Writing the Novel with Carolyn Cohagan 2020
Writing the Novel was the first camp of the summer, which means it was everyone's first experience with an on-line Kids With Pens camp, including mine. I was delighted to find that these young writers were as enthusiastic as ever to create new characters and plots and to stretch their imaginations further than ever before. Some of these stories were inspired by a first line I supplied, some by a mysterious Marc Chagall painting, and others by a new world created by the campers themselves while in small groups. Each one suggests a larger story that could indeed be a novel, and I hope the writers will keep working on these fascinating pieces.
by Sofia Avalos
Sixty years ago, the fifty third All-Seer graduated from his apprenticeship and became the truth telling and scrying mage of Alora. Now, this man who is the All-Seer, was not your typical Aloran child. The All-Seer had been an orphan. You see, Alora is known for its large families, happy marriages, and successful people. But, it seemed that every time an All-Seer was chosen, the young boy or girl had no family whatsoever.
The current All-Seer in his old age, would soon have to venture forth from the comforts of his isolated home in the mountains to the great land of Alora. For what? Remember, the All-Seer was getting old and he would soon be in neoed of a replacement, an apprentice who he could train to take his place.
The All-Seer, a sage old man, knew this. He knew it in his very bones. So the All-Seer prepared. He summoned all nine of his crows and dressed in his finest dark blue robes. Small mirrors and silver thread were embroidered across it so it appeared the All-Seer was wearing the night sky itself. He grabbed his staff by the wooden front door and selected a few protection amulets from his vast collection.
Then, the All-Seer waited. And waited. The sun went to sleep and the moon arose, bringing its entourage of planets and stars but still, the fifty third All-Seer of Alora did not step out of his cottage.
Only the All-Seer knew what he was waiting for. And when he finally spoke, the old man spoke in riddles.
“Find the girl
Eyes dark and blue
Never the truth
Never to you
Find the girl
Hidden in the back
Her lies and shadows
Of darkest black
Find the girl A thief with loot
An orphan at
The age of two”
The All-Seer had been waiting for the guiding hand of the oracle-god the All-Seers followed. And so with that, the All-Seer used his old twisted staff to heave himself up from his chair. Nine crows circling overhead and the new knowledge of who his apprentice should be, the All-Seer began the long, treacherous hike down the Rockfall Mountains.
by Lex Benton-Jonshult
Wilbur looked up from hir journal when something clunked against hir window.
“Just a stupid bird,” Wilbur assured hirself, twirling hir pencil in hir fingers.
Another rock clunked against the window.
“You know I want you!” A scratchy, off-key voice shouted.
Wilbur threw open the curtain and window, glaring at the source of the voice.
“It’s not a secret I try to hide!”
“Goddammit, Emily, it’s 3am!” Wilbur shouted to her, throwing the rope down. Xe waited while the bane of hir existence crawled through the window like a demented spider monkey.
“Moonlight, joy, apple of my eye, sweetheart, lionheart, emerald eyes, beauty to my beast, sparkling dewdrop, velvet sunset, my dear, beloved,” Emily said, throwing herself down on Wilbur’s bed.
Wilbur let her go on, as xe pulled the rope in and closed the window and curtain.
“Constellation, starshine, sunlight, vanilla bean, cutie pie, fudge cake.” Wilbur straightened hir desk. “Baby cheeks, glistening amber, restless heart.”
“Yes?” Wilbur said.
“Why are you up at 3 AM again?”
“Says the young lady who threw rocks and shouted lyrics to a love song at my window at 3 AM. You are aware you have school tomorrow, right?”
“Yes, dad,” Emily replied, rolling her eyes. “Anyways, we got another mystery death.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Wilbur groaned.
“‘Fraid not, kiddo,” Emily replied seriously, lifting her head just enough to look Wilbur in the eyes.
“You’re two years younger than me,” Wilbur said, already pulling on hir coat.
“Yes, dad.” Emily blew a raspberry at hir. “You want to see the body or not?”
“I’m dressed,” Wilbur grumbled, then pulled open the door to hir apartment. Xe locked the door behind them, and Emily led the way down the stairs, out of the building, and in to an alleyway.
The room stank of decay even though the person had died less than two hours ago. Wilbur glared at the organs in front of hir as if they would talk to hir and reveal the cause of death if xe just looked hard enough.
Hir findings were congruent with the other deaths: premature, but otherwise completely normal.
WIlbur finally pushed away from the table and pulled off hir gloves. Xe needed to leave if xe wanted to avoid suspicion.
The last thing Wilbur wanted to do was leave.
Wilbur dropped hir dirty clothing in to the hydrogen peroxide mixture xe had found effective for removing blood. Xe took a quick shower, then pulled on clean clothing.
Wilbur picked up hir notes, but xe barely had to look at them to file hir observations on to a neatly organized sheet and tuck it in to the binder with the other files belonging to the mysterious deaths.
There was no pattern to the deaths. Ages of the victims ranged from 5 to 72. The deaths had appeared in healthy adults and terminally ill patients. Victims were every gender Wilbur could imagine.
by Caroline Borham
He didn’t mean to do it. He’d even called the ambulance, but to be fair, if he didn’t do it, he might be the one on the ground with a stab wound instead of the one holding the knife. Rick stood there in shock replaying what had just happened as wailing police sirens got closer.
