alex
explained EVERYTHING! They also showed him the letter, and he was speechless. Jenny and Alex were getting
nervous that the policeman wouldn’t believe them. What if he didn’t? But he would. They were sure! For a couple
of minutes they had to convince the policeman that it was true though.
         They immediately went to the high school where Jenny and Alex went and looked for them. They weren’t
there. Next they went to the Simons house and found the whole family. They were sitting on the couch, silent.
         “You’re under arrest!” yelled the policeman. “Every single one of you,” he continued. “ We know what
you are, I’ve even seen the letter! And soon the whole town of Maliya will too,” he exclaimed.
         All of a sudden they started to hear many growls…from the Simons. Jenny and Alex felt so powerful, and
before they knew it the whole police station was at the Simons house. It was getting late, so the police decided to
take them back to jail. It took three cars to drive them all and an extra special one for Jenny and Alex!!!
         The next morning, once she got back home Jenny told her mom everything. Her mom was mad at her for
doing all of this without telling her but also so proud! The headlines of the newspaper were, “Saving Maliya;
Jenny and Alex.” Then, except for the Simons, everybody lived happily ever after!


                                                    Pig Island
                                                  by Julia Gomes

         Jamie stepped onto the airplane, her curly blond hair sitting on her shoulders and her hand holding her
younger brother Peter’s hand. Jamie was eleven years old. She lived with her brother, Peter, her one-year-old
sister, Annie, and her mom, Jane. She had a miniature potbelly pig named Olivia and a Boston terrier named
Dino. The Pengelly family lived in a small town in the middle of Connecticut. All four of the Pengellys have
blond hair and blue eyes, but Annie and Jamie were the only ones with curly hair.
                                                                                                                    105

          Jamie and Peter sat in two small seats behind Mrs. Pengelly and Annie. Behind Jamie and Peter sat
ten-year-old Katie Jones. Katie was all alone because her parents were on a business trip in New York. She was
staying with her grandparents in Hawaii until her parents got back.
          Jamie looked out the window, wishing Olivia was with her. Olivia was Jamie’s pet, and Dino was the
family’s pet. Jamie quickly blinked and shook her head.
          “What’s wrong?” Peter asked bewildered.
          “Nothing,” replied Jamie.
          “I’m sure that was Olivia,” Jamie muttered to herself. “It couldn’t have been her; that’s silly. It was just a
bird.”
          The next thing she knew, the plane was shaking out of control. First it jerked forward, then to the right, to
the left, and finally, down. It went down, down, down, and everything went black.
                                                          ***
          “Jamie, Jamie wake up,” said a voice.
          “What? Where am I?” Jamie asked, rubbing her eyes.
          “It’s OK, Jamie, you’re all right,” said Mrs. Pengelly.
          “What happened?” asked Jamie.
          “The plane went out of control, and we landed on this island,” said Mrs. Pengelly.
          “Is everyone ok?” Jamie asked.
          “Yes, everyone is fine,” said Mrs. Pengelly.
          Jamie was exhausted, so she slept the whole day. The next morning, Jamie woke up in a small hut made
of tree branches and leaves. To her surprise, Olivia was fast asleep, right next to her. Her mom was already up and
making breakfast.
          Jamie asked her mom how Olivia had gotten there, and Mrs. Pengelly just said, “I don’t know, but at least
she’s with you, right?”
          Jamie walked away wondering why her mom didn’t think anything of it.
          “How did Olivia get here?” Jamie thought. Jamie was happy that Olivia was there.
          “Mom probably brought her here secretly,” she thought to herself. Jamie decided to explore the island.
She put on some shoes and picked up Olivia.
          “You have really gotten heavy,” said Jamie. They continued to explore until Jamie couldn’t hold Olivia
any more. She set her down and looked around. The island was beautiful! There were palm trees everywhere and
flowers that Jamie had never seen before. The palm tree next to Jamie shook, and Jamie spun around quickly.
          “What was that?” said Jamie even though there was nobody to talk to.
          “It must have been the wind,” Jamie thought. She continued walking. Another tree moved.
          “Who’s there?” Jamie said nervously. Jamie turned around and quickly made her way back to the hut. She
stopped. Where was Olivia? She turned around again; she was nowhere to be seen. Jamie was panicking now. She
told herself, “Don’t worry Jamie. She couldn’t have gotten far.” Jamie looked behind trees near her. No luck.
          Jamie felt a tug on her jacket, and she was soon rising into the air. She looked up and gasped. The thing
that was pulling her up was none other than Olivia. Jamie was so confused; she didn’t know what to say.
          She didn’t have to say anything because Olivia said, “I know you’re are scared, but you have to listen to
me.”
          They landed in a tree very high in the air.
          “Oh great! Now she can talk!” Jamie said sarcastically.
          “I know it seems weird,” said Olivia, “but you’ve got to listen! This island is called Pig Island. It’s a place
for pigs to live when their owners are treating them badly.” Olivia paused and started speaking again, “You have
to help them, Jamie. There is a volcano at the other end of the island, and inside of it lives an evil witch named
Alison. She hates pigs! Alison wants to destroy all of the pigs in the world.”
          “That’s a lot of pigs,” said Jamie.
          “I know,” said Olivia.
          “Why do the pigs come to this island?” Jamie asked.
          “It’s the only island people don’t know about,” Olivia replied.
          “Why do I have to stop her? I’m only eleven,” said Jamie.
          “You’re the only one that knows that we can talk and fly. Well, only you and Katie,” said Olivia.
          “You mean that other girl on the airplane with us?” asked Jamie.
                                                                                                                   106

          Olivia nodded. Jamie sat there thinking it all through, when out of nowhere, Katie popped up. Jamie
nearly fell out of the tree.
          “How did you get here?” Jamie asked.
          “Elvis,” Katie replied, pointing towards a fat, pink pig.
          “Hi there,” Elvis said.
          “Hi,” said Jamie.
          “We really need to get going,” said Katie, “We have to find the crystal before Alison does.
          “What crystal?” Jamie asked, puzzled.
          “I’ll explain on the way, but now we really have to go!” Katie said. Olivia and Elvis picked up both girls,
and they carried them to the ground.
          “Thanks. We can walk from here,” said Katie.
          They started walking. Katie led the way.
          “The crystal is the one thing that keeps pigs living. When a pig dies, another pig is sent to retrieve them
and bring them to this island. Once at the island, they are carried to the crystal and brought back to life. Now the
pig will live forever. However, if the crystal is destroyed, pigs will go extinct.”
          “All the pigs?” Jamie asked.
          “All the pigs,” Katie repeated.
          “Where is the crystal now?” Jamie asked.
          “I can’t tell you now; someone might hear me,” Katie whispered.
          “That’s odd. There’s no one here,” Jamie thought to herself. They kept walking, but Jamie had to walk a
little faster to keep up with Katie. About ten minutes had gone by when they reached the end of the island.
          “This looks like the end of the island, doesn’t it?” Katie asked.
          “That’s because it is the end of the island,” Said Jamie.
          “Just follow me, and make sure you’re right behind me,” said Katie.
          Katie stepped into the water, but she didn’t get wet. Her foot didn’t even go into the water; it just floated
above it. She took another step. No splash, nothing. She took two more steps. Now it was Jamie’s turn. She
stepped forward, and to her surprise, her foot didn’t even touch the water.
          “Wow,” said Jamie quietly.
          “Remember, stay right behind me,” said Katie.
          They took turns taking steps. They began to get higher and Jamie was a little nervous. Finally, they
stopped. Katie touched the air, and it turned into a room. They both walked inside, Jamie was right behind Katie.
The room was completely empty except for a picture hanging on the wall. Katie moved the picture, and there it
was -- the crystal.
          Katie removed the crystal and put the painting back. Katie turned around and gasped. Alison was standing
in the doorway. She shut the door.
          “Now,” said Alison, “you can just hand over the crystal, or we can do this the hard way.”
          Jamie tried to grab the crystal, but Katie pulled it away.
          “What are you doing?!” Katie asked.
          “I’m giving her the crystal. Give it to her; she might hurt us!” Jamie shouted.
          “Do you want Olivia to die?” Katie asked.
          “Of course not!” Jamie said.
          “Well then, follow me,” said Katie, and she stomped on the ground and fell through the bottom of the
house.
          Without thinking, Jamie jumped through the same hole. It turned out that it wasn’t a hole; it was a giant
slide. The slide was see-through, so she could see everything around her. She soon realized that she was
underwater. She saw all kinds of sea animals. Jamie suddenly dropped out of the slide, and landed on a huge
pillow. The pillow was probably as big as a table. She stood up and jumped off the pillow.
          “Come on,” said Katie.
          “I’m coming, I’m coming, “said Jamie.
          They ran through a hallway, turning right and left, left and right, until finally they reached the end where
there was a ladder. Katie stuck the crystal in her pocket and began climbing the ladder. Jamie was soon climbing
as well.
          “Do you think Alison is close?” Jamie asked as they climbed the ladder. Katie stopped climbing and
pushed up on a trap door. She climbed out and waited for Jamie.
                                                                                                                     107

         “She’s not even close! She didn’t come through the hole; it closed up right after you jumped,” said
Jamie.
        “Oh,” said Jamie as she climbed out. “Wow! Look at all the pigs. Were they waiting for us or
something?”
        “Yeah,” said Katie. “A pig has to put the crystal in the top of the volcano.”
Katie handed the crystal to Elvis. He put the crystal on his back and flew up to the top of the volcano.
        “So you mean this whole time we were in a volcano?!” said Jamie.
        “No, we were in the volcano when we started climbing the ladder. Once the crystal is in the top of the
volcano, it will break in half. Don’t worry though, the pigs will live.” said Katie. A few seconds later, the crystal
broke, and all the pigs were thanking Katie and Jamie.
        “Jamie, Jamie, Jamie, wake up. We’re in Hawaii. It’s time to go,” said Mrs. Pengelly.
        “What! We aren’t in Hawaii, we’re on Pig Island,” said Jamie.
        “You must have dreamt it. We’re in Hawaii,” said Mrs. Pengelly.
        “But, but Katie and the crystal,” said Jamie.
        “Oh, Jamie, come on, it was just a dream,” said Mrs. Pengelly.
        Jamie stood up and followed her family out the door. She looked to her right and smiled. Standing there
were Katie and Elvis, each holding half of the crystal. Jamie waved and went to tell her mom but stopped when
she saw Katie shaking her head. Jamie remembered that Pig Island was a secret and continued walking with a
smile on her face.


