Inklings Youth Advisory Board Writers Group: Sadie Miller
This summer our Inklings Youth Advisory Board Writers Group chose a topic to write about. The goal of this project is for us to stretch ourselves to explore new topics and formats in our writing, share our work with others, be open to feedback, and enjoy collaborating with other writers. The theme is Shadows. Enjoy reading!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
by Sadie Miller
The Great Abyss is where Shadows dwell.
We all go to the Abyss in the end, but we call that trip Death. There is no way to escape, as the dimensions within fold and twist every few moments. When the place does let a soul go to find a new life, it is timely and specific. But when Death comes, what becomes of the Shadows?
Shadows come from the Great Abyss. They claw their way up from the seemingly bottomless void in which they have no purpose. Why anyone would stay anywhere where they had no true value is beyond me. (You see, no one has any particular value in the Abyss…it’s quite a long and strange side effect of the place that travels beyond human comprehension.) They are born in this Abyss, and when they leave and cling on to a being, they become dark and noticeable.
A Shadow has to take the journey of climbing the Abyss wall. The long and tube-like tunnel, I hear, has two sectors. The bottom sector has rough, dark edges and embers encrusted in some places. The upper sector walls are light and airy, like misty rainbows. The nearly tangible clouds drifting through the top sector must make the end of the journey a difficulty.
Shadows then attach to a soul. Should these souls need protecting, they will do their very best to deliver. Souls need protecting from all kinds of things; it’s a little ridiculous how many. As it could take quite a while to name off those things, I’ll let you imagine them for yourself. So how, you must ask yourself, do the shadows know how to protect from all of these mysterious things? They have experience. Shadows are seldom new; old shadows will clamber from the Great Abyss and find new masters and mistresses. They are guardians. They follow their owner like new puppies, and are prepared to do so for all eternity. Unfortunately, only Shadows are truly around for that long. So when their owners die, they are sent to the Abyss once more.
The cycle of a Shadow is a wide loop, and it goes differently each time. The bottom line is that shadows are more that reflections. They are truly magic, in no good or bad way.
2017 Inklings Book Contest finalist: Alvina Mastakar
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Alvina Mastakar! Alvina finished 4th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “The Secret of the Other World”. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
The Secret of the Other World
by Alvina Mastakar
+++++Lilly was looking closely and carefully at the dogs, one after another. Lilly was at the pet shop and she was going to get a dog! All her life, Lilly wanted to get a dog, and she finally convinced her parents to get one! “Lilly, we should get this one!” Lilly’s dad exclaimed, pointing to a black dog with rough fur. “No, not that one,” Lilly replied, looking at his dull fur. “His fur looks too shaggy and boring.” “How about a poodle?” Lilly’s mom questioned her. “No, not that one either. Poodles are not fun to play with.”
+++++But just then, she saw this dog, a perfect dog, a dog with fuzzy, warm, brown fur. Her eyes sparkled, as if the dog wanted to tell her something. Lilly walked up to the dog and saw her name on the collar. ‘Brownie’, what a perfect name for her, Lilly thought. Right that moment Lilly knew that she should get Brownie. “I want to buy this one,” Lilly said, loud and clear hoping her parents would agree. They were both looking at each other, thinking what they should decide. Then, together, they said, “Yes, absolutely!”
+++++That moment Lilly just wanted to jump in the air and yell, “Yay! Hooray!” She wanted to do a happy dance and jump all around the store. She could not believe that the dream she had wished for all her life had come true. But she was in a store, so she couldn’t jump all around. They bought the dog and took her home.
+++++“Mom, Dad, can I play with Brownie?” Lilly asked. “Sure, of course Lilly,” Lilly’s parents replied. So, Lilly and Brownie went to the backyard. Lilly got a stick and threw it, expecting Brownie to run and fetch it. Instead, Brownie barked, “You expect me to fetch that dirty stick?! That thing has been covered with mud! What kind of game is that? How would you like it if I threw a dirty stick at you and expect you to fetch it!?”
+++++Lilly was really stunned. “I think my imagination is running wild,” Lilly thought out aloud. “I think I just heard the dog talk to me.” “You just did,” Brownie stated. “But, how?” Lilly fainted because she couldn’t believe it.
+++++Her own dog had talked. The dog looked like an ordinary dog. But it just didn’t make any sense! An ordinary dog, with ordinary fur, with ordinary everything, everything but how the dog talked. “Wow, you are heavy,” Brownie muttered, trying to pull Lilly back inside the house. Brownie pulled Lilly inside the house and then got some tap water to sprinkle on her. Soon after Lilly woke up, Brownie told Lilly the whole story.
+++++“But that’s not possible,” Lilly objected. “Yes, it is true. Let me explain to you what happened. So, I am from another world. The world I live in is really different from here.” “Of course, why wouldn’t it be? It’s another world, after all.” “Yeah, I know that, but the thing is that I am a person, not a dog. In my world, I am a person, but when I am in your world, I become a dog.” “Oh, that makes more sense why your world is really different from mine,” Lilly said thinking about it. “There is more information I think you will want to know,” Brownie told Lilly. “There is more?!” Lilly asked, filled with curiosity.
+++++“Yes, there is more. I got sent here, to your world, because I had a mission to find out some information about your planet. Nobody warned me that I would turn into a dog after I came here. So, when I came here I was lost and I didn’t know where to go. Then, some human found me and took me to the pet shop. That’s the last thing I remember because I fell asleep.”
+++++“Oh, now that makes even more sense,” Lilly said, nodding her head, suddenly understanding what had happened. “Well, what should we do now?” Brownie asked Lilly. “I am not sure, maybe we should…” “Hi Lilly,” Lilly’s mom interrupted them. “Hi Mom,” Lilly replied. “Did I hear you talking to someone?” “Mom, I was just talking to my friend, Emily,” Lilly lied. “Maybe we can have a playdate another time Emily!” Lilly shouted, pretending that Emily was standing outside the house. “Oh, and Mom?” “Yes, Lilly?” her mom replied. “Where did dad go?” “He had to go to work. Why were you asking?” “No particular reason. I was just wondering,” Lilly replied.
+++++Ring! Ring! “Oh, the phone is ringing upstairs! I better go get it!” “Lilly, thank you so much!” Brownie said with relief, after Lilly’s Mom rushed upstairs to get the phone. “If you told your mom the truth, then she would have mentioned it to her friends, and her friends would have passed the news to the whole community! That would have been really terrible!” “You’re welcome, Brownie,” Lilly replied courteously.
+++++“Lilly, this may sound weird, but your mom looks very familiar. I think that we have met before, but I just can’t recall where.” “It does sound weird. Maybe your imagination is just running wild!” teased Lilly. “Hmmm, maybe…….” Brownie thought.
+++++“Hey, Lilly, I’ve got an idea! Maybe we can go to my world so you can explore my world. So, what do you think?” “That’s an awesome idea! But I think there is a problem. What if my mom realizes that I am gone?” “No problem,” Brownie reassured Lilly, “all I have to do is to turn her into an ice cube.” “You have powers, Brownie? That’s amazing! I wish I had powers!” “Yeah, I can do magic, but I am not that good since I just started learning how to use it. So, should I turn your mom into an ice-cube now?” “No, wait, don’t do it yet! I don’t want to live with a frozen Mom!” “Don’t worry, I will make the spell in such a way that when we enter the house again, she will turn back to normal. I am not that good at magic, but it’s better than nothing.” “So, do your magic, Brownie,” Lilly remarked.
+++++They went upstairs to find Lilly’s mom, but she wasn’t there. They came down again, and found her cleaning up the living room. As soon as Brownie saw her, she moved her paws in the air in a certain way and then Lilly’s mom turned into an ice-cube. Mom looks very interesting inside the ice-cube, Lilly thought. “See, it’s a piece of cake. Now let’s go through my personal portal.” Brownie got this portal which was hiding inside her collar. “Come on, let’s go Lilly,” Brownie called, eager to show Lilly where she lives. “Okay,” Lilly answered, excited of what this adventure would turn out to be. Nervous, but also very excited, Lilly went inside the portal, and so did Brownie. “Wow, this place looks so cool!” Lilly gasped, looking around at the colorful portal. The portal was rainbow colored and the colors were moving around. Soon, the fascinating portal had come to an end.
+++++In Brownie’s world, everything seemed so tall and the grass seemed so close to Lilly’s face. Then, she looked at Brownie in awe, who had turned into a human. Brownie had brown hair, blue eyes and looked much taller than Lilly. Instead of having a black collar that said Brownie, she had a nametag that said ‘Grace’. Then suddenly Lilly looked at her own hands, which had turned into paws.
“Here, look at yourself,” Brownie revealed, handing a mirror to Lilly, who was totally astonished. Lilly took the mirror from Brownie with her brown paws and looked at herself. “What?!?” Lilly was so surprised of how she looked like. “I’m a dog! But, how …” “It’s all very simple,” Brownie remarked. “Remember how I told you that when I came to your world I was transformed into a dog? Well, since in your world, you are a human, in my world you are a dog.”
+++++“Yeah, but I’m still confused,” Lilly responded, looking at Brownie’s nametag. “Oh, this. My real name is actually Grace, but my nickname is Brownie, because my hair looks like the color of a brownie. I have two nametags. One, which has the name ‘Grace’ on it, and the other which has ‘Brownie’ on it. I wear both nametags, but I mostly wear the one that says ‘Brownie’.” “But why do you have to wear a nametag?” Lilly asked, hoping that Brownie wouldn’t get too tired of answering all her questions. “Well, everyone who lives here has a job and my job is to welcome the new people who come,” Brownie explained. “Oh, okay,” Lilly nodded, no longer filled with questions.
+++++“Welcome, welcome,” Brownie greeted as she saw some new people she had never seen before enter inside her world. “My name is ‘Grace’. Call me ‘Brownie’, that’s what I would prefer.” “Hi Brownie!” a little girl waved standing next to her mom, looking around the new place she had entered. “My name is Gloria.” “Hello Brownie,” Gloria’s mom said. “My name is Liza. We’ve come here to live with our family. I’ve heard how beautiful it is outside. I can’t wait until my children learn how to do magic!” “Well, set your bags down and go explore!” Brownie suggested. “I hope you enjoy living here.”
+++++“Okay, now let’s explore. I think you’re going to love it here.” “Yeah, I think I’m liking it already,” Lilly admitted. “So this is the library,” Brownie said, having a happy look in her eyes. “This is my favorite place to go. All my memories are here. Like, for instance, my friend Lucy and I did some mischief when we were really little. At night, when everyone was asleep, we got out all the pencils from the librarian’s desk and hid them in places. We heard someone coming and we didn’t want anybody to know we were there, and we were still hiding pencils. We got so scared and surprised, we dropped the pencils on the floor and hid. The next morning, when the librarian unlocked the library and let everyone in, she slipped on the pencils we had dropped. We were laughing so much when we heard the news from our friends.” “That must have been hilarious!” Lilly laughed, sounding like a maniac, laughing so hard.
+++++“So, can I meet your parents? I can’t wait to meet them! They must be really nice.” “Sorry Lilly, but you can’t,” Brownie murmured in despair. “You just can’t!” “What’s wrong?” Lilly whispered to Brownie in a soft voice. “Are you okay?” “Yeah, I’m alright. It’s just that – well, let me tell you what happened. You deserve to know.” Reluctantly, Brownie told the story. “So, I was really young, like about two years old. My parents had got sent for a mission too, the same as mine, to find some information on planet Earth. My parents had a wristwatch, just in case if they got lost, other people on my planet could locate them. Unfortunately, my parents lost their wristwatches somehow and got lost. They also lost their magical portal that leads us back to our world. My parents were nowhere to be found.” “It is okay, Brownie,” Lilly said sympathetically. “Let’s just forget about it, okay.”