Twenty minutes ago, he had pulled into the dark parking lot with his headlights turned off. Rick had then studied the area before getting out of the car and leaving it unlocked. He had made sure no one was following him before he headed for the river. He had checked his watch which read 10:30 p.m. before rounding the corner that revealed the river, but also someone that he hadn’t been expecting, someone who seemed agitated by his presence. Just as Rick realized who it was, the man charged at him wielding a knife.
Rick snapped out of his headspace as squad cars got and an ambulance pulled into the parking lot. Rick thought about where his life had led him up until now.
Three months ago, Damien Charles Winthrop Jones was just a simple man who went by the name Rick and who had never been late to work once in his life. Three months ago, he was the kind of man who had a black coffee with two sugars every morning before leaving for work at 7:30 a.m. to catch the 7:37 a.m. train. Three months ago, Rick was a boring man yearning for adventure, but a boring man who could not tell a lie if his life depended on it. But that was three months ago.
Sweat was dripping down Rick’s back as his face was lit up by red and blue squad car lights. His ears were filled with the sounds of sirens, people yelling, and the river rushing. Rick felt the handcuffs tighten around his wrists as he absentmindedly nodded in understanding while an officer read him his Miranda rights. Rick barely remembered being stuffed into the back of a cop car and before he knew it, he was being escorted into the police station and down a hallway before arriving in front of a door.
The room was small and dark with just a table and three chairs inside. Rick was pushed through the door frame and directed to one of the seats. Suddenly, a blinding light came on and shone directly on Rick’s face. He squinted. The two men escorting him then sat on the other side of the table. Their faces were hard to make out but their badges glistened in the light.
Sweat beaded on Rick’s forehead. He couldn’t lie. He had never been able to but now for the sake of his crew, he was going to have to try.
“Alright,” one of the cops said. “You were basically caught red handed so if you cooperate, waive the lawyer, and tell us exactly what happened right now, I will make sure you get 25 instead of life.” Rick’s stomach turned as one of the officers pushed a pen and paper across the table.
"At this point, I have nothing to lose,” Rick thought as he signed the document waiving his lawyer. The cops stared at Rick waiting for him to start talking.
“Well, uh, my guy told me to meet him by the river-”
“Who, we need a name,” the tall cop said leaning forward.
“I only know him as JD I swear!” Rick pleaded. The tall one sat back in his seat gesturing for Rick to continue. “Anyway, when I showed up, JD wasn’t there. Instead, he sent his right hand man, Ripper, who we all know is unhinged and he seemed to be bothered that I was there. Anyway, I walked up to him and he pulled a knife on me. I had no choice! It was self-defense!”
The cops laughed and walked out of the room slowly opening the door. Jaime was standing in the doorway.
“You took the deal?” he yelled.
“They got me and you know I can’t lie,” Rick said.
“No! They were bluffing! First of all, Ripper pulled through and he’s at the hospital right now so the most you could get was attempted murder if they didn’t let you off on self-defense and second, JD didn’t send the stuff with him so they quite literally had nothing on us but no! They didn’t need it because Rick over here was all too happy to spill his guts and rat us all out!”
“Jaime,” Rick started.
“Save it for the hearing,” Jaime spat walking out. Rick hung his head in defeat.
by Aria Bryton
I was ten years old before I met my first clone (of me, I had already met other clones of course). I was on my class field trip with the other “high intelligence” ten year olds to the best science lab in town--and for that matter the world. The “Cornelius Clone Lab” where they both perfected cloning and invented a realistic way to do it all the time--at a low cost, no less. I was chosen to be clowned out of all my classmates because I was able to answer our tour guides' question “why do we need clones?”.
The answer was rather obvious to me. Clones take over civilian jobs, so that we have twenty-four hour work days and are most productive as a society. The reason civilians couldn’t work twenty-four hours was because there simply aren't enough civilians, not after the third world war, and besides how would we feed all of those people with our limited resources? That’s where the clones came in, they used photosynthesis like plants so we could be productive, yet conserve precious resources. Of course, the other ten year olds (and I!) were concerned that clones weren’t really clones since their energy source wasn’t the same but, the guide explained that beside that small change to their nature there was only one other change. Clones can’t think independently, because we could not take another revolt after the robot one.
After I had answered the question the guide suggested that they make a clone of me. I agreed excitedly. All my classmates watched enviously as I got a hair pulled out of my head and put into a small red container on the side of the machine that would make the clone. The guide narrated all of this but I could only hear my racing thoughts. I was instructed to lie down on the first bed inside the machine. “The machine will scan her brain and make an exact copy of her knowledge, there will also be a link between them so that the clone will receive any new knowledge she learns. They will also analyze her physically so that everything is exactly the same, including clothing, because DNA won’t input those changes. As well as any additional changes that need to be made like photosynthesis and making sure the clone doesn’t think independently,” said the guide. I lay down and a tingling sensation washed over me as I was scanned. Then, I fell asleep and when I woke up there was another one of me. My CLONE!