                                                      Zwack-7
                                                 by Kaelan Samoranos

          Zwack-7 is a hot, dusty, boring planet. It still has features like earth but is in the orbit of two suns. Pandas
and ducks rule on Zwack-7 and are technically the people. They are mutated in a way that makes them advanced
enough to talk and build giant structures out of low amounts of material. But for them to survive, they rely on the
vast river that flows through the whole planet.
          King Pandy, with his son Pandathan, takes care of their rich planet. While the people of Zwack-7 are kept
in order by the strict laws and many departments of Labor and Enforcement, soon King Pandy’s rule over the
planet would be terminated in two earth weeks. Then the start of Pandathan’s rule would begin, but first he had to
finish the tests and trials in the course of two earth weeks. Yet it took at least three weeks to finish up the tests and
trials. Otherwise, ducks would rule Zwack-7 and turn the planet into a barren wasteland.
          Sadly, another candidate, a duck named Duck, wanted to turn Zwack-7 into a big slave marketplace, yet
he hid this idea with his snappy mottos like “You won’t see it coming,” or “There will be increased sales of
undisclosed products.” Worst of all, Duck was the mentor of the test and trials in Zwack-7 and had control over
who passed the test. For Duck’s plan to work, Pandathan needed to fail. In order to pass, Pandathan needed a 4.0
GPA for the two weeks in order to prove that he deserved to be the ruler of Zwack-7.
          Later at school, Pandathan passed the first test but needed to start the endurance test featuring swimming.
Pandathan couldn’t swim for beans; this was the first time Pandathan had ever been in the water. He freaked out
and went berserk, then planted a military-strength cherry bomb in Duck’s pants, blasting Duck through the roof
and smashing his beak against the hood of his hover-car.
          Later that day, Pandathan and his Father, Pandy, went to the emergency room to visit Duck. The doctor
explained to Pandy that Duck had a fractured hip and arm plus internal bleeding. He also had a smashed beak, and
worst of all, he was in a coma. Pandathan remembered that it was he who had nearly killed Duck. Duck later came
out of the coma and testified against Pandathan. All the evidence concluded that Pandathan was the homicidal
maniac that Duck described.
          In the supreme judging offices, Pandathan had to be either sentenced to death or to spend his life in a
correctional facility. Duck said that Pandathan’s only redeeming grace was that he got a 4.0 GPA in the tests and
trials, but he wouldn’t need it.
          Later in the correctional facility, Pandathan met his cellmate. He was a pyromaniac who claimed to be in
jail because he ate a panda. They shared their stories; Pandathan learned that the pyromaniac was named Catua,
and he was a friendly guy just crossing a river.
          Then a deep voice called out and explained, “Hey, Pandathan or something like that, it’s time!”
                                                                                                                108

         “No! I’m too young to die! Duck deserves this!” shouted Pandathan.
         “You’re not going to die. We’re setting you free because Duck really turned out to be a slave merchant
and killed and sold pandas,” interrupted the warden.
         “Really?” asked Pandathan.
         “Yes, and we’re setting you free because you just dispensed some good old-fashioned justice,” said the
warden,
         Pandathan took his grading sheet, got approved by the Zwack-7 department of the planet, and became the
next king of Zwack-7. Duck got executed publicly. Pandathan ruled with agreeable laws and kept Zwack-7 in
peace. Their strong military and cultural expansions led to great things happening on the planet Zwack-7. All
ducks who wanted to conspire against pandas would be exiled from the planet.


                                                  Traveling Back
                                                   by Kara Hom

         The bright and sunny Autumn morning in Trinton Lake didn’t make Molly all that happy. Now who gets
to take the dog out? Molly thought, Lucky, lucky me. Then at that exact moment, a sharp, high-pitched whine
crossed into Molly’s bedroom. It was her dog, Oreo.
         “Could you please take the dog out, Molly,” buzzed the intercom, “it’s your turn.”
         “Sure, I’ll get right on it, Mother,” Molly whined back with as little enthusiasm as possible. When she
rolled out of her lilac canopy bed, she got a glimpse of her new digital clock. 8:30? Molly thought as she fell onto
the floor. Great, I only got six and a half hours of sleep!
         On the floor, Molly looked around at her newly decorated lavender-colored room. Pictures neatly hung on
the light purple walls, books stacked on the white shelves, and a full-length mirror hung on the wall opposite her
shelves.
         “Even though I have two butlers and a maid, I still have to take the dog out!” Molly muttered to herself.
Slowly, Molly got ready. She put on her new white cashmere robe to take the dog out. In the next room, she could
hear the loud, uneven snores of her obnoxious brother.
         After the dog went out, Molly quietly went to her room and started texting her best friends with her new
touch-screen phone.
         Molly: OMG, my mom made me take Oreo out, SO tired!!!
         Claire: good thng 2 cause I was up but ddnt wnt 2 wk u
         Sydney: shhh, syd’s sleepn
         Lilly: yeah, lil 2 g2g
         After a conversation with Claire about the new Teen Pop magazine, she quietly crept downstairs to her
personal “fun” room. The room had four baby-pink bean bags, a 48-inch flat screen TV with surround sound, and
a table for chips and dip.
         “Would you like anything, Ms. Kirshabalm?” a low voice asked. Startled, Molly quickly turned around,
but it was just Alvin, her butler.
         “Yes. Get me a decaf strawberry frappe, blended thoroughly with extra whipped cream, and hurry! Oh,
also, get me one of those pastries with the low fat cream.” Molly barked.
         By 11:30 am, all of her friends were ready to go to the mall for their monthly shopping spree. She reached
for her phone to call the girls.
         “Hey, gals! You ready?” Molly said between sips of her drink. “I’ll have Ian pick you up.”
         Once everyone was picked up, Ian, the chauffeur, drove them all to the biggest mall in Trinton Lake.
Molly was the first to step out of the car. She was wearing her new purple Juicy jacket, white Calvin Klein baby-
doll shirt and Lucky Brand jeans. I’m the most beautiful of all here, Molly thought. My straight brown hair totally
compliments my green eyes, and I’m a wonderful actress too!
         Next out of the car was Lily. She was wearing a baby-pink mini-skirt. Her long, blonde hair was blowing
in the autumn wind, and her blue eyes were sparkling because she was finally free of her punishment for sneaking
out. Inside the mall, the foursome hit practically every store, spending hundreds of dollars on every one of the
designer brands in the shopping center for the upcoming prom. Then they all stopped at a store that was unknown
to the entire group.
                                                                                                                  109

          “What is this store? I know every store known to this mall, but I’ve never seen this one. I mean,
usually they put up a sign saying what the store is,” stated Sydney.
          “Yeah, I believe you, Syd. You go shopping practically every day!” Molly happily said. “It looks pretty
fancy; I think we should go in.” They entered the mystery shop. It was filled with the most beautiful dresses, tops,
bottoms, and accessories. The four girls gazed in amazement at all of the stunning clothes around them. Sydney
reached out to touch the soft light-blue, silky scarf that would soon be hers.
          “This is too good to be true! I think I’m dreaming,” Sydney said absentmindedly. All the girls took at
least fifteen things each. One by one, each girl whipped out their own credit cards that they got from Lily’s 16th
birthday. After Claire was done checking out, she noticed something strange.
          “Hey, guys, has it every occurred to you that we’re the only ones here?” she asked questioningly. None of
the other girls answered, so Claire just shook the feeling off. After spending a total of $3,596.31 on that one store,
the group started to walk out, but before they left, the shop clerk stopped them.
          “Hello, Molly, Sydney, Claire, and Lily,” the old man said in a calm tone. The girls stared at each other
and exchanged glances that read, How does this guy know our names?
          “Do you need anything else?” he asked. Lily nodded “no” with a quick shake of her head. Then she tried
to push the old man over so she could escape, but his body held firm. Whoa, is he made of rock, Lily thought.
          “Are you sure there’s nothing else?” Then all of the sudden, the lights went out, the doors shut, and a
huge gust of wind blew across the whole room. One at a time, each of the girls closed their eyes. Once Claire
closed her eyes, the wind stopped. Lily then opened her eyes. They were no longer in a shop but in an old ghost
town.
          “Eek!” Lily happily squealed. “We’re in an old-fashioned movie! Nobody told me! Thanks you, guys, this
is the best early birthday present ever!”
          “No, Lily, we’re not in a movie. If we were, only I would be here. I’m the only one with acting
experience,” Molly bragged.
          “Whoa, you guys,” Claire said. “Look at that sign. It says Welcome to Yee Old Trinton! This is really
freaky. I think we got transported back in time.”
          “Just look at these dresses! Ew, this cotton orange brown dress is so ugly, and it makes me look fat,” Lily
shrieked in horror.
          “Where are my shopping bags? I’m going to start crying without my bags,” Sydney screamed.
          “Come on, girls, we can rough it. I’ve been camping a million times, not only in my cabin, but in a tent,”
Claire proudly said.
     Everyone was talking at once. Lily was saying how ugly the dresses were. Claire was giving a pep talk, and
Sydney was complaining how she desperately needed her shopping bags. Everyone was talking except Molly. She
was staring at something, or someone. Claire noticed that Molly was staring and motioned Lily and Sydney.
          “Oh, Molly, who’s the hunk?” Lily whispered.
          “Back off, Lily. He’s mine. Anyway, I saw him first,” Molly whispered back. Oh, my gosh! Molly
thought. He is just gorgeous. That dirty blonde hair would look great next to mine. Just look at his beautiful blue
eyes, they are so mysterious!
          “Hey there, girls. You must be new here,” the boy said in a thick, country accent. “Let me introduce
myself. I’m Jesse Nielson. And you are?”
          Molly was too dumbstruck to speak. Claire noticed that, so she talked for her.
          “Hi, Jesse. I’m Claire, this is Sydney and Lily,” she paused for a dramatic effect, “and this is Molly.”
          Jesse then shook every one of the girls’ hands. Then when he got to Molly, he lifted her hand and kissed
it. “It’s a pleasure to meet you Molly.”
          Molly snapped out of her trance and answered the gentleman across from her. Molly had three years of
dating experience, but it didn’t prepare her for this fellow.
          “Hi, um, I’m Molly,” Molly said nervously. Smooth she thought. IDIOT. Stupid, stupid, stupid Molly!
Why can’t you control your speech? “It’s very nice to meet you too,” Molly politely said. There was a moment of
silence . . . then Claire broke it.
          “Um, well, we walked over here from over there,” she pointed behind her with her nose, “and we got lost.
We lost all of our money to thieves.”
          “And we need a place to stay,” Molly chimed in.
          “Okay, well you’re in luck! My aunt is the innkeeper. Just stay here, and I’ll arrange something,” Jesse
kindly offered.
                                                                                                                   110