+++++Brownie continued giving Lilly a tour all around her community. Lilly glanced at her watch. “I should go back home now,” Lilly sighed after sometime, wondering if she would ever come back to this wonderful planet. “It’s getting late. Thanks for bringing me here. It has been a wonderful experience coming here.” “You’re welcome. You’re welcome here anytime. Here,” Brownie said, handing a bracelet with a heart charm. “Any time you want to visit here, just get some of the sparkly, golden dust from this bracelet and sprinkle it on yourself. That will bring you to my planet. When you want to go back home, just sprinkle more of the golden dust on you.” “Thank you, this is so kind and thoughtful of you. I know that I can go home from using my bracelet, but can we go home by your portal, so we have a longer time to say goodbye?” “Sure! I’ll just get my portal and drop you home.” Brownie threw a little square shaped thing in the air and apparently that little square turned into a big, humongous portal. Lilly and Brownie stepped into the portal together and shortly arrived at Lilly’s warm, cozy house.
+++++“Bye Brownie!” Lilly said. “I’ll see you later.” “Bye!” Brownie called after Lilly. “I’ll be heading back now.” To Brownie’s surprise, Lilly called after her to come back. Brownie stepped out from the portal and asked what was wrong. “What’s wrong?” Brownie wondered. “What’s wrong? I’ll tell you what’s wrong. What’s wrong is my mother. You said my mother was going to turn back to normal when we entered my house. She is still frozen! What did you do to my mother!?!”
+++++“I told you I wasn’t that good at Magic. Oh, no. I just realized …” “Ugh, more bad news,” Lilly broke in. “As I was saying, I just realized that I might have frozen your mother forever. I am so sorry. It’s all my fault. I shouldn’t have done that.” “It wasn’t all your fault. I should have not agreed with you. Well, I guess there’s nothing we can do.” “No Lilly, no. I don’t ever quit, and neither should you. I know there is a solution. There’s always a solution when there is a problem. We just need to think.”
+++++“The first thing we need to do is close all the curtains and doors. That way the neighbors would have no chance of coming inside or looking inside and seeing my mom as an ice-cube.” “Good thinking,” Brownie said as she and Lilly rushed around the house, closing doors and curtains. Brownie thought for a moment. “Lilly, I think we should go back to my world. Maybe there is a potion, or some magic we can use. Anyway, nothing is going to help us here. There’s no magic here, but there is in my world.” “You’ve got a point. Let’s go.”
“Wait a second! I just realized something else! If we find some type of magic to save your mom, we only have seven hours to save her!” “Hey, how do you know that?” Lilly questioned. “It’s Rule #1 of Magic: To undo a mistake from Magic, one only has seven hours to fix that mistake.” “So we spent about five hours at your world so…….WE ONLY HAVE TWO HOURS TO SAVE MY MOM?!!!!?” “Sorry?” Brownie apologized in a small whisper. “We have no time for your sorry! Let’s go!” So, once again, they both dashed inside the portal.
+++++“Is there a place where all of the potions are, Brownie?” “Yes, in fact, there is. Follow me.” Brownie led Lilly to a building called the Special Magic Building, (also known as the S.M. Building). The S.M. Building looked like it had nothing to do with magic. But as Brownie led the way inside the building, deep inside the building, Lilly figured out how wrong she was. There was a clock, an unusual clock that had swirls on it, instead of numbers. “Here, in my world, we write our language more differently than how you do,” Brownie explained, seeming to read Lilly’s mind, answering Lilly’s question, even before Lilly asked it. “So those are the numbers in your language?” “No, those are words.” “Why are there words on that clock?” “Well, I’m about to tell you. Anyway, you’re probably wondering what the words mean. It says, ‘Secret Passageway’. That’s pretty smart, because if a bad guy comes to my world, he doesn’t know the language we use here, and he won’t know that the clock says, Secret Passageway.” “You’re right. That is smart. The clock is kind of a disguise. It’s a place where nobody will expect a secret passageway to be.”
+++++“Now, I guess I’ll open the secret passageway.” So, Brownie pressed at the middle, top, bottom, and then middle of the clock again, and then the clock automatically got pushed away. Behind the clock, the numbers zero to nine were revealed. Brownie clicked ‘1320955’ and the solid brown wall that had numbers on it had separated into two parts, revealing a staircase. Lilly didn’t know how, but it just did.
+++++There were some steps leading down to the basement of the S.M Building. It looked dark and scary in the secret passageway. Cobwebs and dust filled the place. “Do we have to go inside there to find a solution?” Lilly complained. “Well, we don’t have to, but if you want your mother to be unfrozen, then we’ll have to go down there,” Brownie reminded her. “Okay, fine, but where is the light switch?” “There’s no light switch. However, I do have a torch I can light a flame on so that we can see.” “Sure, but be careful,” Lilly cautioned Brownie. Brownie followed Lilly’s advice and lit the flame carefully. Together they walked down the stairs. “Wow, it’s really hard to walk down these steps, especially since I turned into a dog,” Lilly stated.
+++++When the two girls came down to the bottom of the stairs, Lilly saw all the potions. There were little cups with green or purple liquids in them, ready to be mixed. There was also a big shelf with big books, ready to be read. “We should read one of these books,” Brownie advised, pointing to the top shelf. “Why? Is it because those books might have a solution of how to unfreeze my mother?” “No, it’s because the books are ready to read.” “That’s silly. What do you mean? Any book is ready to read. It’s not like a book will start annoying you and say, ‘Read me! Read me! I’m ready to be read!’” “Read me!” a book began. Lots of books joined him. “Read us! Read us!” they all chanted. “We’re ready to be read. We’re ready to be read!”
+++++“You were saying Lilly,” Brownie said. “Okay, fine, I was wrong,” Lilly admitted. “But how do we get these noisy, loud, annoying books to be quiet?” “I have a technique. Watch this. I wonder which book I’m going to read. I’m probably going to choose one which is super quiet!” Brownie half yelled, half talked over the rowdy books, making sure they would hear. A sudden silence fell over the books. “See, it’s really easy.” “Thanks Brownie. I never knew books could be so loud.” “You’re welcome Lilly. Now I think we should get back to work.” “Yeah,” Lilly agreed.
+++++“Maybe the book lying on the table will help us, Brownie.” Brownie got the book and flipped to the front cover. It wrote, ‘Ways to Help you in Magic.’ Everything in the book was in alphabetical order, so you could find things more easily. Brownie turned some pages and got to the page she wanted. Lilly read, “If you accidentally freeze someone into an ice cube forever, you should go to Jane Brown, the ruler of our world.”
+++++“Hey, that’s my mother!!!” they both shrieked at the same time. “What? This is confusing!” both of them blurted out. “Stop saying everything I say!” they growled together. “Ha, ha, ha,” they giggled at the same time, suddenly realizing what had happened. “I can’t believe it! We are actually sisters!!! I think I know what had happened, Brownie.” “Me too! You can share what you think had happened first.”
+++++“So, when you said our parents had gone on a mission when you were really young, I was probably not born yet, because if I was, I would have been living here with you, not on Earth. I was born on Earth during our parents’ mission. They lost their portal and lost contact with this place. I guess that’s why we’re long lost sisters. What do you think?”
+++++“That was the exact story I thought. I was just wondering, but do you have these things, like visions? I hear these voices calling, ‘Brownie, Lilly, help! I can’t use my magic because my hands are frozen.’ I see our mother frozen in the vision. Do you see something like that?” “Yes, I do. It’s like a signal or warning. I don’t know why, but I have a feeling that something weird or bad is going to happen if we don’t do something fast!”
+++++“We should continue reading the book. It might help us and lead us to unfreeze our mother.” “If that’s not possible, there is no spell or potion to help you, but you can go to the Wishing Tree and he might grant you a wish,” Lilly continued.
+++++“Bingo! We’ve got it. All we have to do is to go to the Wishing Tree. I went to the Wishing Tree before, but I forget where it is. A map is probably in here.” Hastily, the two sisters searched in the spooky, dark room and finally found it in a cabinet. “I found it!” Lilly burst out, breaking the silence. It was a very old map, since you could see it was folded, creased, and twisted. It was very delicate, so you couldn’t snatch it or grab it from someone else or it would tear. Quickly they hustled up the raggedy steps and closed up the secret passageway.
+++++The map directed them to go North, East, and to continue going east until you reach the Wishing Tree. The Wishing Tree was a long, long way from the S.M. Building. “How much longer until we reach?” Lilly asked Brownie while they were walking. “I know that it’s a long way, but remember, we need to save our mother. According to the map we’re really close. Oh, it’s right over there.” Brownie and Lilly looked up from the map and saw a brown tree with golden sparkles.
+++++It had eyes, a nose and a mouth, just like a human. “Hello Brownie! Who is your new friend here?” the tree questioned Brownie. “I am Lilly and you need to grant a wish for us,” Lilly answered, determined to get the wish they needed. “Sorry, but I can’t give you a wish. You do not live here, and only trusted people can get a wish. For example, Jane Brown, Brownie and the rest of her family.” Hearing this, Lilly was getting indignant.
+++++“Wishing Tree, Lilly is a part of my family. She’s my long lost sister. Please help us. It’s an emergency, and you’re the only one who can help us.” “What’s the problem? Is it really bad?” “Unfortunately, yes it is. The problem is that our mother is frozen into an ice-cube forever. We tried looking in a book in the S.M. Building, but all the book said was that you should go to Jane Brown or the Wishing Tree.”
+++++“I see now what the problem is. However, I might not have enough magic to do that, but I will try to the best of my ability.” “What?! But I heard people say that you almost have as much magic as my mother.” “No Brownie, I get my magic from your mother. She fills a bucket with her magic of golden sparkles, pours it on me, and that’s what causes me to grant wishes.” “But how do you still have magic within you? Our mom hasn’t been here for more than 9 years!” Brownie said. “Well, apparently, she can transport her magic from there to here.” “Oh, that makes more sense.”
+++++“So what are you waiting for?!” Lilly said impatiently. She looked at her watch. “We only have 5 minutes left!” Lilly yelled, her voice full of panic. “Start granting our wish, please!” “Okay, Lilly. I’m going to start now.” Excited of what was going to happen next, Lilly sat down below the tree. The Wishing Tree grunted, concentrating, when surprisingly a burst of silver and golden sparkles sprinkled on Lilly, and to her amazement she had turned sparkly all over! It was on her T-shirt, pants, hair and even her face! Lilly shook off some of the sparkles. “Ha, ha,” Brownie laughed. “You look like a sparkle monster.” “I know, I look like a sparkle monster.” Lilly and the Wishing Tree joined Brownie and all of them started laughing together.
+++++“I can’t believe it!” Lilly said, once everyone calmed down and stopped laughing. “Me neither! Our mom is unfrozen, and everything is back to normal! Thank you Wishing Tree!!!” “Yes, thank you Wishing Tree!!! You’ve helped us a lot! Thank you!” “You’re welcome, Brownie and Lilly! It was nice meeting you, Lilly!” “It was nice meeting you too, Wishing Tree!” “I guess we’ll be leaving now, Lilly.” “Right.” “Bye Brownie! Bye Lilly!” “Bye!” the two girls chorused.