I smiled as I pulled out of my memory, now I climbed the steps up to the lab again, I was sixteen and ready to become an intern here. I was even expected to become head scientist when I turned twenty, since I had already gone through university on a full scholarship and worked with clones in other parts of the country.
All of this raced through my mind before I finally reached the top of the stairs. I swung the door open humming slightly and had barely stepped through the door when someone--or something-- grabbed my wrist and yanked me down a dark , unfamiliar hallway, our footsteps clattering loudly, and pressed a knife to my neck. Hard. I could feel it digging into my skin. I looked into their eyes and yelped; it was like looking into a mirror. It was me! Or well, it was my clone from when I was ten years old. I had never had another clone made here, so it had to be the clone that was made here six years ago I shivered. And unexpectedly the clone opened its mouth, “Help free the clones, dear.” A sinking feeling filled my stomach as the clone slipped away. My thoughts raced but the only logical solution to why this happened was because someone was helping the clones revolt!
To be continued...
by Alana Damon
Emma hated asparagus. She hated everything about them. How they smelled, how they looked, and especially how they smelled. Yet here she was, being forced to choke down a dozen asparagus. Her mother insisted she eat more greens, so all Emma had eaten in the last week was asparagus. Chopped asparagus, whole asparagus, asparagus soup, and so on. The whole thing was making her feel like she was asparagus. Emma was sure she was thinner, and her platinum blonde hair seemed to have a greenish tinge. Her mother had even gotten it layered the other day. Like asparagus. On top of all this, she had had a major growth spurt and was suddenly very tall.
Despite everything, Emma still attempted to live life normally. She went to school as often as she could and she would sneak meat in from the cafeteria. Emma loved meat. Beef, pork, chicken, turkey, you name it. And her school made the best chicken. It made Emma very warm and fuzzy inside. So when her mother announced that she was going to be homeschooled starting next week, she just about had a conniption fit. Her mother insisted it was for the best, but Emma didn’t believe it in the slightest. She went straight to her room and pouted, hoping her mother would change her mind. But no, this was real life, and in real life, her mother always got what she wanted. Emma’s meat days were over and now she was condemned to a life of asparagus.
Emma woke up the next morning sulking. This was her last day of meat. Ever. She dragged herself out of bed, wondering how she was going to have the motivation to get out of bed tomorrow. Emma sadly put on her school uniform, half sad this was the last time she’d wear it, and half glad. Then she dragged feet all the way down the stairs, dreading her asparagus omelet. Each stair felt a mile away, and she wished they were. Emma eventually reached the last stair and nearly burst into tears at the thought of a disgusting green, fake omelet. Even a real omelet would be better.
Emma forced herself into the kitchen and onto the chair. Then she cut off a piece of the green goop and shoved it into her mouth.
“Emma, please! I know you love asparagus, but have some manners,” her mother scolded.
Emma nodded solemnly. Then she forced another bite down. And another. And another. And then she was done. Emma sighed in relief and grabbed her backpack slowly. Then slower still, she trudged out the front door and onto the school bus. She sat alone and choked back her tears. When the bus pulled up to the school, Emma was the last to get off. She bitterly walked through the school doors for the last time and took the turn to her English class ever so regretfully. When lunchtime rolled around, Emma’s spirits rose until she remembered this was her last meat lunch. She grabbed the biggest chunk of meat from the choices and remorsefully plopped into her seat. Emma took the first bite of meat and an overwhelming feeling of great joy flooded her body. This meat, right here and now, made her feel like everything would be okay.
Sly As A Fox
by Natalie Daubert
“Yes,” I respond, knowing that if I didn’t, I might not make it home in time. “Yes what?” asks the burly dog in front of me. He is the dog who found me sneaking toward the food on the shelf. Now, he has me cornered against a fence. “Yes, I was trying to steal food,” I say, looking the dog in the eye. Many foxes like me have attempted to break in and steal food from the Brown family's kitchen. They have so much food that they don’t even use. Rumor is, the whole family is really on vacation at a river somewhere. “Filthy fox,” grumbles the dog. “So… will you let me go now?” I ask timidly. “Quiet fox. What are you playing at?” barks the dog. “I’m not going to trick you,” I say to the dog. “Then, why would a fox tell the truth? I thought the expression was 'sly as a fox', as in 'foxes are sneaky liars'” wonders the dog. "Because,” I answer. “Maybe she might have a family to take care of and doesn't have time to come up with an elaborate lie. And not all foxes are untrustworthy.” I don’t wait for a response. I quickly scamper up the fence and run into the forest.
After I’m far away from the Brown’s house, I spot a small sparrow perched on a sapling in front of me. I flatten myself against the ground, tuck in my take, and perk up my ears. The sparrow doesn’t see me. My hind legs spring and I leap into the air. I hit the bird with my paw and land on it. I hold it in my mouth until it lets out a small squeak, then goes limp in my mouth. I quickly make my way through the forest, the sparrow bouncing in my mouth as I bound through the tall grass. My orange fur blows in the wind. Suddenly, I see a bushy tail poke out from a hole in the ground. My den!