         When he was out of hearing range, Claire told them how they probably wouldn’t be able to get out of
this place very soon and should try to get a place to stay.
         “It’s a good thing I can think on my feet!” Claire said enthusiastically.
    “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe my luck! He is just so gorgeous,” Molly shouted, “and he is mine, all mine! Did
you hear his accent? It is so dreamy!” The girls were circled into a tight ball that Molly called “the huddle”
because only they were allowed to hear it. When Jesse came back, he couldn’t find one little hole where he could
squeeze through to talk to them.
    “Excuse me, girls!” Jesse shouted. “Excuse me!” That got the girl’s attention. “Well, you can stay at my aunt’s
inn, but you have to work for it. Food will be provided to you as well as a nice place to rest your heads.”
         The four girls slowly undid their tight bundle and formed a semi-circled around Jesse, and of course,
Molly was in the middle.
         “Thank you so much, Jesse! You are such a savior,” Molly said as she tried to suck up.
         “Well, you’re welcome. Anything for you girls. Well, if you just follow me, I’ll escort you to the inn.”
         “I have to escape,” Sydney said. “This place is a deathtrap. No shopping? UGH, I’m going to die here!”
And with that, Sydney picked up her dress and started running away from town and towards the desert.
         “No, Syd, don’t go,” Molly said in a monotone voice. “Don’t worry,” Molly turned back towards the inn
and studied her fingers, “she won’t get far. Syd’s horrible at running, well not towards mall sales. Anyway, she’ll
probably run out of gas in the next minute or have her dress snag on a cactus.” And sure enough, Sydney stopped
running and turned back around. She saw that all of her friends were walking away without her. She lost interest
in her plan to run away and slowly walked back to them.
         When they finally got to the inn, Jesse’s aunt was waiting for them. What a weird-looking person. Ewww,
she has a lazy eye. Molly thought. And what’s that? Oh, even grosser, a wart! This person looks nothing like
Jesse! And she needs to lay off a few pounds.
         “Well howdy, girls! I’m Jesse’s aunt, Ms. Smuffins. I heard you gals got lost on your trip. You can stay
here, but you need to work to stay here, you know. So if you want your dinner, follow me. Over here, there are the
pigpens. What you have to do is fill their trough with food, and then water their mud flats. The water is over there
in the well. I’ll set up your beds. When you girls are done, come see me, and I’ll get you some thin’ to eat. You’ve
probably done this on your farm, right?” And with that, the innkeeper turned and left with many questions that
needed to be answered.
         “Well, come on, gals, we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Claire said in her best accent.
         What do you mean we’ve got a lot of work to do? Molly thought. Don’t you mean you’ve got a lot of work
to do?
         “Um, well, you see, I just can’t. I just got my nails done. Anyway, if I get mud in my hair, it will look like
I’m a dirty blonde, not a pure one!” Lily said frightfully.
         Then Molly and Sydney both chimed in agreeing with Lily. Oh what do I do? Molly thought. I haven’t
worked a day in my whole life! I just get Alvin to do it! Suddenly, Molly thought of a solution. Unexpectedly,
Molly sat down, crossed her arms, and made her face into a pout. This has to work! Whenever I doit to Daddy, he
gets me whatever I want!
         “Come on, people. It’s either we work, or we don’t eat. It’s your choice.” Then just to emphasize Claire’s
statement, Sydney’s stomach began to grumble.
         “Fine,” Sydney said in an unpleased tone, “I guess I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do.” Seeing Sydney and
Claire work, Lily suddenly felt left out, and Lily never got left out of anything.
         “Um, well, I’m really hungry, too, see?” and Lily made a fake grumbling sound that sounded more like a
fart than a grumble. Sydney and Claire looked at each other thinking the same thing – Lily wants to work?
         “Okay,” Claire happily said, “here’s a bucket. Go fill it up with water, and then give it to me.”
         Molly still sat on the floor. Her frown was disappearing into wonder, then to disgust. Just look at them!
Molly thought. Working. Ha! I’ve never worked a day in my life. Well, photo shoots don’t count, but I don’t want
to start now. Anyway, just look at their manicures; they are going to waste! Working like this causes chipped
nails, dirty fingers, and it’s ba — oh I’m starving!
         “Fine, I’ll help,” Molly said, with her frown still planted firmly on her face. This time Claire and Sydney
were even more shocked. Molly and work didn’t go together. Even when she was three, she didn’t have to lift a
finger, both Sydney and Claire thought. Finally after feeding and watering five pig troughs, all four girls were
finished.
                                                                                                                 111

         “Howdy, girls! That took a while, didn’t it? Well, your hard work is rewarded. Here’s your feast.” Ms.
Smuffins pointed to a few biscuits, backed beans, and a pot of stew. This was a snack compared to what Molly’s
butler cooked. Instead of being picky and eating with good manners, the girls dug into their food like they hadn’t
eaten in years.
         After dinner, there was nothing left on the dinner table besides a stick of butter, which the girls called
“death on a stick.”
         “Wow, you gals sure can eat! Just follow me up these here stairs,” Ms. Smuffins said. “Lily and Molly,
you are sharing a room, and Sydney and Claire are sharing a room.” The rooms were very small. They fit only
two beds, a bedside table and an itchy, multicolored rug.
         “What? No complimentary toothbrushes or hairbrushes? This place has horrible hygiene,” Molly
complained once Ms. Smuffins walked downstairs. “I should totally report this to the health inspector. Don’t you
agree, Lily? Lily?” Lily was off in her own world, dancing and singing to classical music.
         “La la la la,” Lily sang. Nice choice, Lil, Beethoven’s Fifth, very nice, Molly thought.
          “Sydney, Claire, it’s 9:00. Lily’s in her mode right now. Do you want to come over and gossip?” Molly
asked. Sydney and Claire immediately came over without an answer. Then Molly walked up to Lily and clapped
her hands. It snapped Lily out of her mode. “Hey, Lil, do you want to gossip with us? Even though we’re back in
time, we can still gossip about the present.”
         “What a dump! Don’t you think, girls?” Molly asked. The four girls gossiped until one in the morning,
then finally left. Everyone fell asleep easily because the hard work had finally got to them.
         “Up! Common, girls, it’s already six o’clock,” Ms. Smuffins said. “Those beds aren’t going to make
themselves!”
         “Alvin, Alvin,” Molly called out with her eyes still shut, “get my bathrobe now! I’m freezing! Alvin!
Alvin? Where are you?” Finally, Molly opened her eyes. Oh great. I’m still in the Wild, Wild West!
         Slowly but surely, each one of the girls got up and made their beds. All of them found at least four
different complaints. Then they followed the innkeeper down, one by one, to the dining room for their next meal.
By the time they got down, the food was cold, and the girls had even more objections.
         “Well, I’m sorry it’s cold. If you had come down sooner, you could have eaten warm food. Anyway, I
can’t just put your food in a metal box for a spin that would make it warm again! No, sirree, only magic could do
that.” After the cold meal, Ms. Smuffins led the girls outside for their chores. That day’s chore was milking the
cow.
         “Ok, this is worse than camping,” Claire complained once Ms. Smuffins was out of hearing distance.
Again, slowly but surely, they completed the chore.
         “UHHHHH, I hate these chores,” Lily said, “At home, my butlers usually do mine, and I get all the
credit!”
         “I need my phone. I want my laptop, and I need a working toilet, not this port-a-potty!” Molly
complained with a shriek. After the chores, surprisingly the four girls had a whole day off.
         “So what do we do now?” Lily asked.
         “Well, first off, I’m going to see Jesse. I feel like I haven’t seen him in ages!” Molly replied.
         “I’m going to explore! Haven’t been this free since Mom and Dad went to Paris for the month,” Claire
said excitingly. The two girls then left their other friends to fend for themselves.
         “Uh, Syd, why did they leave?” Lily asked.
         “Because they have better things to do. Oh, I know what we can do! We can go to town and make fun of
this century’s clothing!”
         Finally, all four girls returned to the inn to do their nightly tasks, this time without complaint.
         “Wow, you gals have done a mighty fine job! I think I’ll reward y’all with a few coin pieces. You can
spend it at the candy shop. The man working there is nice and mighty fine!” Ms. Smuffins said encouragingly.
         After dinner, all four girls went to the candy shop. The sign read: THE CANDY SHOPPE, Home to
Trinton’s finest candy!
         The girls walked in one by one, Molly leading and Lily bringing up the rear. Wonderful candy lined the
walls of the small shop. All four girls looked at the candy like it was the most beautiful piece of jewelry.
         “Hello, Molly, Claire, Lily, and Sydney. It’s nice to see you again,” the man said, “It looks like you have
no trouble surviving on your own.”
         “Oh no,” Claire whispered, “it’s the guy from the present who transported us here! Maybe he’ll put us
back in time to the dino age!”
                                                                                                                     112

        Then a gust of wind swirled around and around the scared foursome. When they all opened their eyes,
there were back in the mall with the same shopping bags in their hands. There was something different about
them, but they didn’t know what. Then the girls went home, but something had changed within them, a deep
appreciation for what they had.


                                                      Fairy Tale
                                                by Kathryn Firstenberg

         Wow, Bridget is so pretty. Uh oh, no! Splash! I had just spilled my juice box all over the toughest eighth
grader in the school. I had a feeling that he was not too happy to see me, and I had a feeling that I was going to
need to run. I sprinted to my first period class. It was math. My teacher looked pretty nice. Her name was Mrs.
Parks. She had blond hair and was very pretty. She looked like she was only around twenty-eight. She welcomed
me I warmly; maybe this year wouldn’t be so bad after all.
         Math had always been my strong subject, so the class went pretty well. My next class was core. Her name
was Miss Patterson, and unlike my math teacher, she looked like she was around the age of eighty. Miss Patterson
was a bitter old woman. She had short gray-blond hair and was very plump. She looked a lot like an ice cream
cone to me. Her head was tiny like a cherry. Her body was round like the ice cream, and her legs were thin and
curved like the cone.
         After lunch, I headed off to my next class. I tripped, and all my books fell on Bridgett.
         “Shoot. I am so sorry,” I said.
         “Oh, it’s fine. Here, let me help you. So, I haven’t really seen you around.”
         “Oh, I am new here. I just arrived here from Boston.”
         “Cool. Well, bye then.”
         Erg, Jimmy you are such a loser.
         After school, I went to the public library. I looked around for a while. I loved fantasy books, so I decided
to check out that section first. I found a huge book full of fairy tales. It looked pretty interesting. I flipped it open
to the story Snow White. Whoosh! I was lying on the forest floor.
         “Where am I?” Then I thought I heard screaming and pleading. I got up and looked to where the noise
was coming from. I saw a man with an axe and a girl who was pleading for her life. I stepped in immediately.
         “Wait, stop. Don’t do that.”
         “And why not?”
         “Because you will hurt her. Here, lady, come with me.” I looked over at her face, and immediately I
said, “You’re Snow White.”
         “Yes, and who are you?”
         “I am Jimmy. How did I get here?”
         Snow White and I spent some time together. Of course, when the evil queen came to give her the
poisonous apple, I did not interfere for fear of what might happen if I did. I checked my watch and noticed that it
was getting pretty late.
         “So how do I get out of here?”
         As soon as I said those words, a scroll appeared floating in midair. It opened up and read aloud, “If you
wish to return home, clap three times and take two bunny hops forward.”
         “Well thanks,” I said. Then, poof, I was in the library again. I grabbed all my stuff and the book and raced
home.
         When I arrived home, my family was just about to sit down for dinner. We ate dinner pretty quietly, and I
ate very fast so I could get back to my book.
          After dinner, I went straight to my room to look at the book some more. I flipped open the book so fast
that I didn’t even know what story I had gone into, but once I was in the story, I knew exactly which one it was. I
had stumbled into the story Beauty and the Beast. I watched the story from a distance, and I almost fell asleep. I
checked my watch. It was 12:30, so I clapped my hands three times and took two bunny hops forward and…
nothing happened, so I decided that I would try again. I clapped my hands three times and took two bunny hops
forward. It didn’t work again, and I knew this wasn’t going to be good.
         The next thing I decided to do was to ask for help. I barged in through the castle doors. The beast came at
me rapidly.
                                                                                                                  113

         “Wait! Stop!” I yelled. The beast unwillingly paused.
         “What do you want?” he groaned.
         “I need help getting out of here.”
         “Well, that is going to be a little hard.”
         “And why is that?”
         “Because when the clock strikes twelve, whoever is in here is stuck here; and you only have forty-eight
hours left before you transform into a Beauty and the Beast character forever.”
         As you would think, I was very nervous. I mean, who wouldn’t be if they were just told that they would
be in a storybook forever and that they only had forty-eight hours before they were turned into a character.
         I fell asleep on the castle’s staircase. When I awoke, I thought that someone would find me in the story. I
felt the book moving, and about five minutes later, there was a big kerplunk. I sat there for a while until I heard
the ending bell for school. Then the book started to move again, and we landed on something cushiony. The book
opened to our story. It was Jeremy, my best friend. I yelled to him through the book. He looked around, and I
yelled to him again,
         “No! Down here!”
         I could tell he was very surprised from the look on his face.
         “How, how did you get in there?”
         “It doesn’t matter right now. Just get me out of here.”
         “Well, how do I do that?”
         “I guess the only way is to break the book in two.”
         “Okay.”
         He did as I said, and, poof, I was out, as were all the rest of the characters. They all sneaked out the back
door that night. Jeremy and I both watched as the book burned to a crisp in his fireplace, and no one, not a soul,
heard of that book again.