+++++They bounced inside the portal, where all of Lilly’s sparkles wore off, and they arrived at Lilly’s house. Brownie turned into a dog again, and Lilly was once again a human. Lilly looked at the place where their mom was before, and saw her mother, her happy mother, her mother who was smiling so hard that Lilly wasn’t even sure if she was smiling!!!
+++++“Mom!” Lilly cried and ran to hug her. She was so happy to see her mother. Lilly wanted to hug her for hours and hours. “Mom,” Lilly beamed, “let me show you your other daughter.” Brownie stepped in front of Lilly and said, “Hello Mother.” “Grace, is that you?” “Yes, it is.” “Grace, I’ve missed you so much,” their mother whispered. Suddenly, the front door opened.
+++++“I’m home!!!” a familiar voice exclaimed. Lilly, Brownie, and their mother turned their heads to the door. It was their dad. He looked down at the floor where the ice cube was. It was flooded with water. “Whoa! What happened there?” “Dad, do you remember your other daughter?” Lilly asked. “Grace?” their dad said in a soft whisper. “Is that you?” “Yes, Father, it is.” “Oh, Grace!” he said joyfully. He bent down to hug her.
+++++After that, their mom did the same and crouched down to Brownie and hugged her. Later, both parents apologized together, “Lilly, we’re really sorry that we didn’t tell you that you had a sister.” “It’s ok,” Lilly said hugging her parents. “I’m sorry I froze you.” “It’s okay, Grace. Just don’t do it again.” “We’re sorry too, Grace,” their dad apologized again. “We should have found another way to come back to you. When we came here, both of us lost our watch and our portal. Your mother and I both tried to use magic to bring us back to our world, but we didn’t have enough magic to go back home. Even when we combined our magic, we still couldn’t do it. But your mother did have enough magic to turn me and herself into a human whenever we are on Earth, and to give magic to the Wishing Tree. You see, your mother is much more powerful than I will ever be.” “It’s okay Father!”
+++++“I guess you are wondering what had happened, Mom.” “Yes Lilly, I’m really wondering what had happened.” “It all began when we got Brownie from the pet shop and she started talking ………
2017 Inklings Book Contest finalist: Carson Redifer
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Carson Redifer! Carson finished 7th grade this past school year. The story he submitted is called “The Strictly Forbidden Woods” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
The Strictly Forbidden Woods
by Carson Redifer
+++++Today was my special day. The day I’ve been looking forward to for so long. I was taking my best friend William with me to the strictly forbidden woods. At least that’s what my parents called the dark and brushy area beyond our property line.
+++++What they didn’t know was that the strictly forbidden woods was my secret escape that allowed me to check out from reality and leave behind the pressures of homework and school. It was my escape to do and be who I wanted to be.
+++++Today was special though. I decided to bring along my friend William and share what I discovered to be the most special place on the planet. We left early in the morning and headed straight to the woods. We had no time to waste because there was a lot of ground to cover and we had to do it before dinner.
+++++As we made our way to the woods we veered off the beaten path to a slightly visible pathway that led to the secret hole in the brick wall that was covered in thick vines. The brick wall was taller than William and myself combined. I’m not exactly sure what it’s purpose was other than to keep people like us out.
+++++What no other person knew is that beyond the hole in the brick wall was my secret treehouse. This is no ordinary treehouse, it’s actually made from the trees themselves. There are no wooden planks or nails holding this treehouse together but rather tree branches and leaves twisted and fused in such an unusual way that its contortions created a makeshift treehouse like no other.
+++++As we approached the treehouse William’s eyes grew bigger and his draw dropped in astonishment. William craned his head so far back he stumbled backwards. We scaled up the tree trunk carefully. It wasn’t easy. We dug our fingernails into the tree bark for leverage as we hoisted ourselves up step by step. Once we got halfway up the tree we shimmied to the right jumping on the platform created from the trees. William was gasping deeply for air because the climb was so demanding. For me, it was just another climb up. I had been climbing this tree for at least a two years now.
+++++As we stood in my treehouse, the only thing you could see was the tops of the trees and my house. I loved my house, it was a mansion built back in 1940 (almost 62 years ago). My great, great grandfather built it from the ground up.
+++++I was happy William appreciated my treehouse. We arrived just in time to see the sun setting. William mumbled, “breathtaking.” He then slowly craned his neck to the right and noticed a gap in the tree canopy.
+++++“Hey, what’s over there?” William asked.
+++++“I don’t know. Want to check it out?” I asked.
+++++“Why not? We’ve got two hours until dinner,” William said.
+++++We scaled back down the tree. Well, I scaled down the tree. I can’t say much for William. He slid all the way down getting large slivers logged in his palms. You could hear him grimace and groan all the way down but he didn’t give in that he was afraid and somewhat nervous for what awaited us.
+++++William had what I would call a not-so-smooth landing. The ground rumbled at my feet
when he hit the ground. He popped up, dusted himself off and we started our journey to the mysterious gap in the tree canopy. Funny though, in all the years I’ve been coming to my treehouse, I never noticed the gap. Did it just appear? Did I just not pay attention? Now I’m curious.
+++++On our way there we kept noticing strange signs hidden in the leaves of the trees for three miles. Some signs said, BEWARE!, KEEP OUT!, COME IN AND PAY THE PRICE!, DEATH ROW! and IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE OTHER SIGNS, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY STUPID!
+++++As we briskly walked and followed the signs we started to realize whoever owned this property did not want any company. Every step we took we scanned what was ahead of us and what we had just left behind. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. I knew William was nervous too.
+++++“Hey, want to turn around? I’m getting the feeling that this isn’t a very nice place to be,” William said with a shaky voice.
+++++“Nah, whoever lived in the woods before probably moved out long ago and never took down the signs,” I said.
+++++We walked a bit further and I yelled, “Hey! What’s that over there?” I said, pointing forward. From what I could tell we finally made it to the gap in the trees.
+++++“It looks like an old cabin made of wood..” William replied.
+++++“Duh… Obviously it’s made of wood!” I said sarcastically. “Look, the door is wide open! Let’s go in. What the harm in that?”
+++++“Go in or stay out?” I questioned.
+++++“Stay out!” William yelled at me. I could tell now that he was scared out of his loafers.
+++++“Too bad, we’re going in!” I said excitedly.
+++++“Uuuuuugggghhhhhh!” William groaned.
+++++As we carefully tiptoed in the cabin the floor creaked so loudly that we knew for sure someone would discover us.
+++++It was dark and cold inside. Our eyes were slow to adjust to the darkness. We could feel the cold and the loneliness inside. Clearly it had not been inhabited for quite some time. We could make out the antique furniture and an old grandfather clock in the far right-hand corner. The windows were still there, but were boarded up. Every step we took we heard more glass breaking under our feet. As I looked at our feet, glass was shattered and strewn all throughout the floor and mixed with what looked like blood. It was so dark though, we weren’t sure if that was real or if our imaginations were just running wild, not to mention our adrenalin.
+++++“DUDE!!! Check this out, quick!” William yelled from a room down the narrow, dark hallway.
+++++“Coming!” I yelled back.
+++++Once I got there, I noticed a little dim light pointing at the wall. As my eyes further adjusted I noticed what was on the wall. I was shocked in disbelief, took a step back, stumbled and fell to the floor with a loud thump! Whatever I did I knew that I caused a commotion.
+++++“Dear God!” William said running to help me up. “Are you O.K?”
+++++“No! We need to get out of here right now!” I screamed.
+++++“Why?” William half asked and half demanded with a tone in his voice I had never heard before. I knew he was scared to death just like me.
+++++“This place is bad news. I remember now. On the news five years ago I remember watching that a serial killer was on the loose. He killed thirty people. And to date the murderer has never been found. I have a sick sense we may be the next two victims,” I said panicking and breathing heavily.
+++++“You picked a fine time to reminisce about the past! Hey, over there! A shadow!”
William pointed out.
+++++“No, no, no, no!!!!!!!!” I yelled. “We are in deep, deep trouble! It’s him, it’s him! I know it!”
+++++I yanked William out of that room as fast as I could and dragged him behind me as I ran down the hallway, out the door and into the woods. I kept running as fast as I could until I could find a tree to hide behind. Poor William, I literally dragged him by the collar the entire way.
+++++“Ssshhhh.” I said quietly. “It was the murderer. I know it. I don’t think he saw the direction in which we ran. I only hope he can’t hear my heart pounding.”
+++++Right after I whispered that, there was movement just beyond the bushes in front of the cabin. I could see the outline of a man dragging a deer and the sparkle of a butcher blade at least fifteen inches long. He swiftly turned in all directions clearly looking for William and I. You could tell he was irritated because we were no longer in direct sight. He turned again, walked back into the house and slammed the door.
+++++With a heavy sigh and my heart still racing, I said, “That was too close! I think we need to stop at the police station tomorrow and tell them what we saw.
+++++“Yeah,” William said. “Tomorrow for sure. Let’s hope we even get out of here tonight.”
+++++“Hey, call your Mom and tell her you’re going to sleep at my house tonight. Ok?” I said.
+++++“Ok!” William responded.
+++++We slowly turned to walk back to my house. We did our absolute best not to have a heavy footprint with each step. As we walked back to my house not saying a word we both knew we stumbled upon something that just wasn’t right. Neither one of us spoke the entire way home. But deep down inside, I knew William and I would go back again.
+++++“Hey boys! Where’ve you been?” My Mom asked.
+++++“We were at a creepy old ca-” William started to say but I hit him in the arm.
+++++Quickly I jumped in and said, “We went on a bike ride around town and went bowling. We’re exhausted and want to just go to my room.”
+++++“Ok, you boys have fun. I’m making pizza for dinner,” my Mom said. “I’ll call you when it’s done.”
+++++As we got into my room and shut the door behind us I said, “You almost busted us!”
+++++“Sorry, I didn’t mean to,” said William.
+++++“It’s alright. We were both a bit rattled and caught off guard. Now let’s set-up.” I said.
+++++After we got set up, we went downstairs and had dinner. We didn’t say much. We were both deep in thought as to what we saw and knew our curiosity would get the best of us. Deep down I knew we were going to go back.
After dinner while we were in my room we heard a loud crash and growling from the woods.
+++++“What the heck was that!?” William said panicked as we both fought to peek our heads outside of my bedroom window.
+++++In the far distance we saw a car lodged in a tree and on fire. After just a few seconds it exploded. It lit the sky up in a huge fireball.
+++++“Should we check it out?” William asked.
+++++“I think we should. Let’s gear up. My flashlights are in my closet and I’ll grab my backpack,” I said hastily.
+++++After we got all geared up, we snuck down the back stairs so my Mom wouldn’t catch us. We slowly opened the backyard gate and headed for the strictly forbidden woods once again.
As we made our way, we followed the car tracks and beaten down brush. It led us to end where the car had crashed.
+++++“Jesus, Mary, Joseph! There’s the car!” I exclaimed too loudly.
+++++I could hear William gulp. “I don’t feel like dying today, dude, so like, let’s high-tail it out of here right now,” pleaded William.
+++++“What’s the mat-” I tried to say but tripped over a rock. I was just about to land on the ground when William tripped on the same rock and fell on top of me.
+++++At that moment, I saw the silhouette of a luminous figure about three yards away from us getting closer and closer. Then I saw the glint of the moonlight once again on the shiny butcher knife blade.
+++++“RUNNNN!!!!!!” I yelled. “To the cabin, now!”
+++++We ran and ran as fast as we could then just ahead we saw the cabin.
+++++“We can make a trap in the entrance! It’s the safest way to go, if not, we’ll never see daylight again!” I yelled to William.