Most animals don’t like foxes. They think they are untrustworthy and steal eggs. Humans don’t like foxes either. They think we make spooky noises at night and hunt chickens. I am not like other foxes though. I live with my mother and two younger siblings. We protect each other and share our food. We have to, or else, who will? Many foxes in our family have been known for stealing food and hunting baby animals for fun. I have taken a vow to never steal food or lie, to show other animals that not all foxes are untrustworthy. Tonight, I almost broke my vow. My younger sister, Ari, is very sick. I wanted to get her something special, like those seasoned chickens humans make. But, unfortunately, I was caught. Maybe it was for the better. I shouldn’t steal food. I scamper inside my den. My younger brother, Felix, is moping around, probably hungry. My mother is next to Ari. I drop the sparrow in front of her.
“How is she doing?” I ask, walking over to my younger sister.
“Oh, Amber. There you are. She’s burning up,” says my mom gravely. “I don’t know how to help her anymore. She has refused to eat and only wakes up at certain times of the day." My mom stumbles back over to where Ari is.
Felix trots over to his pile of leaves, curls up, and goes to sleep. It is pretty late, I guess. Ari’s tiny body is curled up. Her chest rises and falls in a slow rhythm. I wish I could do something to help her.
“Maybe I could find some cool water from the river!” I say quickly, rushing over to the den entrance.
“Amber,” my mom says, tiredly. I don’t let her finish her sentence.
“I can just hold the water in my mouth and quickly run back-”
“Amber!” interrupts my mom. “Enough! You look exhausted! Your fur is messy, you haven't eaten in two days, and-” my mom gasps, rushing over to me. “Oh, you're hurt!” I look down where my mom is pointing. There is a gash in my hind leg, not deep, but the fur around it is dark red. Suddenly, fatigue hits me. I am tired, and there is a nagging feeling in my stomach. I collapse where I stand. I let out a small whimper.
“Amber?” asks Felix, getting up from his sleeping spot. Then, darkness.
When I wake up, I don’t know what happened. I remember feeling very tired and wanting to help my sister. Exhaustion must have gotten the best of me. My mom is sleeping in the corner of the den, Ari nestled between her front paws. Felix is snoring loudly next to me. I get up slowly but immediately fall. My hind leg stings and my stomach hurts. I slowly crawl towards my mom and Ari. I feel my younger sister's forehead. She is hot. If she doesn’t cool off soon, I don’t think she’ll make it till morning, I realize.
I carefully pick up Ari by the scruff, careful not to wake my mom. She lets out a little sigh. I step over leaves and twigs in my den. When Ari and I finally make it to the exit, I immediately crouch low in the grass. I hear voices. I quickly grab Ari, who is shivering, and we hide in some tall grass. These voices do not belong to animals though. They are low and I cannot understand what they are saying.
Humans! I think. I perk up my black-tipped ears to see how far away they are. I sniff the air for signs of other animals. Wait! An animal scent. I notice. The humans seem to have an animal attached to a rope they are holding. It is not wild. It wreaks of domestication. The humans are getting closer. I can now see their animal on the rope. It is a dog, but with a strange plastic thing around its head. I can see through the plastic thing. The dog has a bite mark on its neck. The bite looks very lethal. The dog probably would have died from an infection. But it didn’t. How? I think to myself. Maybe humans helped it. If humans were able to help this dog from a deadly animal bit, maybe they could help other animals too! I look down at Ari. She is shivering below me. Her tiny tail is tucked between her legs. She is burning up again.
My plan is risky. Very risky. I put Ari down in a soft patch of grass right outside our den. “I’ll be right back,” I reassure Ari. I carefully step inside the den, making no noise. I don’t want to accidentally wake up Felix and my mom. I see nobody has touched the sparrow I hunted earlier. I pick it up slowly, then go back outside to where Ari is lying. My whole body is shaking with fatigue and exhaustion, but I need to get Ari to humans. They will make her all better, I hope. I need energy, so I start to eat the sparrow. I place a small piece in front of Ari to see if she will wake up. She doesn’t. While I’m eating the sparrow, a thought comes into my mind. What if humans think I am in their town to steal something? Will they help Ari, or just scare us both back to the forest? Humans don’t trust foxes. But I am not like other foxes. I do not steal food for fun or hunt domestic animals. It would be a great risk to go down to the human village. But that is a risk I have to take. For Ari.
I leave the bones of the sparrow outside of our den. I feel much better after eating. I pick up Ari again and set off towards the human village. I try not to focus on what could go wrong. Instead, I focus on the steady rhythm of my paws hitting the ground. Up ahead, I can see the lights. The human village. I think. I run down a hill with Aria safe inside my mouth. The hill is steep, and I almost tumble down. I regain my balance and dart across a street. One of the human’s big, mechanical monsters comes tumbling down the road, narrowly missing my tail. I quickly tuck in my white-tipped tail and continue. I look down at Ari to make sure she is ok. She is still sound asleep. The concrete floor is hurting my paws when I run. You have to keep going, I tell myself. Keep going, Amber. For Ari.