                                       A Story of Spite, Shrinking, and Twins
                                                  by Konnie Guo

         Sandy and Kelp were identical twins, but their personalities were completely different. While Sandy’s
eyes shone with a genuine mark of innocence, Kelp spoke only to scold and sneer, brimming with schemes and
taunts. As Sandy glowed with a love of life, her sister made it clear that she just wanted each day to pass. Both
twins had long, wavy, brown hair and deep blue eyes, but Kelp wore wire-framed glasses and was half a
centimeter shorter than her sister. Sandy was born one minute earlier than Kelp, too. They had the telepathy link
that most twins have, but Kelp never used it. Sandy was almost always surrounded by a group of friends, while
Kelp stood alone. Kelp was solitary and unforgiving until one fateful day in April.
         It all started when Sandy tried to coax her twin to laugh. Kelp just scowled and then fixed her sister with
an icy glare.
         “Come on,” pleaded Sandy. “Just one smile!”
         Silently, Kelp turned around, her hair swishing behind her, spitefully thinking, “If only Sandy was as
small as an ant, I could squash her like the pest she is!”
         This idea led to Kelp tiptoeing into her mother’s chemical room, where her mother, a chemist/scientist,
stored her supplies. The door was covered in big red signs screaming, “Danger!” and “Warning-Hazardous
Materials,” with other precautions. Kelp ignored these and marched in, grabbed a few ingredients, and sprinted
back, nervously checking behind her to see if anyone was watching. Nobody was, so when Kelp reached the
safety of her room, she locked it and, to be safe, barred it with a large chair. Finally, with much experimenting
and lots of patience, Kelp ended up with two vials of clear, odorless liquid. She carefully placed one of the vials
on her desk; she dumped the other vial’s liquid into Sandy’s water bottle. The liquid was supposed to shrink a
person to the size of an ant. Because Kelp was so fed up with Sandy, she actually made something to shrink her.
         “Phew,” said Kelp out loud, her dry lips cracking painfully and oozing out blood. “I need a break from
my hard work.” She reached to her desk for a flask of water, her fingers closing on a small glass vial, and tipped
the contents in her mouth…
         Coincidentally, at the same time, Sandy was feeling quite thirsty after she just came home from an intense
game of soccer, so she took out her water bottle and drank deeply…
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         The effects were instantaneous. Both girls immediately started shrinking until they were about two
inches tall. It turned out that Kelp had not made the potion potent enough to shrink a person to the size of an ant,
so the girls did not shrink to the expected size. Luckily, their clothes shrank with them.
         Sandy, who had no idea what was happening, was confused. What had occurred? All she had done was
drink out of her water bottle! Nervously she looked around. Everything had grown huge beyond comparison!
Everything still had its place in the house, but now Sandy had no place in her own home. Then, a big, black
monster suddenly appeared. It was hairy, with several legs and eyes all over its body. Then it noticed Sandy and
with its pincers clacking and dripping venom, lunged at her.
         “This is it,” thought Sandy, “but I’m too young to die, though perhaps I’m dreaming.” With that thought,
Sandy tried her best to wake up, but to no avail. As her dream progressed, Sandy watched in disbelief as her
sister, Kelp, appeared from nowhere and threw herself at the arachnid’s back, ripping up tufts of fur and poking
its many eyes. The indignant spider threw off Kelp and came closer and closer to her now motionless body.
         Just as Sandy was about to close her eyes so she would not see Kelp’s demise, the spider abruptly
skittered away. When she was wondering what just happened, Sandy felt a huge earthquake that caused her to fall
on the ground. A loud stomping noise echoed off the walls, causing Sandy’s ears to ache. She looked up, but the
figure that was causing the noise was too tall and huge, so Sandy could only see up to what seemed to be the
giant’s ankles. Then Sandy recognized those blue-and-yellow sandals as her mother’s! Sandy’s mother had saved
her daughters’ lives by simply walking down the hall.
         Kelp, who was still lying on the ground, probably paralyzed by the spider’s venom, suddenly stirred.
Sandy rushed over to her side and gently helped her sit up. When Kelp had recovered from her fall sufficiently,
she sadly told Sandy how her anger, foolishness, and spite had caused them both to shrink. Kelp also sheepishly
admitted that she had drunk her own potion, thinking it was a flask of water. Of course, Sandy forgave Kelp
because she believed that holding grudges wouldn’t help their situation, but now they had to solve the problem of
their size.
“Let’s first try to tell Mom what happened!” suggested Sandy. “Then she can make a potion to grow us back to
our original size!”
         “All right,” said Kelp. “Let’s go for it.”
         The two girls yelled as loudly as they could for their mom, but their voices were too high-pitched and the
twins themselves were too small to make a significant difference. Even Sandy’s normally large lung capacity
couldn’t help her shout louder than a shrill noise. Coral, their mother, only heard a squeaky whine, which she
believed to be a pesky mosquito. To their dismay, the twins saw no reaction from Coral, and decided that it was
time for Plan B, once they decided what the plan was going to be.
         “We should go into the potion room and make ourselves the antidote,” supplied Kelp.
         Sandy agreed, and they were soon running as fast as their tiny feet could carry them. As they finally
arrived at the door with the huge signs, the twins were panting and exhausted. They crawled between the crack of
the door and the floor, quite unprepared for how large the small storage room was compared to their own
miniscule figures. The twins realized that they couldn’t even get to the ingredients, let alone use them to make an
antidote.
         Sandy and Kelp both proclaimed this plan as a failure, too. The girls were about to give up and just accept
the fact that they were going to be as small as mice for the rest of their lives, when Sandy exclaimed, “I have an
idea! Kelp, can you give me a boost? I want to try to get to Mom’s pre-made potions and antidotes cabinet in her
office! She might have the antidote there!”
         The sisters realized that this plan was more or less fool-proof and quickly put it into action.
As Sandy was clambering over to the top of a ledge in front of the cabinet, she suddenly exclaimed, “Kelp, it
would be so wonderful if you could let me talk to you through our telepathy link again! Then we wouldn’t make
our throats sore by shouting to each other!”
         Hesitantly, Kelp agreed and gently let her brain grasp the shriveled, empty, link that was located
somewhere in the back of her head. She filled it with sparkling life, taking her thoughts into it to meet Sandy’s
ideas in the middle of the line.
“Much better,” said Sandy in her mind. “I almost had the impression that the link would be dried up forever.”
         Kelp replied through the link, “This way of communication makes me feel so happy. I wonder why I
didn’t use it before. Anyway, let’s just get back to work.”
         With that statement, the twins went back to work. Kelp realized something, and she told Sandy that they
needed a lever of some kind if they wanted to open the cabinet because the handle was too large for them to open.
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Since Kelp was still on the ground after giving Sandy a boost, she went and found a stubby pencil and carried
it back with some difficulty. Then Kelp raised the pencil high while Sandy took hold of the eraser end and
dragged it onto the ledge beside her. Sandy used the “lever” to pry open the door of the cabinet, and after
scanning through several jars and bottles, she found a jar labeled, “Shrink Potion Antidote-3 drops,” which Sandy
carefully lowered down where Kelp was waiting.
         As she saw Kelp struggle to unscrew the lid, Sandy quickly jumped down from the ledge and helped her
sister remove the lid. The antidote was a pale blue-green color and smelled like lilies. They each carefully took
three drops of the fragrant but bitter-tasting antidote, then they immediately started growing until they reached
their normal size. To Kelp’s disappointment, she was still half a centimeter shorter than her sister. She watched as
Sandy carefully screwed the lid to the antidote back on, using her now normal sized hands, and put the jar in the
cabinet.
         Coral happened to walk into the room just that moment and exclaimed, “So that’s where you girls have
been hiding! I’ve been looking for you two all afternoon!”
         Sandy recounted the story, with Kelp occasionally adding details. However, their mother didn’t believe
them.
“You’ve taken a delusional potion,” Coral insisted. “As if you would shrink and meet a giant spider!”
         Whether it was because Kelp threw herself at the spider to save her sister or that Sandy persuaded Kelp to
open their telepathy link, Kelp and Sandy then became good sisters. Kelp realized her mistakes and grew
friendlier, with her spite disappearing until there was only a tiny grain left in her because spite can’t be totally
diminished, no matter how good a person becomes. Although Coral, and later their father, Poseidon, didn’t
believe them, the two girls kept the story of their little afternoon venture in their hearts, and they were good to
each other for as long as they lived, communicating from long distances with their telepathy link. After their epic
adventure, the girls joyfully kept each other company until the day they both peacefully died in the same hour,
minute, and second.