+++++We barged through the front door and started pulling all of the antique furniture that was at arm’s length in front of the door to barricade us in. I remembered I had my backpack with my ten essentials, including my entrapment equipment. If there was any time for my Boy Scout skills to shine and pull me through this was as good of a time as ever.
+++++As I took off my backpack to get out my entrapment supplies, William found a metal bucket with a brick inside. My supplies included a tripwire, a fishing line hook, a bungee cord, and a long thick rope. I put the bucket with the brick on the shelf above the entry door then I tied my fishing line hook to a tripwire and nailed it to the edges of the door frame. Fortunately a large entry rug was right where I needed it.
+++++“Okay, here he comes. Remember, when he opens the door and the brick falls on his head and he falls on the ground, wrap the entry rug around him as fast as you can,” I said to William. Once you’ve got him folded up in the rug, I’ll tie the bungee cord and rope around him as tight as I can. Whatever you do, do not let go of him!”
+++++As the man busted through the front door, the bucket fell releasing the brick which cracked him on the top of his head. He yelled out in pain and started to stagger throughout the room. Clearly, the brick did its job. It hit him with such a force that he lost his vision, fell and slipped into unconsciousness. He landed exactly where we needed him to, on the entry rug.
+++++“Now!” I screamed as William and I jumped out of our hiding spot, wrapped him up in the rug and tied him up with the ropes. His body was motionless.
+++++A few minutes later, we heard the sound of sirens closing in on us. Apparently the police had seen the plume of smoke and fire from the car crash. The police rushed the cabin and found William and I sitting atop the heaping rolled up entry rug.
+++++We sat there motionless and speechless not sure what had truly just happened. The police hauled away the rug and took us down to the police station. It was the quietest 10 minute ride of my life. We knew we were in deep, deep trouble.
+++++Once at the station William and I were put into separate rooms without windows, only a light, a table and two chairs. We were going to be interrogated.
+++++As I suspected, we were both questioned by police and fortunately told the same story from when we first entered the secret hole in the brick wall.
+++++Later that night, our Moms were allowed to come visit us at the police station. They were both teary-eyed but met us with open arms. We both received the hugs of our lives. We didn’t know at the time, but we single-handedly caught the murderer from years ago. We were heroes.
+++++We both went home that night and laid on our beds not able to sleep. Unfortunately the next day was a school day. Heroes or not we still had to go to school.
+++++As William and I met up in the school hallway just before lunch we were already scheming our next adventure to the strictly forbidden woods.
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Collin Goel! Collin finished 5th grade this past school year. The story he submitted is called “Clash Of The Primordials” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
Clash Of The Primordials
by Collin Goel
+++++“Get out of my way loser.”
+++++“Brendan, you know you could have better things to do than bully someone a year younger than you,” I replied. Brendan was a huge jerk, everyone knew that, but I wasn’t going to let him push me around.
+++++“Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m late for class.” Sprinting, I made it just in time for Mr. Bevan to give a lecture on why saying ‘can’ when you were supposed to say ‘may’ could destroy the universe. Maybe that’s not really what he was talking about, but seriously, an hour long lecture for that? Bored out of my mind, I doodled until the end of class.
+++++“Mr. Rickman, please stay for a few more minutes,” commanded Mr. Bevan as the recess bell rang. “I need to have a word with you.”
+++++“I wasn’t late or anything, so why am I in trouble?” I asked.
+++++“You’re not in trouble,” said Mr. Bevan, in a voice not quite human. “But any son of Pontus is directly against our ancient laws.”
+++++“I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, but sure,” I said.
+++++“I could smell the scent of the sea on you a mile away,” he said.
+++++“Who do you think I am?”
+++++“All will be explained in due time,” he responded.
+++++“Okay,” I said, trying to act calm as I walked out of the room. As soon as I was out, I sprinted. As I ran around a corner, I bumped into someone unknown.
+++++“Hello Ajax,” Brendan said. “Mr. Bevan was right, you do smell like the sea.” Not again, I thought and turned to walk the other way.
+++++“Not so fast,” he growled. I heard a whistling sound, and a long, black spike hit the wall in front of me. I turned to face him and my vision went black.
+++++I awoke to the smell of the woods and strawberries and opened my eyes.
+++++“Shh, it’s ok,” said Mr Bevan, standing over me.
+++++“Where are we?” I asked. “Who are you and why am I here?”
+++++“We are currently in a remote area in New York. I need clearance to bring you in,” he said.
+++++“What do you mean ‘bring me in’?”
+++++“I’m trying to bring you into Camp Half-Blood, a place for demigods like you to train.”
+++++“Demigod?” I asked.
+++++“Someone who is half-god, half-human.”
+++++“Do you seriously expect me to believe that I’m half-god?”
+++++“Never ending questions,” he grumbled. “You’re not exactly a demigod, which is why I need clearance to bring you in. You’re a son of Pontus, who’s literally the sea.”
+++++“Okaaay,” I said, and then I noticed his legs, they weren’t human. They were furry and smelled like a wet animal.
+++++“Please explain to me why you have dog legs,” I asked.
+++++“I’m a satyr, and they’re goat legs.”
+++++“Are goat legs supposed to make me feel better? Plus, satyrs aren’t real, and neither are demigods.”
+++++“That’s what I’m trying to tell you. Greek mythology is real. Brendan was a creature called a ‘manticore,’ he was trying to kill you.”
+++++“Nasty creatures. They’re lions with the faces of humans and can shoot spikes out of their tail.” That explained the spike.
+++++“Back to Pontus. You said he was the god of the sea?” I asked.
+++++“Poseidon is the god of the sea, Pontus is the primordial god who literally is the sea,” he said. Across the hill, a rustling made me look up. A thin satyr with chestnut fur hobbled over the hill, waving at Mr. Bevan.
+++++“You can bring him in,” he said in a shrill voice.
+++++“Well, we have clearance,” Mr. Bevan said. As I walked up the hill, a large pine tree stood straight in the middle, with a snake coiled around it. The snake turned around, and I got a good look at its face. Wait, that wasn’t a snake.
+++++“Is that seriously a dragon?” I asked.
+++++“Yeah, this is Ladon, he guards the golden fleece,” said the satyr, who still hadn’t identified himself, motioning to what looked like a giant gold blanket.
+++++“Wait, THE golden fleece?” I asked, thinking that it was impossible that they actually had the golden fleece from legend.
+++++“Yeah, a couple years ago, a couple of demigods went on a quest and brought the fleece back.”
+++++“Although,” Mr. Bevan motioned behind the hill, “That’s the main attraction.” The camp was beautiful. Strawberry fields covered the grounds, a circle of odd looking cabins and a giant house overlooked the grounds, but then a thought struck me.
+++++“I can’t stay here, I need to get back to my mom. She’s probably worried sick about me.”
+++++“She asked for you to be here,” Mr. Bevan said.
+++++“Wait, how come she never told me?” I asked.
+++++“She would have told you when you were ready, now can we please stop talking about this?” As we started walking into the camp, a middle-aged guy with curly brown hair and dark glasses in a wheelchair came out of the giant house onto the pavilion.
+++++“Gather round, we have a new camper!” he yelled. “Hello Ajax, my name is Chiron, I trained your namesake back in the day,” he said, wheeling up to me.
+++++“Yes, Ajax, grandson of Zeus, cousin of Achilles, an extremely powerful warrior,” he said.
+++++“Anyhow, we were able to discern that your father was Pontus, the sea and a primordial god. Primordial gods are extremely powerful, and we have never had the demigod child of one in our camp,” he stated.
+++++“Most people here are the children of normal gods then?” I asked.
+++++“Yes, the Olympians, composing of Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Ares, Aphrodite, Hephaestus, Hermes, Hestia, and Dionysus, our camp director.”
+++++“Whoa, hold up, you have a god as your camp director?”
+++++“Yes, he was punished by Zeus to serve as our director, and, yes, here they come,” he said as campers started pouring in.
+++++Chiron turned to address the campers. “As you know, Gaia, the primordial god of the earth awoke and attempted to destroy Olympus to avenge her fallen children, the Titans. Now, another primordial god has awakened, Pontus, the sea. Due to the strong scent of the sea on him, we were able to discern that Ajax is the son of Pontus,” he declared to the camp. Mumbles erupted as soon as he finished. From what I could hear, there was a war a while ago, and Gaia attacked the camp. I gazed out at the camp. How could Gaia, a primordial god, not instantly destroy this camp? The camp looked peaceful, yet poorly defended. They must have managed somehow, so I decided not to question it.
+++++“What happens if I’m the son of Pontus?” I decided to ask.
+++++“We had a son of Poseidon that could control water and create hurricanes, but we have no idea what kinds of powers a son of Pontus could have.”
+++++“Seriously, controlling water and creating hurricanes?”
+++++“Demigods have powers based on their godly parent. Poseidon is the god of the sea, thus his children can control water,” he said.
+++++“On another note, we have Capture the Flag tonight,” Chiron said. Everyone started cheering.
+++++“Come on Ajax, we must pick out a weapon for you,” Chiron said, guiding me to a large shed. The walls were covered with racks filled with weapons. Swords of all shapes and sizes, daggers, bows, axes and even guns, all made out of some kind of bronze or iron.
+++++“Wouldn’t it be better just to make the weapons out of steel?” I asked.
+++++“Celestial Bronze causes monsters to vaporize on impact,” he simply stated. Seriously, he expected me to fight monsters. Then again apparently demigods could control water and create hurricanes.
+++++“What kinds of monsters?” I wondered.
+++++“Cyclops, hellhounds and the occasional drakon.”
+++++“You mean dragon?” I asked.
+++++“You’d wish I meant dragon! Drakons are more like snakes and 20 times more dangerous.”
+++++“Also, how do humans not realize that monsters are real?”
+++++“A substance called the mist created by the goddess Hecate shields the eyes of mortals from seeing monsters. Some weapons are also covered by the mist, for example, some can appear as a pen to humans when in actuality they’re a sword. Now, which sword do you want?” While he was talking, I had made up my mind. I took out a pair of short, straight blades.
+++++“I want these ones,” I said. They were perfectly balanced in my hand and felt more like an extension of my arm. I walked out of the shed without a second thought.
+++++“Do you know why Pontus has awakened?” I asked, hoping to get answers.
+++++“I think that the primordial gods are coming out of their slumber. This could be either very good or very bad for the world; it depends on what the primordial gods choose.” A bell started to ring as soon as he finished talking.
+++++“Dinnertime, Ajax,” he said.
+++++Capture the Flag started in the woods as soon as the sun set. All of the cabins, which were composed of the people who shared your godly parent, were split up into two teams. Since I didn’t have a cabin, I decided to take the red team with the Ares, Apollo, Nemesis, Hypnos, and Hephaestus cabins.
+++++“We made some sweet traps for wherever we’re going to hide our flag,” said Nyssa from the Hephaestus cabin, explaining the rules to me.
+++++We chose to hide our flag at the top of the rubble of an area called Zeus’s Fist that had collapsed in a battle a couple of years ago. It was the perfect location. You could see it from all around, but it was almost impossible to get to.
+++++“Are you ready, campers?” Someone who I assumed was Dionysus yelled, “START!” raising his glass of Coca Cola.
+++++I ran, unsheathing my dual blades, the sound of metal clashing echoed throughout the empty forest I ran to the edge of our territory, trying to locate the other team’s flag. A blue camper by a tree heard me and looked my direction. Spotting me, he started to run towards me. My first opponent. As soon as he came in reach, I instinctively rolled to the left, parried his blade and twisted it out of his hands. How the heck did I just do that? I asked myself quietly as I ran past.