Finally, I can smell wild animals. The scent is coming from inside a white building. The white building is only one street away. The mechanical monsters rush past. If I can make it past this street, Ari will be safe. I wait for a time when there are no monsters on the road, then I leap as far as I can. My paws hit the ground and I keep running. I’m halfway through the street when I hear the monster. It is coming at me fast. I don’t know what to do. If I run forward, I could get trampled by other monsters. I can’t run back. The distance is too far. All I do is stay still, paralyzed with fear. I flatten myself against the ground and curl my tail around Ari’s small body. “It’s ok,” I purr to Ari, just like our mom does.
I squeeze my eyes shut, bracing for impact when suddenly, the monster skids to a stop in front of us. I am flooded with relief. My legs go limp and I drop Ari. Three humans in white coats come rushing out of the building. They speak loudly, but calmly. One pickles up Ari in their hand. Oh no! I think. With the last of my strength, I try to bite the human holding Ari. I miss and fall to the floor. My leg injury stings and my vision is blurry. One of the humans strokes my fur and shows me, Ari. Then they take her inside the white building. The building for healing animals. You did it, I tell myself. They will take care of her. I close my eyes. I know Ari will be ok. The humans will save her. She will make it back to the den. My mom and Felix will be fine without me. Then, the world fades into blackness before my eyes.
Wanting, Not Having
by Lauren Geller
The princess shocked everyone when she announced that she was engaged to a dragon. “The ring is made of ember diamonds, do you want to see it?’’ she asked blissfully.
“That is definitely not Allison,’’ the King boomed. “Take her to the dungeon!’’
“But daddy,’’ his daughter whined.
“Take her away!’’ he responded.
In the dungeon, “Allison’’ snickered as she unlocked the lock she had put on one of the floorboards and opened it up to see her sister’s worried face. Two days ago, “Allison” had snuck down to the dungeon, while wearing one of the king’s knight’s armor. She snuck into the cell that day and lifted a floorboard to create a compartment to hold two people. Then she put a lock on it and snuck out with the key. Later, Allison was captured by the imposter and thrown into the small compartment. A search was conducted for the lost princess, only to be found two days later in her room, but this wasn’t the real Allison.
“Amelia, stop this,” the real Allison begged.
"Everything’s going according to plan, why stop now?’’ Amelia asked sweetly. “No one in the kingdom knows that our mother had two daughter’ s before her alleged death so they could get a divorce. So when you got to live the posh princess life, while I was begging for food scraps, I knew and I planned my revenge to ruin your reputation as kindest princess,’’ Amelia said, while trying to choke back tears. “It will happen. You will no longer be known as the kindest girl, but as the most rude person ever. I will make it happen, if it’s the last thing I do.’’
The King paced around in his study, back and forth, back and forth trying not to believe that it was his second daughter pretending to be Allison. “It could be goblin magic, or fairy dust, or… umm,’’ his voice trailed off. He sighed “But it probably is. I feel so bad because she was living on the streets, begging for food and we were living a life of feasts and galas. I need to talk to her and maybe she’ll forgive me and we can all live up here, in the castle.’’ he told himself.
Heavy footsteps trudged down to the staircase of the damp and humid dungeon. “Amelia!’’ he called out. There was no answer, but that was expected because the walls were soundproof. A servant unlocked the door and the King expected to see Amelia, or Allison, but no one was even in the cell! "Wha, What? The King said, still in shock. “Did you see her escape?’’ he asked a guard.
“ Umm... I don’t think so,’’ he responded, weakly
“Let’s go search the grounds and the market. Go men, GO! The King ordered.
Amelia waited, her ear pressed up to the ice-cold floorboard. Her sister was next to her with a cloth tied around her mouth, to keep her from talking. When she heard not but one single word from above, she took action. She lifted up the floorboard from the inside and locked it, leaving Allison inside. Amelia knew where she was headed.
The King’s knight had found Allison underneath the floorboards after the search for Amelia had been conducted. After reuniting with his daughter, The King made an announcement to the town to be on the lookout for someone who looked like Allison, but who wasn’t.
The fairies of Spellbound had always been simple with their magic. The beautiful fairy godmothers were kind and helpful and had humongous hearts, despite their three inch height average. The magic that they withheld was the most in all the land, for it was light magic and unlike dark magic, this didn’t have limit. If one was to use it for evil and darkness, it would permanently become dark magic, with limits.
The surprise slingshot attack was, no doubt, a surprise. Fairy dust was everywhere! You could see the fairies changing form from dragon to dragonfly. “Gimme the dragon dust. NOW!’’ Amelia yelled. “If you tell anyone about-’’ the bushes rustled. Amelia hid behind a tree from a rabbit, but she didn’t know that. She rushed over to the orphanage, the one that hadn’t accepted her to stay there, even if it was only for a few nights. Torturing the orphans was a part of her revenge list. Amelia the Devil as she would be known on the news, ten minutes later stomped on their hands and feet, took their small food and then she did the most horrible thing she could… she drank the potion!
A dark smoke surrounded her and you could hear the horrid, terrifying, bone rattling growl from miles away. Amelia’s red and black wings were ginormous and the young orphans were trying so very hard to not be blown away, but for many of them, this wasn’t possible. Everyone in the village was so terrified that they ran into their houses, shuddering with fear. The dragon’s dark eyes were that color of her soul, black. She had felt so neglected from love her entire life, that her heart was no bigger than the skipping stones children played with on the hot, summer days. Her wings broke roofs and her fire disintegrated the carts of the visiting vendors.