                                                     Why Me?
                                                 by Madeline Bates

         There I was again, stuffed in a locker by the big, old, mean, girly, eighth graders. They stuffed me in a
P.E. locker that was pale blue and smelled like dirty sweat socks that have been in a boy’s locker room for weeks,
but they probably wanted me to die with that smell and then find me weeks later. Who knows?
         It was the first day of school, and I was stuffed in a locker again. It had happened every year since I
started middle school. I had been trying to get away for years but they just found me every time.
         After about two bells, the janitor found me in there, so he tried to find the code for the locker. This took
him twelve hours to find, but he got it anyway. After that, I ran to my next class and was late of, course. I was so
nervous about what to say to my other teachers that I missed class. I had no idea what to tell them.
         Lunch finally came, but there was no sign of the eighth graders. That meant that they were getting their
food, and that would take a long time because they ate so much. That meant that I had about fifteen minutes of
lunch until had to hide and run. So there I was, eating lunch in peace. I could see everything in sight. Just in case
the eighth graders came, I would have a head start. I decided to sit up against a tree where there was a nice grassy
area. I started to eat my homemade sandwich, but then I heard a sudden sound. I thought I heard them coming. I
did not know what to do. I leaned up against that tree and waited. It seemed that I was leaning so far back on the
tree that I was falling into it. I tried to grab on, but my hands went right through.
         After my screaming had ended, I found myself on a floor. It was a black floor with a hundred doors
staring at me like I had done something wrong. I didn’t think I had done anything wrong. I have always been a
good girl. Then a voice came. It told me that I had to read a note on the wall. So I did, and it said, “If you open
any door, you will lead yourself into happiness, sadness, and madness.” So I did what every other curious girl
would do. I opened the doors, but not one door opened. All the doors had brick walls behind them. I was
confused.
         I heard the voice again, and it said, “Go back to the note.” Now it said, “Stand in the middle of the room
and wait.”
         So that is what I did. I waited. In a split second, I was standing on nothing. It was as clear as a piece of
glass that was swept up by the ocean, smooth and shiny. I tried to walk, and I could; so I walked all the way to the
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closest door I could find. I found something in it. I was so excited that I went to every door I could find. Then
there it was, the door I was going to start my journey on. That was the door that had all different things in it,
things only girls could find interesting.
         At that time, I decided to go through the door. I waited. I noticed that I was dizzy, but I did not care much
because I was so excited. I looked around and was very surprised. I never thought that I would get sucked inside a
tree one day and find an interesting room. I touched everything I could see and everything that was able to be
touched. Some things were in the air, and others were so far down to the ground that I needed to take stairs to get
to them. So I went down a staircase that was gold with a nice pattern that was, in fact, a picture of things that
happened to me in the past years. There were a billion things down those stairs, and all of them had to do with me
and things that had happened in my life. I looked over some stuff and found a door that led to somewhere. I
opened it, and I was back in the dark, black, glass room.
         The first thing I did was to go to the note. I expected to see something different on it, but there was
nothing. There was not even the little plate that the notes had been on, and it got me scared. “There must be
someone else down here with me,” I thought in my head. I looked around for about one or two minutes, and there
was no one. There was just the black, glass room I had fallen into.
         When I thought those words in my head, I looked up, and there was a ladder half way up, which was
about a mile up. I looked closely, and there was someone coming down it, so I quickly hid and waited until he
came down, and I tried to be quiet.
         He looked around to see if anybody was watching. Thank goodness he did not see me. Then he did a
secret code to a trap door that led him to a place he wanted to go. So did I, so I quickly ran over and jumped in the
trap door and slid down a slide. I could see the person in front of me but hoped he could not see me because if he
did, I would be dead, like really dead. He had a gun in his pants. When I was sliding, I was wondering what time
it was back home.
         I looked over his shoulder, and there was a light, no, more than a light. There was a door, and there were
people in the room talking and saying stuff. “There is someone inside the tree,” and “We need to find them and
get them out.”
         The conversation went on for about ten minutes. Then all was silent. I was looking. The guy in front of
me got out and went into the room. Everybody said, “hello,” and then went back to their conversation. When I
noticed I was going to fall out into the room, I quickly stopped and waited for something exciting. Then the
meeting was over, and they had gone back up the way I had gone, so they changed directions in the path. I did not
know what to do. I was thinking of climbing up before they noticed me. That sounded like a good idea, so I did it.
But when I was halfway there, they turned the trap door slide on. So I went all the way to the bottom again and
had no idea what to do then. I couldn’t go all the way back up there because the trap door was running down and
it would take me a long time for me just to take one step forward. Then the door opened again, and they saw me!!
         I quickly jumped out of the trap door and ran. Then I saw them all chasing me. I didn’t know what to do. I
thought of switching the control panel so the slide would go up at full speed and beat them to the top, which
sounded like a good idea, so I did it. I quickly went to the controls and got on the slide. I went as fast as I could to
the top, fell out of the trap door, and went into the other doors that were up there.
         I ran to hide behind a wall and waited. Then one man came into the room in which I was hiding. I did not
know what to do. He was looking everywhere for me, so I was pretty nervous. I tried to get out of that room, but
he saw me and started to run after me. The first thing I wanted to do was die, but I couldn’t. So I went to the first
door I saw, slammed it behind me, and fell to the ground.
         My eyes had been closed, and the door I opened and slammed behind me was gone. It had fallen away. I
did not know where I was because my eyes were closed, so I opened them. I was at school, the same time and
same place I had been when I fell into the tree. Everything was the same, and no one knew I was gone. I always
wonder if I will ever go back into the tree.


                                            The Challenging Chain Letter
                                                by Olivia Whittaker

        Amy pulled her MacBook off her desk onto her lounge-bed where she was lying and pressed the On
button. She curled up against her pink and yellow pillows that were scattered all over her bed. Her long blond hair
with perfect loose curls drowned in the massive heap of clothes that were sloppily thrown on her bed from the
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night before. She looked out her window at the cherry tree’s branches dropping effortlessly on her window
ledge. It was a beautiful spring day, and she desperately needed to email her best friend, Sophie, to find out why
Emma was so touchy at school today.
         “I mean, what was up with her?” Amy thought to herself as she typed in her username and password to
her Gmail homepage login. She looked around her room and felt a sudden breeze from the open window. Then
she looked at the framed pictures of her friends at sleep-away camp. They had stayed up for two nights straight to
sneak out and get the attention of the hot, older counselor. The ‘ding’ of new emails coming in awakened Amy
from her little stroll down memory lane.
         -hey amy!- popped up on her chat window.
         -hey sophie what’s up?- Amy responded typing quickly.
         - i mean with with em at school today?- Amy finished, hoping to get an answer.
         As she waited for a response, she checked the rest of her mail. Amy had eight new messages.
         “I must be very loved to have been emailed so many times since the last time I was on, twenty minutes
ago! My parents say that I am addicted! Never, maybe, sort of, a little bit, okay, fine, I am addicted to emailing.
Maybe I should sign-up for Emailers Anonymous, the EA. I’ll look into it.” Amy thought to herself.
         She clicked on a funny-looking email from her grandpa and laughed at a Mexican food love story. Her
understanding was that Rosalita loves Jorge, who loves Juanita, who has feelings for the chiseled nacho Thomas,
who loves Rosalita, and in the end they all live happily ever after.
         Amy typed, “LOL” to her grandpa, then checked the rest of her mail, mostly annoying chain mail from
Jenny. She had two more emails by the time she had checked all her other messages and found out about the
drama with Emma! One was from her grandpa asking what “LOL” meant.
         “Laugh out loud, grandpa,” she responded, laughing. He was so out of date.
         “Oh,” he answered quickly, “I thought it meant ‘little old lady,’ LOL!”
         The other email caught Amy’s attention quickly. The subject read, ‘If you don’t care about a dying child,
you have no heart!’
         “Aw!” Amy thought to herself, “How sad!”
         She double clicked on the message and began to read. What the heck? This wasn’t a letter about a child in
need; it was hundreds of thousands of 1s and 0s. She began to scroll up and down the never-ending message. The
light next to Amy’s bed blew out, and wind from the opened window made her shiver with fear. The beautiful
spring day was now a dark pit of danger outside her window sill. She grabbed her blue North Face jacket and
iPhone. She attempted to text Sophie, but it wasn’t working. Her parents weren’t home. She let out a small cry for
help. Suddenly, she was falling, down, down, down. She must have hit her head during the fall because almost
two hours later, according to her now working cell phone, she was in an endless room of white.
         “Hello?” Amy called, hoping to wake herself up from this tortured dream.
         There was no answer. Nothing but white stretched in front of her for miles. Confused and frightened, she
began to walk around and call out for help. Again, nothing.
         “Where am I?” Amy began asking herself. “Was this a dream, or a whole other world?”
         She had no idea which way was up and which way was down. She broke into a sprint, but where was she
going anyway?
         She stopped and sat down. “Where am I?” she repeated over and over again aloud. “Will I ever get out of
here?”
         A curl from her hair dropped down in front of her face. She moved it out of the way as tears began to roll
down her face.
         Then there was a scream. As Amy got up to listen, the sound grew closer and closer. Amy began to run
toward the sound of another living, breathing, human being. Then something was falling from the sky, or maybe it
was the ground. Suddenly, Amy saw the face of her best friend, Sophie, before she crushed her on the ground.
         “Ow!” Amy said. “You practically killed me.”
         “Well, you fell under me,” Sophie said, quickly defending herself. “How was I supposed to stop? You
saw me. I was falling about 100 miles per hour!”
         They hugged each other, and Amy explained everything to Sophie. Sophie just stared, confused, like she
had just had a practical joke played on her.
         “So, what’s up?” Sophie asked, clearly not sure what was going on.
         “Hello, Soph, do you not understand we are in a crisis situation?” Amy yelled.
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          “Well then,” Sophie said, taking offense. “I mean, what are we going to do? I mean, we are stuck in a
giant chain mail, and why did you send it to me in the first place?”
          “What?” Amy said, appalled. “I didn’t send you the email! I didn’t send it to anyone; I just read it, then
all of a sudden I was falling!”
          “Me too!” Sophie yelled, a little bit too loudly.
          “Maybe,” Amy started, “it sends the message to everyone in your contacts if you don’t send it on
yourself!”
          “That’s it!” Sophie said quickly.
          “What?” Amy asked curiously, not sure if she wanted to know the answer.
          “That means that if we don’t stop this quickly, then eventually everyone in the world will be trapped in
here!”
          “OMG!” Amy said, scared.
          “How will we ever get out? I mean no one is even here!” Sophie said, obviously thinking it through. Amy
could practically see the wheels turning in her best friend’s head.
          They both pondered the difficult task at hand, and after three hours, came up empty-handed, so they
decided to look around. What was there to see? White, white, and more white! They would split up, but then they
got scared and would come back to home base. Home base was Sophie’s light blue Juicy jacket, which was very
easy to find in a sea of white. They began to call for help, but no one came to their rescue. Both Sophie and Amy
were tired and hungry. It was almost two in the morning; they had been stuck in this terrible place for almost
twelve hours!
          “Our parents must be worried sick,” Amy put in as they sat down on the hard white floor.
          “Yeah, they probably have the cops looking everywhere for us,” Sophie agreed.
          Amy suggested that they should look around some more, and Sophie agreed, knowing that there was
nothing else to do. Amy thought about what they could do and decided that they needed to find out where
everybody else was. She thought and knew that Sophie wasn’t the only person in her contacts and that other
people must have gotten the message as well. Then she thought of her phone! She could turn on her Bluetooth
then find all the other phones near her. As soon as she did she found over a thousand phones!
          “Look Soph!” Amy exclaimed, excited to find that others were indeed near her. She showed her best
friend her helpful discovery, and they decided to find out where the other phones were because there had to be
people there as well.
          They ran together until their legs could no longer take another step. They sat down on the white ground
and wept together.
          After what seemed like hours, they decided to try again. This time, though, they walked slowly and
cautiously. Then out of nowhere, they were falling again. Sophie screamed to add dramatic effect, but Amy just
let herself fall easily; she didn’t want to fight it. Then both Amy and Sophie were caught in big, strong, muscular
arms. They looked up into the face of Zac Efron!!!
          “Ahhh!” both girls screamed, so excited to be in the arms of someone so hot.
          This was no time to get excited. Amy looked around at hundreds or maybe even thousands of faces. She
saw her friends, her family, neighbors and teachers. Also hundreds of others she didn’t know. Zac Efron put them
down next to the other sorrowful faces.
          Amy saw almost every single one of her friends but one! She couldn’t find Emma anywhere! She scanned
the room once, twice, even a third time. No Emma.
          Out of nowhere a voice said, “Hello, and welcome to this wonderful prison, you will stay here as long I
want you to.” The voice paused, obviously trying to scare us, “which is FOREVER!”
          An earsplitting, high-pitched scream rang throughout the room of prisoners. Some cried while others
slept, and others tried to ram down the walls.
          Amy’s friends and family hugged her, but she was too caught up in the horrifying situation. She knew the
voice that had announced the terrifying message over the loudspeaker. She knew that someone was missing; she
knew that Emma McValter was in her contact list.
          “Emma!” Amy called, not sure if she should be brave or scared.
          The loudspeaker let out another deafening screech, then answered, “Oh, Amy, so smart. You think that
you can be the hero!” Emma spit through her teeth. “Well, not today, because within three days, I will have the
whole world in my hands. I already have taken over Zac Efron’s mind, and I will do the same with all of yours!”
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         Then the top of the white ‘cage’ opened up, and Emma descended down the long curvy staircase.
Sophie nudged Amy and pointed to a small gold necklace that hung from Emma’s neck. A small key was strung
onto the golden chain. Amy looked at Sophie, and she looked back and winked slightly back at her.
         “Hey, Em,” Amy called cheerfully. Amy asked Emma about why she would ever even want to take over
the world.
         She smiled secretively then answered, “Well,” Emma started.
         Amy was not paying attention, though, because she was watching as her best friend slowly walked up the
staircase as Emma talked on and on.
         Sophie began to walk up behind Emma and get a good angle on her before she could pounce. Quickly,
she jumped on Emma’s back and tackled her to the ground. They rolled on the ground, both fighting for the
golden chain around Emma’s neck. At last after Sophie had gotten up with the golden chain in hand, she threw it
to Amy across the room. Before the small key had made its way to Amy, Zac had jumped up and grabbed it in one
very hot motion. Amy ran in full-on sprint until she reached him. She jumped on his back and brought him down,
while covering his eyes, and grabbed the small key with only seconds to spare until he was up again and chasing
her towards the lock that released everyone back to the real world. Zac lunged for Amy, but she dodged him and
stuck the key into the lock.
         As soon as she did, a huge hole was created in the middle of the room. Many people ran to get away and
jumped through the only escape exit. Amy and Sophie made a move to get through the crowd but remembered the
key. Amy needed to grab it before Emma could escape.
         “Go! Soph, save yourself!” Amy yelled across the room as Sophie stopped running.
         “No! I won’t leave you here to die!” Sophie called back. By this time almost all of the people were out,
and the hole was shrinking. Now only Amy, Sophie, Emma, and Zac Efron remained in the room.
         Emma jumped into the air, but Zac knocked her out of the way, and she landed on the ground. Zac looked
back at the two girls and said, “She doesn’t rule my mind. I just pretended to drink the poison so she would
believe me. Now, let’s go!”
         The two girls grabbed hands and jumped into the hole, which now was only the size of a small table, with
Zac close behind. They landed in a grassy field that Amy knew was in the real world. They hugged and began to
walk home.
         “Its good to be home!” Amy said and they all laughed together.