+++++Aha. There was their flag, on a cliff above the river. I spotted two more blue people using a passage, then appearing on the cliff.
+++++“Gotcha,” I whispered softly to myself. Wait, I was the son of Pontus, the sea, I should be able to control the water. I closed my eyes, imagining that I was pulling the water out of the river. I started to feel a tug in my gut, and the water slowly rose out of the river. Did I seriously just do that? I focused on making the water close around the flag, ignoring the faces of the confused guards, and bringing it to me. Within seconds I had the flag in my grasp, but moments later, three blues cut me off. Throwing the flag onto the ground, I raised my hands, and water shot up from the ground, blasting them away. They were faster than me and probably could outrun me in seconds, so I focused on something different. I imagined that the water got colder, and colder, and colder. Encased in ice, the blues couldn’t do anything to me as I ran to my flag.
+++++“Red has won!” Dionysus announced to the campers.
+++++“That was amazing, the blue team didn’t even have a chance to attack,” said Harley, a little 9-year old from the Hephaestus cabin. I walked over to Chiron, hoping for some answers.
+++++“How did I do that?” I asked.
+++++“What, the sword fighting or the water controlling?”
+++++“Both,” I said, remembering how I beat that blue camper.
+++++“Most demigods have ADHD, which helps them be more alert in battle, and extremely sharp instincts, which allows fighting to come naturally to them.” I did have ADHD.
+++++“The water controlling can be explained by your strong connection to water, since your father is literally the ocean,” he said. It was around midnight and demigods were beginning to go to their cabins.
+++++“Where do I stay?” I asked.
+++++“You’ll stay in the Hermes cabin, where all the newcomers stay before we can identify their parent.” The cabin was CROWDED. Twenty people and 10 bunks, everybody else had to sleep on the floor. I barely had enough room, so I curled up into a ball. Oh boy, this was going to be a fun night.
* * * *
+++++I heard a bell ringing. I had just awoken from a crazy dream about greek mythology. Bells usually didn’t ring though, that definitely wasn’t normal. I opened my eyes, I was still at the Hermes Cabin. Shoot, the dream was real. I got up, strapped my swords to my belt and walked outside. A dozen kids were having breakfast. I decided to try a different table and sat down with some other people.
+++++“You can’t do that, tables are based on godly parent,” said a girl from the table I was sitting at. I blinked. Was everything here based on a godly parent?
+++++“Oh,” I responded and got up and sat back at the table I sat at yesterday, picking at my breakfast.
+++++After breakfast was done, a satyr came and delivered my schedule. It said I had swordfighting up first so I randomly asked someone where it was. They directed me to a small arena filled with sand. A boy was standing there.
+++++“I’ll be fighting against you,” he said. Without saying a word, I unsheathed my two swords. He grabbed the spear lying beside him and ran towards me. I parried his strike and hit his wrist with the hilt of my sword. He dropped his spear. I kicked his spear away and put my swords to his neck.
+++++“I went easy on you!” he yelled, angrily.
+++++“Yeah, I don’t think so,” I said to him.
+++++“You know what, this time I’ll go hard on you,” he fumed. I got ready. He ran at me again. This time I ducked. I knew he would struggle to change the direction of his spear so I grabbed his wrist and twisted the spear out of his hands. The spear fell to the ground. I again put my swords to his neck.
+++++“Wow,” said Chiron, who I didn’t notice was there.
+++++“I wonder how you’ll do in other subjects.” I checked my schedule. Archery was next. My archery coach was Chiron himself. I did what he did, step by step. Hold the bow. Draw back. Line up. Fire! The arrow impaled one of the strawberries, barely missing the satyr tending them.
+++++“Sorry!” I yelled. So much for that thought.
+++++After a humiliating archery practice, I was supposed to go to the climbing wall. That doesn’t sound so bad, I thought. I was wrong. It would have been a nice climbing wall…if LAVA didn’t pour off of it. I grit my teeth and climbed began to climb. I reached the first platform and immediately dodged a giant spiked log. I crawled until the next handhold. I waited until the giant spiked log had just passed and made it. A demigod behind me grabbed my leg.
+++++“Hey, they didn’t tell me I could do that,” I complained to him.
+++++“Well, too bad,” he said. Too bad for him. I kicked him in the face with my other leg. I raced up the wall. WHOOSH. I barely dodged a column of lava. I looked down to see if the other guy had made it. He was hanging by one hand, struggling to find another handhold. Served him right. Exasperated, I crawled to the top. I started to get up, but, suddenly, there was an earthquake. Storm clouds appeared out of thin air. A lightning bolt hit a forest next to the camp, screams echoed throughout.
+++++“What’s going on?” I panicked.
+++++“I can answer that question,” a deep voice boomed. There was a flash and a bang, suddenly shards started to appear around the camp and fell towards the ground.
+++++“Who are you?” Chiron asked.
+++++“You may know me as Aether,” the deep voice boomed.
+++++“Aether, the primordial god of air and light!” Chiron said, surprised.
+++++“What do you want?” I yelled.
+++++“I want nothing more than my rightful place in the world,” he said. A category five tornado began to tear across the forest. I had an idea. Who could fight a primordial god better than another primordial god?
+++++I ran towards Long Island Sound, struggling against the winds. I dived into the ocean.
+++++“Father, now would be a good time to appear,” I said impatiently. Immediately a tidal wave began to form. No, that wasn’t a tidal wave, a giant head began to rise. Bigger than should have been possible from the size of the sea, a gigantic humanoid made out of water walked to shore, then transformed into a regular human man. Pontus had dark brown hair and was wearing a tuxedo.
+++++“Where’d you get the tux?” I asked, motioning for him to follow me.
+++++“I’m a god,” he said. Running past the torn out tree-stumps and the remains of the cabins, I spotted the tornado. It was right by the tables, or at least where the tables used to be. The tornado suddenly stopped, the tables flew past us and shot into the woods. Another man rose out of it, thankfully not wearing a tux.
+++++“Greetings, Pontus,” Aether said.
+++++“Why are you destroying the camp?” Pontus asked.
+++++“The heroes from this camp are the only people who can possibly stop me.”
+++++“Demigods are more threatening to you than gods?” I asked.
+++++“Gods have always depended on gods for everything, that time ends now.” he said. “Now, enough talking.” Aether started to glow. Looking away, I heard an explosion. It was like the winds erupted from him. I was launched back.
+++++“He’s gone to his true form, if you look at him it could kill you,” said Pontus, struggling against the winds. He too began to glow. This time the air moistened. I ran. A bloodcurdling wail shook the earth. A gigantic cyclops walked over the remains of the camp. The giant had a mace in both hands. I unsheathed my blades. I guess this guy would be my first monster. He charged at me, easily dodging it. I chopped his hand off. He howled with pain, dropping his weapon. He began to charge at me. Dodging again, I stabbed upwards. I prepared for the body to fall, but strangely, it turned to dust. I ran past the camp borders. I had already had enough of this life. I didn’t realize how tired I was. I lay down under the shade of a tree. I closed my eyes.
* * * *
+++++I awoke. Stretching, I looked around. I was still in my room. It was all just a dream. I got up and went to the bathroom. I turned on the tap and imagined myself parting the water. The water sliced into two streams. That didn’t make sense. I walked downstairs. It was completely empty. I checked all the bedrooms in the house. All of them were empty. I looked outside. The usually busy street was absolutely deserted, no one in sight. To think about it, I could hear or smell nothing. What was going on?
+++++“Hello Ajax,” a deep booming voice said.
+++++“What are you doing here?” I asked, turning around to look at Aether.
+++++“Nothing will stop me, my reign has begun,” he said, walking forward.
+++++“Including you.” he grabbed my neck. I twisted and thrashed but his grip held fast. I was running out of air, everything turned black.
+++++I awoke for real this time, with a cold sweat. The night sky was still up and I could still hear fighting in the distance. I couldn’t abandon this life. I needed to help my father. When I reached the camp, I found it to be deserted, but I soon found the fight out in the sea. The fighting had definitely escalated. Cyclops and hellhounds surrounded the water, not really doing anything. They spotted me though, and they charged. I reached out with my hands. A wave formed and destroyed a couple cyclops. The hellhounds jumped at me, parrying their claws, I stabbed one in the chest. It also turned to dust. Within minutes I was ankle-deep in dust and all the monsters were gone. What could I do to help Pontus? I called wave after wave, but since I couldn’t see him, they ended up going all over the place. Not being able to see their fight, I ran, once again, hoping to find survivors. I saw monsters crowding around the big house so I assumed that’s where the survivors were. The monsters were attempting to enter, but it looked as though there was a barrier between them and the pavilion. One of the monsters that I saw appeared to be a scaly humanoid with two snake trunks for legs, who was clutching a spear. It noticed me immediately and charged without support from its comrades. That was a mistake. I parried the initial spear stab, then turned around and stabbed it through the chest. It evaporated into dust on my swords. The rest of the monsters were cyclops. They noticed me almost as soon as I killed the monster with the snake-trunk legs. I tried something different this time. I raised out my hands and the rain coming from the sky stopped. I gathered up all the water then blasted all of the monsters with it. All of them turned to dust.
+++++I guess the force field only worked on monsters since I walked right through it to the front door. I found it unlocked. But as soon as I stepped inside the house I heard a bang coming from the sea. I ran to the battlefield as fast as I could, trying to see what had happened. Aether was holding Pontus up by the throat. Aether had won. Evil had won. Nothing was safe.
This summer our Inklings Youth Advisory Board Writers Group chose a topic to write about. The goal of this project is for us to stretch ourselves to explore new topics and formats in our writing, share our work with others, be open to feedback, and enjoy collaborating with other writers. The theme is Shadows. Enjoy reading!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
a red hat and hand-drawn stars
by Lauren Byunn-Rieder
+++++“Why is there no one besides us out here?” asks the boy in the red hat, whose name has been long forgotten.
“Because we work in the daylight,” replies the girl with stars drawn on her arms, “and no one else will.” Together the pair walks down the empty street, the just-risen sun casting their shadows long in front of them.
“Why won’t anyone else work in the daylight?” asks the boy in the red hat, looking curiously at the mirror the girl with stars drawn on her arms holds. It is a small, triangular piece, polished to a blinding shine.
“Because they are afraid,” replies the girl with stars drawn on her arms, holding the mirror just so, her hands on edges worn smooth with use. The boy in the red hat looks down and notices that he too has a mirror in his hand, four grubby fingers marring the perfect reflection.
“What are they afraid of?” asks the boy in the red hat, idly watching as his shadow twists and writhes on the road before him.
“They are afraid of the shadows,” replies the girl with stars drawn on her arms, eyes widening as she notices the boy in the red hat’s shadow. Her hands jerk to life, using the mirror to cut a line of reflected light straight through the shadow. The top half flickers for a moment, then disappears, leaving the bottom half to wriggle its way back to the normal shape of the boy in the red hat.
“What’s wrong with the shadows?” asks the boy in the red hat, now using his mirror to chop off bits of his shadow and watch it regrow.
“They make you forget,” replies the girl with stars drawn on her arms. She anxiously watches the boy in the red hat’s shadow, not noticing the growing, squirming lump on hers until it reaches her feet and spills up her leg. She cuts sloppy, panicked lines of light across her leg, but to no avail.
The boy in the red hat looks up when the girl with stars drawn on her arms yelps in panic, just in time to see the shadow ooze up to her face.
The girl with stars drawn on her arms looks at the boy in the red hat, their eyes locking for one moment before hers fade to a distant, misty grey.