The small city of Spellbound was left bare. Belongings were destroyed, houses which once stood tall, were reduced to ash and rubble. Children wept while their parents tried to piece together parts of their lives from the ashes. There was no sign of Amelia, for she had ran into the forest. She didn’t want to feel the tinge of guilt that would only grow if she came back and tried to apologize. She sighed. Tears ran down her pale cheeks and wouldn’t stop. Not now. Not ever. She stood up and sighed again. It was getting dark now. She walked in the direction of the town. As she was about to step over the town line, she saw her father and sister hug. It wasn’t a quick hug that you would get before going to sleep, it was a “ We’ll get through this together’’ hug, the type that Amelia had longed for. Then, she saw the destruction and terror she had caused. “Oh, dear God,” she whispered to herself. “What have I done?’’ Turning her back on the town, a male villager saw her!
“Hey!’’ he exclaimed. “ Isn’t that the dragon lady that destroyed everything?’’ he asked the rest of the town.
“Yeah!’’ a few of them responded as they grabbed pitchforks and knives. “Let’s get her!’’ one of them yelled. They all came at Amelia at a rapid pace. She thought about running, but decided otherwise for she had nothing left to go home to, even if she had a home. Just then, a loud thundering voice echoed through the village.
“That is my daughter, who is not only a princess but she is my little princess and you will all treat her like it, okay?" the king roared. “Come here, now!” he said to Amelia. She weakly took small steps as she stared at the ground. She stopped when she saw her fathers shoes. The princess closed her eyes as her father put his arms around her. She looked up at his face, with shock and her father smiled at her. Allison came over and hugged both of them, too.
“I love you, dad.’’ Amelia said.
“I love you, too, sweetheart. Your mother and I should have tried harder so this didn’t happen and I should have recognized my own daughter instead of putting her in the dungeon. Let's make up for the time we could have spent together."
The Land of Null
By Liam Harris
She sat on a bench in the lookout area of her family’s tower. Violet studied her mountainous surroundings before returning inside. This was nothing like her old home. She wanted to be back in nature where the trees towered over her, and the grass was uncut.
Now, she couldn’t even bear to be outside for ten minutes. She laid down on her cat and sighed. She wished the Raflers never existed. When Violet heard a knock on the door, she jumped. She had been so deep in thought she must have forgotten where she was. She cracked the door, and she slowly pulled it open.
Her father walked in, nearly tripping Violet. “We gathered only 12 eggs today,” her father muttered. That would only get them 60 Kriboda at the market. “We also slaughtered one today.”
Sixty Kriboda plus 25 is 85. “That’s enough to pay for some meals without those stupid Raflers,” she thought. She could even get this new pasta thing at the Spring Festival. The Spring Festival was coming in about a week from now. Violet could barely wait. She saved up 50 Kriboda for attendance and 65 Kriboda for the buffet.
Violet stepped into her father’s Fugit Navi, their old, rusted flying boat, and headed southeast. Maybe some of her home’s dragos will be there. She may even see the Monarch. She’d never been to one of these festivals before. After passing security and paying for the attendance and buffet, Violet walked into the gigantic dining hall. She’d never seen a table so big she could already smell her home’s flowers, the dragos, and became hungry.
She looked around and was so happy that she didn’t have to eat those disgusting bird monsters that we call Raflers. Through all of these people she could see who was at the end of the table. The Monarch sat in her special throne.
But, behind her, there was a man dressed in all black, and he was crawling up behind her. Violet yelled, “Look out!” Everyone turned to look at her. The man cackled in a raspy voice. He took out a military only weapon and stuck it in the air. It was a bomb.
To be continued….
The Dark Light
By Ella McNutt
I had no idea that today would be the day that I became the enemy of the planet. I stepped outside and looked at the grey sky.
“Gabbie!” Alex shouted from the bus stop. “C’mon. We’re going to be late!” she cried. I ran over to her.
“What’s so important about today?” I asked.
“Have you forgotten?! Today we see what powers we have!”
“Oh Yeah. I did forget.”
Alex and I are opposites. She is so nice and she loves school while I’m sarcastic and hate school. We sat down on the yellow bus, and we road to school. When we got there, all the kids were buzzing. Everyone was talking about what powers they wanted.
“I hope I get water!”
“I hope I get earth!”
“I have to get fire!” I heard kids saying.
“I hope I get light or plant,” Alex told me. “What about you?”
“Well maybe fire. Or even…darkness.” I said.
“Darkness!! No way!” she cried.
“Whatever.” I said.
Then we went to the theater to see what we’d get. About 30 kids went before us; before we heard the principal say, “Alex, you’re up.” She shot me a smile and hurried down the steps towards the stage. Then we heard “Light!” Everyone cheered.
“Gabbie, come on up,” the principal said as I climbed to the stage. Alex was next to me. The principal’s hands lit up in a bright silver light, and he put his hands on my temples. He closed his eyes then he stepped back, his eyes wide with fear.
“D-darkness!” he yelled.