                                          The Secrets on Maple Avenue
                                                 by Paul Cane

         One regular Saturday afternoon during summer in Townsend, a New Jersey suburb, four kids found out
that a candy shop was coming into town. It was opening up on Maple Avenue. So of course, they all wanted to go
check it out. The kids’ names were Maddie, Jeffery, Megan, and Marc. On their way to the store, Megan asked all
of them what they thought the shop was going to be like. Jeff said that he wanted the shop to have all kinds of
candy! Marc and Maddie both agreed that they wanted it to have every single flavor of ice cream. Megan just
wanted a candy shop. This was the first time Townsend had a candy shop since these eleven-year-olds were born.
         It was 105 degrees outside, so everyone wanted ice cream. When Jeff pushed the sliding door to get in,
they all felt a rush of cool air flow by them. Obviously, others wanted ice cream too because the line was almost
backed up out the door. The shop had hundreds of flavors and many candies to choose from, too. Because the line
was so long, the kids had to wait awhile. Seconds seemed like minutes, and minutes seemed like hours.
         When the clerk at the front desk, Mrs. Jenkins, an older woman, asked them what they were all going to
have, they were overwhelmed. Megan went first.
         “I will have five chocolate strawberries, please,” Megan exclaimed.
         “I will have a chocolate surprise,” Marc said.
         Maddie said, “Chocolate Chip Brownie Fudge please.”
         Jeffery ordered a black cherry ice cream. Because of the temperature, no one wanted to leave the air
conditioned store. Eventually they did, and after about one minute outside in the heat, their ice cream and candies
started turning into soup!
         “Mine is delicious,” Megan yelled.
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         “Yes, this is the best ever,” they all agreed.
         While walking home, they all heard other people raving about and wanting more of Mrs. Jenkins’s
wonderful treats. Saying her shop was the best in the world wasn’t an opinion; it was a fact!
         “Let’s all meet up tomorrow at our place,” Jeff and Maddie said while Megan and Marc were walking
back the other way.
         “Cool, ten o’clock sharp,” Megan and Marc screamed.
         The next morning, all of the kids met at ten, just as planned. Megan and Marc were the first to speak.
         “We think something is wrong with the ice cream.”
         “Same with us. It felt like we had some sort of powers last night.”
         “Well, there is only one way to find out! Get more ice cream.”
         Everyone was up for that idea.
         “Hi, Mrs. Jenkins, we would like to get two chocolate strawberries, one truffle, a bag of crystals, and one
scoop of vanilla ice cream.”
         “Coming right up!” she said in a surly voice.
         “Thank you.”
         “Let’s walk to school and try them out. No one will be there on a Sunday,” Maddie exclaimed.
         At school, it was dead. Maddie was right. Absolutely no one was there. At least, that is what the four of
them suspected. Just in case a car drove by and thought that they looked suspicious, they went to the back of the
school, not the front. The two boys were going to taste the candy; the girls would be the look out.
         “Let’s go,” the boys shouted. They started trying all of the candy, but simply nothing happend. Candy
after candy, and absolutely nothing happened. When every single piece was gone, they gave up.
         “What were we thinking, guys? Candy cannot be magical.”
         On the way back home, they had to walk on Maple Avenue, so they took a peek into Mrs. Jenkins’s back
room.
         “Guys, come check this out. I always knew something was up with that Mrs. Jenkins,” Marc exclaimed
proudly. There were sparks flying everywhere, and Mrs. Jenkins was floating in mid air. They all noticed her
chanting something, but they couldn’t tell what it was.
         “Maybe she is a witch,” Jeffery said.
         “Let’s come back tomorrow night when the shop is closed and see what she is up to then,” Maddie
exclaimed.
         All of the kids had trouble falling asleep because of what they had seen hours before. When Megan was in
bed, she was thinking that Mrs. Jenkins was from a different planet because of what she saw. Marc, her twin
brother, was thinking that what they saw couldn’t be true. Maddie thought Mrs. J was a witch. Jeffery, her twin,
thought that what they saw was simply a dream, just a dream.
         Waking up to find that it was Monday morning didn’t make anyone in Townsend happy at all. Everyone
was disappointed that their relaxing weekend was over. While Jeffery, Maddie, Megan, and Marc were dying of
boredom in sixth grade math, they were all still curious about Mrs. Jenkins. Just thinking about what Mrs. J was
up to made them want to get out of school even faster. Luckily, it was seventh Period. Luckily, it was the end of a
long day.
         “Ring!” the bell screamed. Since they were all in middle school, Willow Intermediate, they didn’t have
one teacher; they had seven. All of their last classes were different from each other, so they met at the back of the
campus every single day.
         “Let’s go to our place and plan what we are going to say first,” Jeffery said.
         When they got to Maddie’s and his house, they instantly ran into Maddie’s room.
         “Ok, let’s think of a game plan. We leave my room in exactly seventeen minutes. Then we walk down
Oak, not Maple, because if we walk down Maple, she is sure to see us. If we walk down Oak, then we can look
through the back window. If we see something that isn’t right, then we report her.”
         While walking down Oak, Mark frantically whispered, “What if she sees us and then puts a spell on us?”
         “That would never happen,” the other three said. “If she comes close, then we run as fast as we can.”
         Now, they were tiptoeing down the alley connecting Maple with Oak. As they peered into the window, all
of the kids instantly said, “Where is she?”
         “I am right here, kids,” Mrs. Jenkins whispered. “Come into the shop so I can talk to you about what you
have been seeing me perform. You see, I am a witch. A good witch, though, not a bad one. I came to Townsend
because I don’t enjoy living if I have to harm people. My family believes in harming humans and making their
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lives miserable. I disagree about what they ask of me. That is why I came to Earth. I came to protect humans.
If I had just run away but stayed on my planet, then they could track me down with the satellite easily within
hours, but on Earth, the satellite doesn’t work; that is why I came. The only hint that I think they found when I left
is that I was going to be a candy shop owner. They also know that I make really good and special treats. If you
guys let my secret out, they can find me immediately through the news or police. Will you guys keep my secret?”
          “Sure, on one condition. You tell us how to access the magical part of the candy. If you don’t, we tell.
Deal or no deal?” they all whispered.
          “Fine. All you have to say is, Candy, candy come alive, by the time I count to five. One, two, three, four,
and five. That is all you have to do. Now get some candy and go. I have to make more ice cream, so come visit
tomorrow and tell me how it worked. Bye.”
          As they walked outside of the candy shop, little did any of them know that someone else was watching
them. The person who was watching him was Mr. Blueberry. His real last name was Blue, but he went by
Blueberry because he was a candy shop owner, and his favorite type of ice cream was blueberry. He was an old
man who owned a candy shop in the next town over. His candy wasn’t very good though.
          When Mrs. Jenkins came, his business went down, way down. Now, the only thing that he wanted was
Mrs. Jenkins’ secret formula. He was always spying on her. One day, Mrs. J did find out what he was trying to do,
so she gave him a fake formula as a trick. Of course, he had no idea that the formula was poison, so after he made
some, he fell asleep for twenty-two years. To get up after twenty two years seemed like a long time, but Mrs. J’s
family knew how to; it was a family secret.
          For the rest of the kids’ years until college in Townsend, they used the magical candy to solve their
problems. Every Sunday they would go to the store to stock up on more. After they all left for college, once a year
when they visited their families, they would always say hi to Mrs. Jenkins. Even after they died, she might have
still been running the shop. Remember, witches can’t die!


                                                      Knottlac
                                                  by Sydney Mays

         In the small town of Chalton, everything is perfect and serene. There are never any criminals on the loose
or unrecycled cans. That was the problem; nothing ever happened. Most people liked it that way, but not Clay and
Ashlyn. They had their own idea for this city. The Mayor, Mr. Royam, rejected any idea that was even thought to
make the city more interesting and exciting, especially Ashlyn and Clay’s. Eventually they all gave up. From now
until they went to college, their lives would be a total bore. That was until this week…
                                                          ***
         Ashlyn’s long, curly, brown hair covered her hazel eyes as she attempted to do a triple flip on her
trampoline. Fail, she thought to herself. Ashlyn was wearing a white tank top and purple shorts that looked good
with her tan complection.
         “Ash!” Clay hollered as he walked down the mossy steps to Ashlyn’s backyard.
         Steven, Steven, Steven, xoxo, was all Ashlyn could think about while Clay went on and on about some
geometry contest he entered. Even though Clay was annoying, Ashlyn loved the caring tone in his voice. It was
hard to pay attention to what Clay was saying when you were looking at his crazy blonde hair and perfect blue
eyes.
         “Ash, Ashlyn? Are listening to me?” Clay seemed annoyed.
         “Huh, Huh, what, what do you want?!’’ Ashlyn could tell she had hurt Clay’s feelings by not listening,
again.
         “Well?” Clay asked.
         Ashlyn looked blank.
         “What do you think about calling my team for the geometry contest the Geo Wizards? OH, and our
slogan would be…BACK OFF GEO MONSTERS!” Clay was way too excited.
          “That, that uh sounds cool, Clay.”
                                                          ***
         Ashlyn had a major crush on Steven Belmont, but he had never talked her once in his whole life. Well,
actually there was that time when they bumped into each other on the hallway at school, and he was all, “Hey
                                                                                                               122