The shadow retreats downward, satisfied. As it slips lower and lower, the boy with the red hat watches as the girl with stars drawn on her arms’ eyes slowly regain their light.
“Why is there no one besides us out here?” asks the girl with stars drawn on her arms, whose name has been long forgotten.
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Chloe Choo! Chloe finished 2nd grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “The Ballet Competition” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
The Ballet Competition
by Chloe Choo
+++++Once there lived a little raccoon named Clara. Clara was never in the center of attention. She took singing classes every Tuesday. She did that because singing was her passion.
+++++One day, when Clara was at school, her teacher told Clara’s class that in six months, their school would have a ballet competition.
+++++“Oh no!” Clara the raccoon murmured. “I don’t know how to dance ballet!”
+++++When she got home that evening, she asked her mom, “Mom, can I go to ballet classes?”
+++++“Of course, dear.” said her mom.
+++++Clara thought it would go well, but what happened the next day was not what she had in mind. The next day was her first day of ballet lessons and Clara the raccoon was nervous. When it was time for her to get into the class, she was so scared because she did not know how to dance.
+++++Then, she heard a very sweet voice echoed through the room, “Clara, I know you are there, so just come in”.
+++++Clara was very scared and nervous but she went in anyway still shivering with fear. There, she saw a sweet looking raccoon standing in the middle of the room.
+++++“Hello!” said the raccoon.“ My name is Mrs. Luongo. Please go to the barre.” So, Clara went to the barre and started doing some ballet stretches.
+++++After a few weeks, Clara realized she loved going to the barre and stretching every day, but what she did not like was a step called the “pirouette.” Every time she went on point doing a pirouette, she would start wobbling and grab onto the barre to keep herself from falling. Once when Clara did the pirouette, she fell and hurt her ankle. She could not dance for a while, but she was lucky because the competition was a few months later. That would be more than enough time for Clara to heal. Soon, Clara got better at ballet and doing the pirouette.
+++++After months of practice, the day of the competition came. Clara peeked from backstage as her mom told her to “break a leg!”. Clara realized that the raccoon that went on stage before her got so nervous that she never did anything but stood there and stared. Clara also stared at the raccoon and thought, “What if I am as nervous as that raccoon?” she whispered to herself.
+++++Soon, when it was Clara’s turn, she crossed her fingers, took a deep breath, and went on stage. In the middle of her performance, Clara fell down. But she did not give up. She kept on going till finished the dance.
+++++After the competition, Clara thought she would not win, so she sadly walked home.
+++++The next day the principal of Clara’s school announced the winner of the ballet competition. Clara sat back at her chair and sadly sighed “I’m never gonna win this.” she thought.
+++++When Clara heard her name on the loudspeaker, she could not believe her (tiny) ears! And can you guess what she won? A basket of Easter eggs!
+++++After the principal made the announcement, Clara heard that everyone was talking about her.
+++++“Finally, I’m the center of attention!” she thought.
2017 Inklings Book Contest finalist: Anika Knowles
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Anika Knowles! Anika finished 6th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “Escape To America” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
Escape To America
by Anika Knowles +++++Flames leap behind me, shooting orange and red sparks across the sky. I run into the dark woods as silvery moonlight dances on the trees. A blast of cool, Mexican night air washes over my face, and light raindrops sprinkle the ground like dew. Suddenly the roar of a fire truck breaks the silence. I smell the unmistakable scent of burning wood. I sprint deeper into the shadowy forest, not stopping to look back. I scan the horizon and I can see the tops of the trees glowing in pinks, oranges, and reds in the sunrise.
+++++Why, you may ask, have I run away with almost nothing? Leaving everything and everyone I know? This, my friend, is the story.
* * * * * *
+++++Abuelita stands in the kitchen, with Mexican hot chocolate bubbling on the stove and warm churros in the oven. It is my sister Rosa’s birthday, and she is turning eight. We are very poor, and can only afford a few things. This is a celebration, so we have a few treats for Rosa. +++++“Celesta, could you go take Rosa down to the parque, por favor?” Abuelita asks.
+++++“Sí, Abuelita. We will be gone for a half an hour until dessert is ready. Adiós!” I grab Rosa’s hand and we scamper down the stairs and into the woods, where the park is.
+++++Rosa is very energetic and she loves to play outside. I drop her off at the slide and go sit on a nearby bench to watch.
+++++I think I must’ve fallen asleep because I find Rosa shaking me awake, “Celesta, vámanos! Abuelita is waiting.”
+++++“Coming, Rosa.” I suddenly smell burning, like someone is having a barbeque. But, this is no barbeque, and the smell is coming in the direction of home. “Rosa, quédate aquí. I will go find Abuelita. ¿Sí?”
+++++Rosa nods her head. “¿Abuelita está bien?”
+++++“No sé, Rosa, no sé.”
+++++As I run back home, the smell of burning gets stronger and stronger, as the evening gets darker and darker.
+++++“¿Abuelita, dónde estás?” I scream as I enter the front door.
+++++I spot her with a big bucket of water sloshing about as she tries hard to put out the vicious flames.
+++++“Abuelita, you need to get out of here!” I grab here arm and drag her outside. Abuelita turns to face me.
+++++“Vete,” she says hobbling around on her cane, “Go to America with Rosa. I cannot take care of you with everything burned. We have too little money. Vete.”
+++++“But Abuelita,” I whisper. I don’t want to leave her.
+++++“Celesta, you will be better there. You are thirteen and can take care of yourself and Rosa. It’s just a two-day walk, you can make it. Te amo, Celesta.” Abuelita leans over and kisses my cheek. “And don’t worry, I will find a place to stay.”
+++++“Adiós, Abuelita. Te amo,” I wipe the tears from my eyes.
+++++“Here,” Abuelita drops some money into my hands and hands me a folded map of Baja California, Mexico, where we live. “So you know where to go,” she whispers.
+++++I get up slowly and grab my backpack. I take one last look around: at Abuelita, at our once cozy home, at our Mexico. I never want to forget everything here. I break into a jog and head back to the park.
* * * * * *
+++++So, now you know what happened, dear friend. But let’s continue with the story. Right now, there is only one thing on my mind: find Rosa. When I get to the park, she isn’t there. I start looking all over for her. Suddenly a bush rustles. Then I hear a faint whimpering. I slowly separate the leaves and find a small puppy with white and gray fur, and next to it, I see Rosa!
+++++“Rosa, where were you?” I exclaim, throwing my arms around her.
+++++“I was at at the park, y no pude encontrarte. So, I went looking.” Her soft mocha brown eyes glimmer with tears as she strokes the puppy’s matted fur.
+++++“Oh Rosa, ven acá.” I give her another big hug.
+++++“¿Celesta, can we keep este perro, por favor?” She makes big puppy eyes identical to the ones snuggled up against her.
+++++I sigh, “We don’t have enough money to feed her, especially on our journey.”
+++++“Fine,” Rosa stamps her foot. She gives the puppy one last hug and it scampers into the night. “But what journey?” Rosa asks, her face wrinkling with confusion.
+++++“Abuelita wants us to go to America,” I say softly as I tell her the sad news.
+++++“America? ¿Por qué?” Rosa demands, her hands on her hips, and voice stern.
+++++“Because she can’t afford to keep us with the house burned down. She thinks we’ll do better there,” I explain. “Vámonos.” I grab her hand and pull her along. We walk for about an hour until I see a grove of trees. Rosa and I go in and we huddle under a tree to sleep.
+++++The next morning, we walk for a long time, occasionally drinking water from the canteen I brought in my backpack.
+++++Along the way, we see a market. Mexico has a lot of markets and they sell very good food. I want to stop to get a snack for our trip. My mouth waters at the smell of all the delicious food and my stomach grumbles. I grab a few pesos from my pocket and hand them to a fruit peddler. In exchange, she gives me three pears.
+++++“Gracias,” I shoot her a grateful smile and she smiles back.
+++++Rosa and I each devour a pear and I carefully put the other one into my backpack. For the rest of the day, we walk until our feet hurt. As it turns to dusk, the beautiful colors of the sunset creep like vines up into the sky.
+++++“Rosa, let’s find a place where we can stay for the night.”
+++++I am so tired, I feel like my feet are going to fall off, and my eyelids are going to be glued shut.
+++++“¡Mira allí! A hotel!” She points a couple of yards away, where a small building stands. Sure enough, the sign above it says HOTEL.
+++++We walk in and a hotel worker greets us. His name tag says Pablo.
+++++“¡Hola! What do you want?” He looks at us skeptically from behind the counter.
+++++“¡Hola!” I say, “Our house just burned down and our Abuelita says we have to go to America. We need a safe place to stay tonight.”
+++++“My. That will be a hard journey for you. But we can’t afford to let people sleep in our rooms for free,” Pablo sighed.
+++++I survey the scene: dirty dishes piled in the sink, laundry scattered everywhere, and trash overflowing the garbage can. “Is it OK if my sister and I stay here for the night? We don’t have enough money to pay for the room, but we could clean up this place tomorrow.”
+++++“Um… I guess we do have quite a mess aquí,” Pablo looks around and nods. “That would work. Let me show you your room, and you can clean in the morning. “¿Sí?” He leads the way down a hall and creaks open room 24.
+++++Inside, there are two small beds and a desk. I go over to the bed closest to the window and plop my backpack down. I sink into the heavenly softness. Rosa goes over to the other bed, and throws herself onto it. I hear her sigh with happiness.
+++++“El cuarto de baño is down the hall.” He slowly closes the door and retreats down the hall.
+++++I grab the last pear from my bag and cut it in half with a plastic knife from the desk. My mouth waters at the sweet smell of it. I hand the other half to Rosa, who shoves the whole thing in her mouth. Me, I take bite by bite and put the seeds into the front of my pack.
+++++Rosa and I climb into bed and I turn off the lamp. Seconds later, I hear Rosa’s soft, steady breathing. But my mind is filled with worry about how we will get across the border the next day. I turn and look out the window and take a deep breath of the crisp, Mexican air. I see the beautiful majestic moon shaped like a sideways rainbow. Even though Abuelita and Rosa and I are so far apart, we will always be looking at the same moon. I like that thought, and my breathing slows and I fall fast asleep.
+++++Early the next morning, I shake Rosa awake. “Time to clean.”
+++++“Coming.” Rosa groggily sits up and rubs her eyes.
+++++For the next few hours, we clean the hotel. First, we take turns washing the dishes with soapy bubbles up to our elbows, then pick up the laundry from the floor, throw it into the machine, and later hang it on the drying line. We haul the garbage down to the street to be picked up. We sweep, dust, and scrub. Finally, after three hours, we are done and my whole body aches.
+++++I go outside and wait for Rosa to come. Finally, she comes with our backpacks, and we thank Pablo and say goodbye. He tells us about a short-cut through the countryside to the border and hands us a roll of freshly-baked bread. We smile in gratitude.
+++++We walk along a stream and fill the canteen with water. As we walk, we slowly nibble on the bread. After what seems like hours, we finally reach the border to America.
+++++There is a security guard and we hide under a bush. We slowly inch from bush to bush until we spot him sleeping against a tree. I grab Rosa’s hand and I pull her out of the bush and we sprint over the border.
+++++All of a sudden, someone yells, “Stop right there!” I whirl around and am face to face with a huge man with a curly mustache. I look up and see he has a badge on his uniform that reads SECURITY GUARD. Uh oh! I think we are in trouble.
+++++“Where do you think you are going?” the man spits into my face. I can feel Rosa squeezing behind my legs and her whole body shaking.
+++++“Umm…” I stammer.