Everyone screamed. Alex stepped back. Later in the day ,I found everyone but Alex was avoiding me. There were whispers in the halls as I passed. Today, we’d also see who got the Staff of Power, a tool that can control the planet. When they were announcing it, the staff called to me. Then the principal said, “Alex!” Everyone cheered.
I was so mad. “That should have been mine!” I cried. I raised my hand to Alex ,and she was shot back by a cloud of dark smoke. I grabbed it, and the world went dark. Everyone screamed. I flew out of the theater and into the red sky. I did it. I was the queen…but I was also the world’s enemy…
This was all mine! All mine! I hit the staff to the ground, and a wave of smoke flew across the whole world. I was in control. The world was mine.
I held the staff in my hands. It was glowing purple. I flew into the air and a cloud of smoke followed me. It rose up and became the shape of a dark palace on a floating island. Then the smoke turned into dark grey-purple bricks. It became a floating island with dark-purple grass and a huge palace. I floated inside and sat on a throne of skulls. I created servants and guards. They followed my every command. The throne was nice and comfy. A long blood-red carpet led to my throne from the door.
“Guards!” I yelled.
“Yes, your majesty?” Jeff, my favorite guard, said.
“Bring me Alex Smith,” I said.
He floated off with his grey wings. About 20 minutes passed and he came carrying Alex.
“What happened to you?” Alex said in a low, shaky voice. “You’ve changed,” she said. Tears rolled down her cheeks.
“I NEVER changed,” I said. “I’ve always been this way, but you’ve been so blind with happiness and positive thoughts that you never noticed, “I spat. “Guards, take her to the dungeon.”
Alex was pulled away, and I sat back down on my throne. I could hear her distant screams.
“Gabbie! This isn’t you! GABBIII!”
But she was wrong. I held my staff as it glowed and conjured a storm. Lightning struck the ground, and rain and hail thundered over the whole planet. The sky swirled with anger. People screamed. I could hear the news in my magic mirror. I looked over and heard, “something horrible is happening! The skies are red, and the world has darkened. We have no id...” A bolt of lightning struck behind the reporter, and I heard glass breaking before it turned to static.
I was in control. I started sending guards to pick up people and put them in the dungeon for no reason. I guess it was for fun. People were calling me the Evil Queen or the Evil Ruler. I liked both. I also made horrible frightening monsters that walked or flew the earth. Some even swam. Everything was my way, exactly how I liked it. I was the planet’s enemy. I was everyone’s enemy. I could do anything with the staff. My favorite thing? Giving people horrible nightmares at night. I also watched people, and I even changed the future.
I was going to rule forever! Servants did my bidding; guards took care of business. I ruled and took revenge on all who wronged me. My dungeon had over 100,000 people inside. I could do anything I wanted. I was free, and the world was my playground.
Alex had always gotten everything she wanted. She had parents, a family. I had no one. She got the perfect power—so many friends! I had the worst power, and I had one friend and lived in an orphanage. She was supposed to get the staff. At least I got one thing I wanted. I was so tired of living in the shadows; it was time that I got something I wanted.
I broke down in tears. I knew it was wrong, but I wanted something to go my way so badly…even if it was just one thing.
by Olivia Toteras
They stood outside the house, watching, waiting, unsure of what would happen if they went inside. Their sneakers flattened the brown, wilted grass as they shuffled nervously. The boy took a few steps toward the big, wooden, double doors. The girl watched anxiously as the boy looked at the house. I almost laughed. He really was going to go inside. He glanced up toward the window where I watched them. He couldn’t see me, but it was almost like he could sense my presence. I quickly moved myself away from the window and almost bumped into the crystal ball. I steadied it and then chided myself for thinking that he really could see me. But the thought was still there and I suddenly wondered why he was here. People usually came on dares, but no one had ever tried to go in.
Except for Owen. That was the boy that came here 15 years ago. He had come in, and as if that wasn’t enough, he went up to the 7th floor! The forbidden floor. Of course he was put through many tests and trials to make sure he was worthy to face the demon. He passed through but was killed by the demon. It turns out he was here on a dare. A dare to steal the crystal ball. It was guarded by the demon for a reason. The crystal ball was a thing that could revolutionize technology for better or for worse. It could make global warming disappear or it could generate enough nuclear power to destroy whole continents in one hit.
So if the boy wasn’t here on a dare, then why was he here? Of course they could also be here on a dare, but most dares were spitting on the dead lawn or knocking on the front door and then running away. And the girl? Who was she? A sister? A friend? All these thoughts running through my head had given me a headache. I could almost feel the boy’s eyes on me through the window, seven stories down. Maybe he was the One.
I shivered-though not because of the cold- and returned to the window, where the boy’s eyes were still looking in my direction. I had better be more careful in the future. I would get to work right away. If he was the One, I could not let him escape. The girl tapped him on the shoulder and asked him what was wrong. He said something, and pointed directly at me. I wondered if she could see me, too. She shrugged and nodded toward the doors. He said something to her and then returned his attention to the doors. I watched as he tugged on the rusty, metal knocker. The girl rushed forward to help him. The children pulled on it for a long while until the rusty hinges gave way and the door swung open with a loud creak. When they went inside, I smiled despite myself and whispered, “Beware, children.” They had no idea what they were getting themselves into.