watch it,” and she was all, Oh, sorry.” Wow! Ashlyn loved to think about her and Steven’s acquaintances;
they were just magical, Ashlyn thought to her.
         Today Ashlyn was going to go up to Steven and say, “Hi! I am Ashlyn. Okay, bye!” No, that is a little
too…uninteresting. How about this, “Hi.” Yes! That was perfect
         Well, here it goes… As Ashlyn was passing the corner, she noticed that Steven was hanging out with his
popular friends and Ashlyn’s enemy, Cara Hom. Cara also had a major crush on Steven, but she was way more
relaxed around him than Ashlyn. Ashlyn started to walk toward him.
         “Hi,” said Ashlyn, shaking with fear.
         “Uh… what is a geek doing talking to me?”
         Ashlyn had never realized how stuck up and just AHH he was.
         “Well, it was a dare. Why would I want to talk to you in my WHOLE life? You’re stuck up and you get
bad grades.” The dare thing was a lie, but everything else was true. As Ashlyn was walking away, one of Steven’s
AH friends said a rude remark. Ashlyn pretended she did not hear him. A tear started to role down Ashlyn’s cheek
as she went to the bathroom to cry.
                                                         ***
         When Ashlyn got home from school, the first thing she did was go to the kitchen. She ate when she was
upset. Then she went to her bed to cry. She did not even bother starting her homework, which was something she
did everyday. Even when there was no homework, she would ask the teacher to give her the homework for like
two weeks ahead.
         “Dangit!” Ashlyn said. She forgot to get her yogurt. All she had was a spoon.
         When Ashlyn went all the way back to the kitchen, she noticed the screen door was partially opened and
so was her jewelry box! She quietly tip-toed into the kitchen with a broom, her spoon, and holding #1 on her
phone, which was 911 on her speed dial. She checked under the table, then under the couch Her couches were
fairly low, so she did not expect anyone to be there, but it was worth a look. When she found that no one was
there, she stood up, turned around, and fainted. Behind her was the same guy she had seen on the news! He was
wearing Levi Strauss jeans and a blue shirt with a white outline. He had a mask over his head, but you could
slightly tell he had brown eyes. He was holding a gun, too.
                                                         ***
         “Ashyln? Ashlyn, honey, are you alright?”
         That was her dad’s voice, yes! She wasn’t dead, unless they were both dead, she thought to herself.
         Ashlyn woke up in the ER with a bunch of people she did not know standing around her. She noticed
some doctors huddled in the corner of the room, whispering and pointing to her.
         “Ashlyn, are you all right?” her dad repeated himself once more.
         “Yah dad, I’m fine, but how did I get here?”
         “Steven brought you here!” her dad said it like it was no big deal. Well, it was probably no big deal to
him; Steven was just a rowdy teenager.
         “Oh, so enlighten us with your heroic story of how you got me here!” said Ashlyn WAY too sarcastically.
         “Well,” Steven began, showing off his heroic smile to everyone in the room.
         “I came to your house to apologize to you for what happened yesterday,” Steven continued, but Ashlyn
just rolled her eyes at that comment.
         “When I knocked on the door and no one answered after the 15th knock, I knew something was wrong.
The reason I could tell something was up was because I saw through the porch window that the screen door was
open and it looked suspicious. I decided to go inside through the screen door instead…”
         “No duh,” Steven got interrupted by Ashlyn’s rude remark. “Oh, sorry, continue,” said Ashlyn.
         “Okay then…when I got into the house, I saw you lying on the floor. At first I thought you were dead, so
I called 911. When they got here, they assured me you were not dead but should be sent to the hospital to make
sure everything was okay. I agreed and went in the ambulance with you. Some of the police stayed to investigate,
and they later saw the guy that scared you hiding behind a tree. Yah, uh, not a great hiding place. And that is the
story!” Steven took a deep breath as if indicating the end of his story.
         There was a short pause in the room and then everyone started clapping for the hero standing under the
doorframe.
         Whatever, thought Ashlyn.
                                                         ***
                                                                                                               123

         The next day at school was a total bore. The math teacher, Mrs. Conjesterotucious, let them out early.
Even she was bored by her lesson.
         Today, strangely enough, Steven decided to ditch the cool kids and sit with Ashlyn and Clay.
         “Hi,” said Steven with joy.
         “Hi,” said Ashlyn with anger.
         “Awkward,” said Clay.
         “Well, I am going to get my lunch.” Steven was nervous.
         “You go do that, Steven,” Ashlyn’s remark didn’t help.
         Just as Steven was getting up, some tall guy screeched “FOOD FIGHT!”
         “Uh O,” they all said at once. It was a well-known fact that this school had the messiest and loudest food
fight in the whole county. “We only have two choices: A. get pelted with spaghetti, B. get the heck out the lunch
room. I suggest we choose B,” said Steven.
         Without anyone seeing Steven, Clay, or Ashlyn, they snuck out the back door of the cafeteria. They made
their way out through the science rooms, which were in a different building, then the rest of the school because of
fire hazards, and out through the dumpsters. They stopped at the back of the brick school. They were facing the
woods that the school used as a nature area and a school camping ground.
         “So what do we do now, hero that fell from the skies above?” mumbled Ashlyn sarcastically. Steven
pretended he did not hear Ashlyn.
         “We could take a hike through the trees. It will take about two hours to get the mess cleaned up and get
all the kids settled down.” Clay stated. Little did Clay and Ashlyn know that their adventure began that day.
         They started their walk with a little conversation, and then it went quiet. No one knew what to say; they
were all in an awkward possition.
         “OMG! Look at that beautiful, yellow flower!” Ashlyn hollered. She went to go pick it up. Clay and
Steven went with her; none of them had realized how pretty it was until they got a closer look. As Clay began to
bend back up he saw something he had not noticed earlier. A narrow, stone tunnel was in front of them. There
was moss growing in the sides of the tunnel and in the cracks of the stone.
         “WHOA! How did that get there?” questioned Clay.
         “I know for a fact that, that…” Stevens’s voice trailed off as he looked down to a tiny green leprechaun.
The leprechaun had orange hair and freckles. He was wearing light green moccasins and had a dark green string
tied around his arm.
         “HAYLO! Welcome to the magical kingdom of Knottlac. I am Montra, and I will be your guide this
afternoon. Can I offer you any snacks or beverages? We have goat’s gut for a snack and swamp water as a special
today. And let me tell you that the swamp water is just disgusting! If ya’ll aren’t a fan of swamp water, we have
regular water, too!” Montra talked so fast that all they heard was “water too.”
         “Okay… lead the way!” said Clay with joy.
         Ashlyn shoved Clay with her elbow. What was he thinking? What if this was like a trap or something?
We could all get killed. Ashlyn did not want to go through that fear ever, ever again, but it was an adventure
sooo…
                                                          ***
         “Welcome to my home. Now there are a few things I need to over first. Do not eat in the living room. Do
not step on the grass, and most important, DO NOT BE A SNOOPER!” Montra had a loud voice for a little man.
         “First we have to stop by the mayor’s house. He needs us for something,” Montra said.
         They all quickly noticed that this was a magical suburban town where all the houses looked alike.
Montra’s house was much smaller but still looked the same. The houses all had the same stone texture and yellow
rooftops. The windows were squares cut out next to the door. There were flowerpots, with the same flowers,
sitting on the windowsill in each house. On the other window, there was an apple pie.
         “Weird,” Clay, Steven, and Ashlyn all said at once. Montra just rolled his eyes.
         When they got to the mayor’s house, they noticed that his house was made out of brick and blue rooftop
instead of a yellow.
         “What are we here for?” asked Ash.
         “I don’t know! I probably would tell you if I knew!!” Montra screeched.
         “Sorry,” said Ashlyn in a sassy tone.
         Montra knocked on the door about ten times before it was answered. When it finally got answered, a short
stocky man answered the door. He was wearing a black tuxedo, so they all assumed he was the mayor’s butler.
                                                                                                               124

         “How may I be of assistance today?” asked the butler.
         “Well, I was sent a letter to bring three other humans with me and then come here,”Montra explained.
         “Hu… Well, the mayor never said he would be having company,” the butler replied back. “But I will tell
him that. Wait, what is your name?”
         “Monra.”
         “Okay, I will tell him that Montra has arrived! Just sit in the waiting area, and someone will be with you
shortly.
         “Okay, thank you,” said Montra. The waiting room was a dull brown with dark green leaves outlining the
perimeter of the room. The chairs were a woodsy red. The carpet was brown but had a lot of stains on it, so it was
hard to tell what its original color was. They all sat down on the red couch and waited about ten minutes.
         “Hello,” said an unfamiliar voice. Ashlyn guessed it was the mayor, well, the fantasy creature mayor, not
like she was expecting it to be Chalton’s mayor. He had a pale complection and had three hands; he was wearing
a work suit and a different colored glove on each hand.
         “Hey!” they all said at once.
         “The reason I sent you here was because I need your help,” he pointed towards Montra. “Our city is in
danger,” he continued. “Your school and the town have been getting too close to our tunnel, and the only way we
can fix it is you. Only humans can help us. You will need the magic wand. Tap it three times on the tunnel, and
we will be gone forever. Since I will not get to say thank you or good bye to you after you have tapped the tunnel,
I will say it now…Thank you! Goodbye! Now go, fast! We are running out of time. The workers are coming in …
five minutes!!!!” the mayor handed them the wand and then vanished into thin air.
         “Freak,” said Steven.
         “We have to go,” said Montra.
         “Okay, whatev.” At this point, Ashlyn didn’t even care.
         They got to the tunnel with two minutes to spare.
         “Are you ready?” Montra asked. It was obvious that he was honored to save his town.
         “Yep.”
         “1, 2, 3,” they all counted-
                                                           ***
          “SO WHAT! I’M STILL A ROCK STAR. I GOT MY ROCK MOVES AND I DON’T NEED YOU!!!”
         “Ashlyn! For the last time, Wake up!!!” screeched Ashlyn’s mom.
         Ashlyn woke up to her alarm clock going off, singing “SO WHAT” on a bright Saturday.
         “What, but how?” Ashlyn was confused, what happened to Montra?
         “It was a dream, hon,” said Ashlyn’s mom. “Now get ready. We have to catch our plane ride to Greece,”
continued her mom.
         I guess my life isn’t so boring after all.