+++++“Well, if you’re not going to tell me, then I’m going to take you to detention,” the guard growls.
+++++Suddenly, a loud voice screams, “HELP!”
+++++The security guard who caught us rushes to investigate and momentarily forgets about us.
+++++“Run!” I hiss to Rosa. We both scramble up a nearby tree before anybody spots us.
+++++“Where are those two girls?” We recognize the scratchy voice of the guard and exchange worried glances.
+++++The guard starts looking for us but doesn’t have any idea that we are hiding in the tree right above his head. I stifle a nervous laugh.
+++++After a useless search, the guard gives up trying to catch us and walks away. We wait until no one else is around, then Rosa and I quietly climb down the tree and dash away from the border as fast as we can.
+++++We run for about a mile, until we are sure that we are safe.
+++++“Rosa! We made it to America!” I shout, twirling around.
+++++“¡Lo sé!” she follows me, jumping about and singing, her hair flowing in the wind.
+++++I sit down on a log, pull out a piece of tattered paper, and an almost dried up pen, and write:
2017 Inklings Book Contest finalist: Zachary Walcott
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Zachary Walcott! Zachary finished 3rd grade this past school year. The story he submitted is called “Timothy, The Boy of Courage” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
Timothy, The Boy of Courage
by Zachary Walcott
The Young High Schooler
+++++Once there was a boy called Timothy Slum. He was the smartest kid in the school, and that’s saying something, because his school went to 8th grade and he was only in 5th grade. +++++Timothy had received news from his parents that he totally was NOT expecting. His mom had said proudly that night, “My young son Timothy Slum is a young high schooler!”
Timothy had dropped his fork full of chicken and stormed out of the room, toward his own room.
“THAT’S NOT FAIR!” Timothy shouted back. +++++His parents had been expecting a hug. Well, that’s the opposite of what his parents had wanted! So Timothy had to go to high school as an 11-year-old, and that was that.
The First Day of School
+++++Timothy felt he wouldn’t have the nerves to do this again. +++++Well, Timothy’s parents were 99.9% percent sure he was going to like it. Timothy, on the other hand, was about 0.1% sure he was going to like it. “Well,” he thought, “At least that equals 100%.” +++++That morning, Timothy woke up at 2:00, thinking about his first day. All the high schoolers were experts at insulting. I mean, that was their specialty. +++++Tim tried to go to sleep again. His body was tried, but his brain alert. So, he decided it would be better just to play on his computer, do some nerdy, math-game thing. He got on the computer and searched some stuff about math equations and authors whom he already knew. +++++“This is boring, but it’s better than sitting in that high school dump,” thought Timothy. “I have a very exhausting day ahead of me!” And so he did. +++++“This is the worst . . . I have such bad parents,” thought Timothy. “This is human torture!” Then he became more hopeful. “Maybe the day won’t be so bad.” Then he changed his mind. “This is going to be the worst day!” he convinced himself. Tim was not looking forward to high school, “but why was he encouraging himself to have bad thoughts?” he wondered. +++++When 6:45 came, Timothy got dressed, brushed his teeth, and organized his backpack. +++++By the time that Timothy and his mom had arrived at the school and had entered the principal’s office, Timothy had already received several dirty looks and even a few whispered insults. +++++“This is like one hundred Avery’s in the same place,” Timothy thought, referring to the bully from his old school. +++++Timothy sighed. This situation was as bad as his mom lecturing him on how smart he was. And “boy was that saying something!” he thought.
The Worst Day Ever
+++++Timothy was practically killing himself, trying not to lose his temper as the older kids laughed and made mean faces at him. He was a sapling and they were giants. +++++For once, Timothy’s classes were actually at his own high level, which was good. Probably, it was the only good thing about being in high school. But there were also these five-minute breaks between classes, and that was definitely something bad. The hallways were crowded with high schoolers jostling for space and looking at Tim in funny ways that just made him feel awkward and stupid. +++++When Timothy got home that day, he was exhausted. Timothy regretted being born–perhaps that’s the simple way of putting it. It had been the worst day ever. +++++His mom and dad were proud, but Timothy was disappointed. He stayed up late thinking about how bad this week could be. Would he continue to be the sapling or would he rise and conquer these beastly, insulting giants? As he pondered he felt his eyes getting heavy and he fell asleep.
A New Friend
+++++Timothy went to school the next day, still exhausted from his first day. The front of the school had a place with a sparkling pathway leading through a grassy area full of students.
This time, when he walked through the gates of the school, he saw a boy who looked about the same age and the same height as he. Timothy wondered who he was. +++++As soon as the new boy caught sight of Timothy, he scurried away, as if he were a bunny and Timothy were a fox. +++++It turned out they had almost all the same classes. That’s how they began to talk. +++++One day in English class, Timothy popped the awkward silence thinking he might have found a friend. “Hi!” said Timothy. +++++“Hi. My name is Larry,” said the new boy. +++++“My name is Timothy, but you can call me Tim.” +++++Soon, each day got better and Timothy actually started to have some fun at school. On one of those days, Timothy even thanked his mom and dad for enrolling him in high school. Such gratitude shocked them. +++++When his parents asked him if he had made any friends at school, Timothy replied, “Yes!” He was so full with glee. Timothy now had a friend who helped him ignore the bullies. The bullies pretty much left Timothy alone, once they saw that he was no longer impressed or intimidated by them. +++++Once though, some bullies broke into Timothy’s locker and stole a large book. Away they ran down the hall. They weaved in and out of school traffic like a high speed chase. The other students were angry drivers. +++++“We just stole your life! This book is your life! Loser!” they shouted back, at Timothy. +++++The book was not Timothy’s life. Not by a long shot. Actually, the book was just some simple-minded, bedtime reading. +++++But, before the bullies could reach the end of the hallway, Mr. Stretchmore, a gym teacher, lassoed them up in his arms. He made them return the book to Timothy and to apologize to him in front of everyone in the hall. Timothy felt tired, so tired of bullying. He thanked Mr. Stretchmore, though, and returned the book to his locker.
+++++It was fun having Larry around as a friend. Timothy learned that Larry had never had any friends either. This fact hit Timothy like a bullet. He was reminded of how the kids at his old school did everything they could not to avoid becominge his friend. Such memories still hurt Timothy. +++++Though sooner than later, Timothy was grinning. He had become the King of High School. It was awesome. People had started calling him “Bbro” and “Ddude.” It was nice, like he was some sort of celebrity. +++++His second year was even better, which seemed unthinkable that first year. Now, there were actually some girls who liked Timothy. Not that he liked any of them. +++++Timothy’s year was going as well as one would ever hope, even better. He was was treated awesomely. Larry was being treated well, too. They were the Twin Kings, if such a thing existed. IT WAS A W E S O M E! +++++During the next two years of high school, every day was exciting and Timothy was happy. When time came for college, Timothy met new friends. He still missed Larry, his first real friend.
Zachary attends Town School for Boys in San Francisco. He loves sports. When bored, Zachary loves to read, including his first published book, A Cop Named Fuzz Copper. Although Zachary considers it a bad habit, he likes to play on the computer. Of course, he enjoys playing with his friends too!
An aside: Zachary himself insists that he is not as smart as Timothy.
I thank my parents for understanding when I needed to write and I thank my friend Blake for being quiet while I was writing next to him. I thank my teacher Mr. Corey Olds, who not only helped me, but also edited and published my first book. I thank Mr. Olds the most for introducing me to the writing world!
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Kyra Yu! Kyra finished 6th grade this past school year. The poem she submitted is called “Skiing” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
by Kyra Yu
Pack up your clothes,
Pack up your gear
It’s time to go skiing
It’s the best time of year
We’re finally in the car
All bundled up and cuddling fuzzies
We’re ready for a long drive
We pass the time with games and book
We make skits with our fuzzies
We munch on some snacks
And maybe take a nap or two
Look out the window!
Looks like we have arrived
It’s time to hit the slopes
Put on our jackets
Get out the skis
We’re ready to go,
Can’t you see
The lift tickets
We wait as our parents obtain them
The slips of freedom
We are finally free
The tickets are here
We’re off to the slopes
Boots, skis, and helmets
All in check
The air is crisp,
Snow falls from the sky
It drapes the trees
In sparkling white
Icicles dangle off branches
Dazzling in the sunlight
I call them
Inklings Book Finalist: Alexa Zhang
It’s all so pretty
Up in the mountains
Soaring down the mountain
Free as a bird
Nothing can stop me now
I can’t slow down
The end is near
Right into a pole
At least I didn’t fall off that cliff
Get back up
Nothing can stop me now
Omin and I share a chair
Our butts are frozen,
There’s snow in our hair
From up above,
Everything looks so small
From up above,
We feel so tall
We are the rulers of this
Tips up, Tips down
Two silly girls
The chair is our throne,
The slopes, our world
It’s almost 4
It’s time to go
Our legs are sore
Our fingers froze,
But we can’t wait
To come back for more
We hope you enjoyed Kyra’s poem as much as we did, leave us a comment about it!
2017 Inklings Book Contest finalist: Phoebe Clifton
Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2017 finalist, Phoebe Clifton! Phoebe finished 7th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “Shadows In The Moondlight” We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did!
Leave a comment below on what you thought!
Shadows In The Moonlight
by Phoebe Clifton
+++++When baby Kamaria was born, she looked just like the moon. She had pale skin, nearly white hair, and dazzlingly blue eyes. Her parents, Ayo and Jelani, were surprised to see her because she looked so different from them. Soon after Kamaria was born, Ayo and Jelani took her to the town healer to see what was going on.
+++++“Well,” the healer said, “she was born two weeks ago, which was the full moon, the blue moon to be exact, and it has been known to do…special things.”
+++++“What special things?” asked Ayo angrily, “Give our baby white skin instead of brown? Blond hair instead of black?”
+++++“Yes, but other things too. She will have to go outside every full moon to stay alive, and she will have the ability to sacrifice herself once in her life in a time of great need,” the healer shook her head, “I’m so sorry that this is your burden.”
+++++“Don’t give us pity about our daughter. Do you think we care what she looks like? Do you think it will bother us to have to get her in the moonlight on the full moon?” Jelani’s voice was rising and the healer was beginning to look unsettled so Ayo put her hand on her husband’s shoulder and turned to leave.
+++++“Wait, there have been many babies born on the full moon, but not all of them are like Kamaria,” said Ayo, “Why is that?” +++++“No one is really sure, but I believe that it’s the spirits choosing some individuals they think will do best with their power.” The healer looked up to the spirits, and the three adults joined together in a silent prayer.
+++++Kamaria grew to be a strong and well loved woman. She had always stayed close to home and Ayo and Jelani looked after her unique needs. One full moon when Kamaria was 23, she was outside, running and enjoying her powers to make inanimate objects come to life, a power she had discovered only a few years ago. Her powers only worked while the full moon was up and it’s effects died away soon after. Even though Kamaria had to stay outside all night on the full moons, she always felt stronger and more excited at night. Sometimes a child would come up to her in the dark and they would play oh-so-quietly with the rocks and pebbles she made come alive. However, tonight she had a visitor that was not a child, but a Persian man she had seen around the village a few times.
+++++“I couldn’t help but notice you outside at night a lot, so I thought I’d come to see you.”
Kamaria spun around, surprised to have a visitor so late at night.
+++++“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, but you are so kind and helpful to the villagers, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about you, so I wanted to come out and meet you myself.” The man was handsome. He had dark brown hair, deep brown eyes that looked as though they had so many secrets behind them, and his skin looked like he’d spent many hours in the sun as it was rough and dark. Kamaria noticed that he spoke with a thick Persian accent. “This must be the man who has been teaching Persian to the children,” she thought.