I shuffled nervously on the dead lawn. What was I thinking? Coming to the haunted house and trying to go in? I must be crazy. Ava tapped my shoulder.
“Well? What are you waiting for?” “Umm… Well I…” I stammered.
“Oh come on! Don’t tell me you’re too chicken to go inside!” She said sarcastically.
“What? No! I’m not chicken, you are!” I yelled, defensively. Ava rolled her eyes. I was actually a little scared but I would never tell her that.
I felt bad, dragging her into this mess and then being too scared too go through with it. But who else was I supposed to ask to come with me? All the guys at my school made fun of me and all the girls didn’t even know I existed. I could’ve asked my sister or brother but they are both annoying and would’ve just laughed at me if I did something wrong. So I asked the only person I could think of that wouldn’t do anything too mean to me. And Ava is my friend who I’ve known for almost 4 years.
A dark shape in the corner of my eye dragged me out of my thoughts. I snapped my head towards it and squinted my eyes, trying to see what it was. It was in the window on the 7th floor. The forbidden floor. I shivered. The dark blob disappeared but I knew that it was still there. I could sense it. I shook my head. What was I thinking? It was probably just my imagination. Still I felt as if it was more then just something my brain made up. Ava tapped me on the shoulder, and asked what was wrong. I pointed towards the window and said,
“Look. Up there in that window. Do you see it?” She shook her head. “The dark blob,” I said insistently.
“Nope, I don’t see it.” She shrugged and nodded towards the doors. “Come on! I don’t have all day!”
“Okay, okay!” I looked at the doors for a while and she punched me in the arm. “Ow!” I ran to the doors and tried pulling on the metal knocker. It was really cold, rusty, and it hurt to touch. Must be some kind of magic to keep people from entering. Still I persisted, pulling on it until I couldn’t take the pain. Ava saw my struggles and ran to help me. We pulled on it for a long time until it finally swung open with a loud creak. We high-fived each other and looked into the doorway, trying to see something through the shadows. We looked at each other one more time and then went inside.
* * *
It was dark. So dark. I couldn’t see anything and I kept bumping into walls.
“Ow!” Ava cried. “You bumped into me!”
“Sorry,” I said sheepishly. “I can’t see.”
“I can’t see either. Did you even think about bringing a flashlight?”
“Uhhh… I don’t know?” I mumbled, embarrassed. I hated being embarrassed. Ava sighed, which made me feel even more embarrassed, and suggested that we stick to the right wall. I was unsure but it was our only plan, so I went with it. We walked for about 2 minutes before we came to a fork in the road. Ava said we should still stick to the right but I said we should try the left. We argued for a while, and then Ava suggested something so terrible and horrible that I almost cried.
“Maybe we should split up. You know, I take the right and you take the left.” I gasped.
“You think we should split up!?” I cried. “Are you crazy? You must be crazy! We can’t split up in this place! It is dark and we don’t know what is waiting for us in one of those tunnels. What if there is something horrible on the left side and it eats me? Then what?” I shivered just thinking about it.
“Then everyone in the future will know to never take the left. Also I will be right and you will be wrong.” Ava said. I clenched my fists. Deep breaths… I told myself. Deep breaths… I can’t get worked up here. It is not worth it. If I start yelling, who knows what will hear us and know that their dinner has come. Images of gigantic spiders and scary clowns filled my head. Deep breaths…
As soon as I am not able to see them anymore, I go over to the crystal ball. At first, all I can see is fog, and then it clears up to reveal the children. The boy keeps bumping into walls. It seems that the girl is the intelligent one. Strange…The darkness surrounds them as the girl scolds the boy for not bringing a flashlight. A flashlight won’t help you. Not here. I think to myself. Time to lay the first trap.
The demon. The one thing that guards the crystal ball. I am the keeper, not the guardian. It is the demon’s job to protect it, but it only comes when called. I bite my tongue in anger. I am incapable of calling the demon. Only the One can call him. I should be the One. I should be able to control the crystal ball and the demon. I am a wizard! I was born into a family of wizards, but not one of us could control the crystal ball. All I can do is look in the crystal ball! I have tried multiple times. I have had many theories about how you become the One but none of them have been correct. One of them was that if you kill the One and drink its blood then you become the One. Incorrect. Owen was my test subject for that. The only thing I know about it is that a One is born every 15 years. And it has never been a girl. Another glance at the crystal ball tells me that I need to control myself. The children have already moved. They are sticking to the right wall. Smart… But this was the girl’s idea. I feel like I am missing something…
A sound jerks me out of my thoughts. I turn back to the crystal ball. The boy is yelling because the girl suggested that they should split up in my little maze. I stifle a laugh.
“There are no human-eating creatures in my maze right now,” I whisper, dreamily. “But who knows? I might get inspired.” I slide back into my thoughts as the children continue arguing. I get bored of hearing and decide to have some fun. After a second, a thick fog settles over the maze. “This should play with their minds a little.” The children are suddenly weary and sit down. The boy rubs his eyes and the girl yawns. I smile. Good, I think to myself. Finally, they decide to sleep on it and decide when they wake up. Sweet dreams…