                                                  Caramel Bear
                                                  by Tucker Fife

         One day, in a caramel manufacturing plant in Canada, someone had a sick idea to put fairy dust in a bear
they made and shipped it off to Mexico. A little pinch of fairy dust could turn a caramel bear into a psycho killer
twenty-four hours after eating at In-N-Out.
         So you would expect some problems when the truck driver stopped at In-N-Out. Right you are. At
In-N-Out, the bear just had to get a Number One with no onion or lettuce. He scarfed it down and hopped back in
before anyone noticed.
         When they arrived in Mexico, the truck driver noticed an In-N-Out wrapper in the box, but the he thought
it was a joke and ignored it. By the time the caramel bear was loaded into the candy store, he noticed he was
slightly larger than all the other bears. He slipped away before he grew any bigger. So he decided to slip into a
storage room and hid in a barrel.
         When he jumped in, he saw a hundred-patty burger from In-N-Out with a sign that said, “Eat me.” He
didn’t want to, but he had an addiction, so he had to eat it. When he did, it was the most delicious burger ever.
When he finished, he grew a thousand feet taller. Way up high, he saw an extra-large In-N-Out chocolate
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milkshake. He drank it, and he started shrinking down to the size of a mouse. Then he saw a tiny door, and he
walked in. It was dark. All he could see was a leopard smoking a hookah.
         “Who are you?” it said.
         “I’m caramel bear,” the bear replied.
         “Leave,” it said.
         “I don’t know where to go,” he said.
         “Go out that door,” it said, pointing to the opposite side of the room and blowing out an odd shaped
smoke ring in the shape of a panda. He thanked the stranger and went out the door.
         Outside, he saw a panda running at him. He dodged it and ran into another door.
         He wound up at a tea party with three strange men, one with a hat with an odd symbol, (₤), and with a
British accent; another older gentleman with a t-shirt with a complicated mathematical equation on it and who
spoke in a weak, nerdy tone. The last man was incredibly tan, with a loose shirt that said “Hang Loose” and a
baggy swimsuit.
         The caramel bear asked, “May I join?”
         To which the British man replied, “Of course.” They sat and drank tea in silence.
         Then the bear asked, “What is that strange sign on your shirt?”
         The old man replied, “It’s the equation for the expansion of a sum.”
          Right after that, the caramel bear noticed a little red dot inside a bell tower. All he saw then was the old
man lunge in front of him, and he heard a loud shot.
         “You’re not safe here,” the tan one said. “Go out that door.”
         He ran out the door just in time to see a black knife hurtling at him. That was his last sight. About fifteen
feet back stood the factory worker with a hint of pride, knowing he just finished what he started.


                                                      Nothing
                                                 by Tosca Maltzman

           Sky and Clara met ten years ago in first grade. They were pretty much opposites, but as they say,
“opposites attract.” Sky, a respectful, caring person, and Clara, a stubborn but kind person, had become friends
instantly. Sky was blonde, with curls and waves that would fly free whenever her head moved. She had big, blue
eyes and a smile that would light up any room. Clara, with a light brown bob, had matching hazel eyes. Clara
liked to wear bright colors, but Sky preferred darker colors. With Sky’s friendliness and Clara’s stubbornness,
they were a great team. The two girls had been friends ever since they had met; and at this point, ten years later,
they had been friends—until now. It all started a week ago…
         Ring!!! Sky’s red cell phone was ringing. She was reading on her bed and the noise had shaken her. She
loved reading on her bed, just lying on top of the cocoa-brown duvet with a good book. The whole room was very
comforting to her. She had cream-colored walls with a white shaggy carpet that cushioned her feet whenever she
walked on it. A small TV was across the room from her bed, but she really only watched that at night. A little
closet was to the right of the room, a few steps away from the bed. It was like a miniature walk-in closet. The
shelves reached all the way up to the ceiling, with about twelve shelves per side of the square room. On the wall
leading from the closet was a little oak desk, with a comfortable light-blue chair and a silver laptop. Then, across
from the closet was a small glass door that opened to the outside of the house. To the right of the bed was a small
bathroom. Sky felt very safe and comfortable in her room, especially when she was reading.
         She looked at the front of her phone, where the little teeny screen blared the name “Clara! Clara! Clara!”
as it rang. She flipped the top of her phone up and put it to her ear.
         “Hey Clara,” Sky said casually.
         “How’d you know it was me?” asked Clara.
         “Caller ID. Anyway, what’s up?”
         “Nothing. I was just wondering if you wanted to see that new movie. It came out yesterday. It looks pretty
exciting!” Clara answered.
         “I’m sorry, Clara,” started Sky, “but I’m going to be very busy all day today, and I think I’ll be too tired
to go to a night movie. Sorry!”
         “Oh, okay then. What about tomorrow?” Clara asked.
                                                                                                                  126

         “Well, tomorrow I’m going to have to run some errands for this birthday party I’m going to. I really
am sorry. Maybe we could see that movie another time. It sounds like fun! Would you want to?” Sky replied,
quietly.
         “Well, if you can’t go today or tomorrow, then how about Sunday?”
         “Birthday party,” Sky almost whispered. She hated making her friend feel ignored. “I’m really sorry!
Would you want to go next week?” Sky asked hopefully.
         “Are you sure you won’t be too busy with clean-up?” Clara said in a cool voice.
         “No, I won’t ha—” Sky started, then realized that Clara was being sarcastic. All Sky heard was the lonely
beep of a hung-up phone.
         “Fine!” Sky shouted into the phone, even though she knew that Clara wouldn’t hear it.
         The next day, Saturday, Sky wasn’t sure if she would be busy anymore, not that it mattered, because the
only birthday party she was planning was for Clara. She doesn’t deserve a birthday party from me anyway! Sky
would tell herself, but she did feel a little bit guilty. I’ll send her a little note; and then maybe we’ll be friends
again, she decided. Then she wrote her note:
                 Dear Clara,
                          I’m sorry that I upset you. Please forgive me! I know that you are angry,
                 but please understand. I’m just very busy. I just think that the important
                 priorities should get done first, don’t you? Please, please, please forgive me! I
                 want to be friends again! I’m very, very sorry! Love, Sky
         This only made matters worse. Clara replied:
                  So I guess that means that I’m not important to you. Oh well, right back at you.
         When Sky finished reading Clara’s reply, she knew that Clara wouldn’t get over their argument very
quickly. She had to fix it! She decided that she would e-mail Clara. Clara’s birthday is tomorrow, and right now
she thinks that I am her enemy! Sky thought. She sat down on her squishy chair that was in front of her oak desk.
She put her hands on her keyboard and signed into her e-mail account. She had a few unread e-mails, but she
didn’t read them. She clicked “new message” and typed a nice short e-mail:
                  Listen, I know that you are mad, but the only reason I’m not available is because
                  I have a lot of important errands to run. In fact, I think you’ll like the product
                  from the errands that I am running. Please don’t be mad anymore. I want to be
                  friends again! -Sky
         Sky pressed “send” and watched the message she had typed fly away to Clara’s computer. Sky sat there
and waited. No reply was heading her way.
         Sky got frustrated and decided to try again.
                  Come on! The only reason you’re mad is because the next three days, I don’t
                  have time to watch a movie with you! This is so annoying and pointless! I didn’t
                  do anything wrong, but you’re mad at me! I can’t believe you!
         Sky waited. After about five minutes, Clara replied: Sorry.
         Yes! Thought Sky, Now we’re best friends. Again.
         She put all the decorations she could find, streamers, confetti, balloons, and other fun decorations, into a
big cardboard box. Then she picked up the raspberry-filled chocolate cake and walked across the street to Clara’s
house. Clara was gone, probably at that movie. Sky had heard Clara’s car drive away.
         She had her own house key to Clara’s house and stuck it into the lock. When she got inside, she set down
her box of decorations and started pulling things out and hanging them up. She hung streamers from one wooden
wall to another, and across the white ceiling. She had confetti in a little glass bowl on the glass console table that
perched on the wall in the entryway hall so that she could throw some when Clara walked into the house. She
blew up many bright colored balloons and tied them to all of the little, light-blue chairs that sat around the reddish
oak dining room table. She hung up a big Happy Birthday banner along the entryway hallway walls, too.
         Things were coming along very nicely after about fifty minutes of work. When she looked at the clock,
she only had about forty minutes left. She finished decorating in about a half-hour. Since she had some extra time,
she decided she’d go run to her house and make sure she hadn’t forgotten anything.
         When she opened her front door, she remembered that she had forgotten the candles for the birthday cake.
         “Let’s see, she’s turning seventeen. Seventeen candles. Okay,” Sky said to herself.
                                                                                                                   127

    She walked into the kitchen and over to the drawer where the candles, sprinkles, cookie cutters, and
lighters rested. When she opened the drawer though, nothing was in it. So she opened the drawer right below it,
just in case. But nothing was in that one either. The clock said it was 3:55. She had five minutes. Sky decided that
she would look for candles at Clara’s house. She walked back to the house and opened the front door. Or, at least
she tried to. It wouldn’t even bend just a little bit or anything.
         That’s funny. I could have sworn that I didn’t lock the door when I went out. Oh well. I’ll just unlock it.
Sky thought. So, she pushed the key into the lock, but it still wouldn’t move. She didn’t know what to do. She saw
Clara’s white car drive up. Oh no! She was standing right in front of Clara’s door, and Clara was here. This would
ruin everything! She could see Clara pushing the garage door button from inside the car. She could also see that
the garage door wasn’t opening. Clara parked her car in front of the garage door and got out.
         When Clara saw Sky, she walked over to her. “What’s going on? Why isn’t my garage door opening?”
Clara asked.
         “I don’t know. But it seems like everything is disappearing! Nothing is really working…” Sky trailed off.
         “What do you mean?”
         “Well, I was going to throw you a surprise birthday party. But I guess that idea has gone out the window,”
Sky started hesitantly. “I decorated your house, and I forgot the candles, so I walked to my house to get them.
When I opened the drawer, you know the one I’m talking about, the drawer with all my food decoration
supplies?” Clara nodded, and Sky continued. “Well, when I opened the drawer, they weren’t there!”
         “Well, maybe you moved your candles. Did you ever think of that?” Clara suggested.
         “Nothing was in the drawer at all. Nothing was in the other drawer either. Your garage door and your
front door won’t open; it’s like nothing is really behind the doors, or in the house. It’s like our furniture is trying
to hide, trying to protect…nothing!” Sky exclaimed.
         “Well, let’s just check your house. Maybe it’s unlocked. It’s starting to get cold,” Clara proposed.
         “Okay, good idea. Let’s go.”
         Sky and Clara walked to Sky’s house and tried the door, but it wouldn’t budge. Then Sky said, “Let’s go
to the back door. I usually leave it unlocked. And I definitely wouldn’t lock it to just go across the street to your
house.”
         The two girls started walking to the back of the house, but as they approached the end of the house, they
noticed that nothing was there. It was just white. Boring wide open white nothingness.
         “What’s going on? What’s going on?” Clara gasped in surprise.
         “I don’t know. Let’s go back,” Sky replied, worried.
         “Okay,” Clara agreed quickly.
         “Just try to calm yourself, Clara. It’ll be okay…even if everything disappears, we’ll still be friends,” Sky
soothed.
         “But if everything disappears, won’t we?”
         “I-I-I don’t know,” Sky whispered.
         Clara gasped. “Look!”
         Sky turned around towards what Clara was pointing to, behind her. When she turned around, she saw
nothing. Just plain old nothing. White. Everything everywhere, white. Nothing. Sky couldn’t say anything. The
lump in her throat wouldn’t even let her breathe easily.
         “It’s-everything is-I-but…” Clara couldn’t find the right words. Then she burst into tears. “What did we
do? Why did this happen?” Clara asked, not really directed to anyone, but tilting her head up to where the blue
sky used to be. Sky didn’t answer.
         “What will we do?” Clara asked.
         “I don’t know. Maybe…well maybe if we walk, we’ll find a place that’s untouched by the white. I don’t
know,” Sky said again.
         “Okay, let’s walk. We can’t do anything else, anyway,” Clara agreed.
         So, Clara and Sky walked. They walked and walked and walked. They never found any place, and they
never will find any place. But they don’t give up hope. Clara get’s cranky sometimes, but Sky just tries to deal
with it; she doesn’t want to get into another argument with Clara. They never age, and they will never die. They
just walk. And walk. And walk.

				
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