+++++He picked up her hand and said, “I’m Javed by the way, Javed Attar.”
+++++“Kamaria Baharia, pleasure to meet you.”
+++++The two of them spent the night together, chatting and laughing. Over the next few months Javed and Kamaria became good friends. One cold December evening, a full moon, Kamaria was outside holding a rock that she had made come to life. She petted it’s head and sang to it. Longing to have a child of her own one day, she whispered a prayer.
+++++Oh lord, +++++In time, +++++Bring me a baby, +++++A child of the moon, +++++Bless me lord, +++++Bless me.
+++++“That was beautiful.”
+++++Kamaria jumped, surprised. She looked up and saw a bright, white-toothed grin and couldn’t help but smile herself. “Hello, Javed. I not seen you in many months.”
+++++“You’ve been working on your Persian.” Javed chuckled.
+++++Kamaria shot him a look. “I no good…but I try for you. So you no have to speak mine language. Where you been?”
+++++Javed rolled his eyes. “I really appreciate you learning Persian, but this conversation will be quicker in African. I got a job in a village far west from here.”
+++++“How was it? Do they treat you well?” Kamaria realized she cared a lot. More than she should as a friend.
+++++“They’re nice but…not like here. I missed you.” Javed gave Kamaria a smile that made her blush.
+++++“Stop it,” she told herself, “you have no feelings for him that go farther than friendship.” As much as she wanted to believe that, she knew it wasn’t true. Kamaria sighed.
+++++“Are you ok?” Javed looked worried.
+++++“What? I- oh yeah everything’s fine.” Kamaria got nervous how he looked at her. She was furious at herself. The months they had spent apart changed her, she now couldn’t stop thinking about him.
+++++“Come on Kamaria, I know you better than that.” Javed came closer. Soon their faces were only inches apart. Kamaria took a shaky breath.
+++++“This cannot be happening,” Kamaria told herself. Javed reached out and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. But instead of taking his hand back, he moved it to her neck. He drew her so close their noses were almost touching.
+++++“Did I ever tell you that your eyes are beautiful?” Javed whispered to Kamaria. Before she could respond, Javed pressed his lips against hers. They were soft and warm and Kamaria felt safe in his arms. For several seconds she enjoyed this feeling, not wanting it to end, but Javed pulled away. “I…I’m sorry I don’t know what I was doing.” He stumbled and sputtered.
+++++Kamaria didn’t say a word, she just sat next to him and put her hand over his. They spent the rest of the night talking and looking at the stars. As the sun began to rise Kamaria couldn’t hold back the question nagging at her all night.
+++++“Are you…” she sighed, “going back to the other village to teach?”
+++++“Kamaria, I want to stay here, with you, but I made a promise that I would stay and teach for a few years.” Javed squeezed her hand.
+++++That next years were awful for Kamaria and Javed. They tried to visit each other as much as possible but it wasn’t easy. One day when Javed was visiting he found Kamaria sitting on a swing in her yard.
+++++“Hello Kamaria.” Javed was so excited to see her because they hadn’t seen each other in a many months.
+++++Kamaria’s head swung around and a smile broke over her face. “Javed!” She ran into his arms and he scooped her up. She planted a kiss on his forehead and he set her down. He didn’t say a thing but picked up her hand.
+++++“I’ve loved you since the day we met. Your smile and laugh brighten up my heart on the darkest of days. I love you for who you are and what you do. Kamaria, will you marry me?” Javed put on his sweetest smile.
+++++Kamaria couldn’t hold in the tears. “Oh Javed, I don’t know what to say except…yes! I never thought this day would come. I love you Javed, so very much.”
+++++Javed pulled her into a hug and whispered, “I’m sorry, I have no ring.”
+++++Kamaria smiled, “How about a kiss instead?”
+++++When they announced their engagement, no one was surprised. A few years after Javed and Kamaria’s marriage, they had a baby girl who looked so much like her father, Javed joked that they should name her Javed II. She had his dark hair, a big smile, and an innocent face. However, she had Kamaria’s eyes, bright, blue and shining.
+++++“What should we name her?” Kamaria asked, “That has nothing to do with your name,” she added when she saw Javed open his mouth with a smirk.
+++++“Well,” Javed said thoughtfully, “you are basically the moon itself, just more beautiful, so maybe we should name her Mahdokht.”
+++++“Mahdokht?” Kamaria questioned, “What does it mean?”
+++++Javed smiled, “Daughter of the moon.”
+++++Every year, Mahdokht grew more clever, bright, and beautiful, and just like her mother, she was well loved by everyone in the village. A few weeks after Mahdokht’s ninth birthday, Kamaria was looking for her because she promised that Mahdokht could stay up all night with her for one full moon when she was older to see her mother’s powers. “Mahdokht? Where are you?” Kamaria was running around their small house looking for her daughter. “Sweetheart, this is special, the full moon is tomorrow and I want to prepare you.”
+++++“Mamma! Mamma!” Kamaria heard her daughter crying from outside and she rushed out to see Mahdokht lying on the ground below a tree with her leg twisted at an odd angle and blood all around her.
+++++“Mahdokht! What happened?” Kamaria was already on the ground, ready to help her child in any way she could.
+++++It took several minutes to get Mahdokht as comfortable as possible on the couch inside before she could stop crying enough to explain what happened.
+++++“I was trying to get higher in the tree than I got yesterday and…and,” Mahdokht cried for a while longer before she could continue, “I heard a cracking noise and the branch I was on fell and I hit the ground.”
+++++“Oh honey, I’m so sorry. I’m going to bandage you up as best I can but the healer is gone for a few days so we’ll have to wait before we visit her,” Kamaria looked at her daughter’s leg to examine the damage. It was definitely broken, and there was a long, deep gash running almost the entire length of Mahdokht’s leg.
+++++“I want Papa,” Mahdokht cried.
+++++“I know sweetheart, but you know he’s on a trip and he won’t be back for two days,” Kamaria patted Mahdokht’s head.
+++++The next morning things had gone from bad to worse. Even though Kamaria had bandaged Mahdokht’s leg, the Attar house was in the poor area of town, so there was a lot more dirt and germs in the house and Mahdokht’s leg was beginning to get infected.
+++++That evening Mahdokht passed out from the worsening infection and Kamaria was frantic. Seeing her young child sweating and barely breathing, Kamaria was in tears. She knew full well what would happen to Mahdokht if the infection spread anymore. Kamaria also knew what would happen to her if she didn’t go outside tonight. She was preparing to watch her own child die and die beside her when she remembered what her mother had told her long ago.
+++++“You have the gift to sacrifice yourself for someone you love. All you have to do is put one hand on your heart and one on their’s and say out loud, “I give you the gift of life.”
+++++Kamaria knew immediately what she wanted to do. She took a last look at her suffering daughter and felt glad she would be fine in a few moments, but so very sad not to be there to see her better. Kamaria put one hand on her heart, the other on Mahdokht’s and whispered, “I give you the gift of life.”
+++++Mahdokht awoke, feeling perfectly fine. She looked down at her leg and saw that it was completely healed, no cut or anything. Mahdokht rose from the couch feeling happy but confused. “Why is my leg better, and where is mamma?” Looking down at her leg some more, Mahdokht realized there was a large pile of powder on the floor near her feet. A closer look told her it wasn’t powder at all, but moon dust. Mahdokht thought, “Mama told me once that she could sacrifice herself once for someone else, so she must have used it on…me.”
+++++“No…no no no no no! Mamma!” Mahdokht slumped over and cried for minutes which turned to hours.
+++++Javed opened the door with a smile on his face, happy to see his family. However, it quickly faded when he saw his daughter crying. He rushed over and put his arm around her. As soon as he got closer, he saw the moon dust and knew what was wrong. Javed sunk down next to Mahdokht and they cried together far into the night.
+++++Three years to the day of her mother’s death, Mahdokht walked into her father’s bedroom, and to her surprise, he wasn’t bent over his desk working on the next lesson for his students, he was packing.
+++++“Papa, what are you doing?” Mahdokht asked curiously. Her father hadn’t gone on a trip since her mother died.
+++++Javed turned and his face was solemn, “We are leaving this house and we aren’t coming back for a while. Pack everything you need, we leave before sunrise tomorrow.”
+++++“But-,” Mahdokht didn’t get to finish her question before Javed gently picked her up and put her in the hallway and closed the door. With no better option Mahdokht turned and walked quickly to her room and packed only necessities and her most precious belongings, including a picture of her and her mother, a spyglass, and a pearl bracelet Kamaria had given her on her ninth birthday. Aside from it being her favorite present ever, it was the last thing Kamaria ever gave to her.
+++++Mahdokht sighed and a tear rolled down her cheek, “I miss you Mama, I wish you were here.”
+++++“Mahdokht?” Javed peeked his head into the room, “I’m really sorry I pushed you away, you have a right to know what’s going on.” Javed took Mahdokht in his arms and wiped her tears away, “We are going on a… journey… to find some sort of closure for your mama’s death because I have noticed how much you’ve changed in the past three years and how hard it has been for both of us.
+++++Sunrise the next morning brought a short breakfast and quick baths before Javed and Mahdokht were standing outside the house. “Well, off we go,” Javed said, “I have our money and food.” Both of them took deep breaths and started off to wherever their feet might lead them.
+++++As Javed and Mahdokht walked, the temperature dropped a noticeable amount. By the time the sun began to set, the temperature had dropped even more and Javed and Mahdokht were putting on jackets.
+++++“Papa, are we going north? It’s getting awfully cold and if we get far enough that it begins to snow, it’s possible we’ll get stuck in a blizzard.”
+++++“Yes Mahdokht, we are going north and we’ll be in the snow in about two days. I hope there won’t be a blizzard but if there is we’ll just find shelter and we’ll be fine.” Javed sounded tired from the uphill trek and he knew it must be even harder for Mahdokht on her short legs. “If you need to rest we can stop and sleep.”
+++++Mahdokht yawned and stretched her arms, “I am tired but if… if…”
+++++Javed turned when he didn’t hear his daughter’s voice anymore and he saw her lying on the ground, already half asleep. Smiling slightly, he covered Mahdokht with a blanket and laid down next to her, falling into a deep sleep.
+++++The next morning they started on their way again. It was a mildly uneventful day except for a run-in with a bear, but Javed scared it away by banging together the pot and pan they had brought. The next few months passed by in a similar manner. One day, Javed and Mahdokht were feeling particularly discouraged. They were considering turning back even though they hadn’t found anything close to closure. However, the next day, the blizzard hit. The disaster started that morning when Mahdokht woke up to see snow being thrown all around her.
+++++“Papa! We have a problem! The wind is picking up!” Mahdokht called, shaking Javed awake.
+++++“What? Go back to sleep Mahdokht. Please, I-” Javed sat up to the wind picking up even more speed. “We have the start of a blizzard.”
+++++Now fully awake, Javed began directing Mahdokht on what needed to happen. “We need to pack up everything right now and get a move on. We must find a cave where we can find shelter and then we can figure out what to do from there.” Within an a few hours, the blizzard had fully formed and there was no cave in sight.
+++++“Mahdokht, I’m so sorry. All that’s happened out here has been bad. Everything from blisters to blizzards and we haven’t had anything close to closure.” Javed was nearly in tears and he sunk to the ground. “All I’ve done since your mother’s death was try to protect you. She made me promise if she died, I would look after you and put you before everything else. Now I’ve just taken you away from all you’ve ever known and maybe we’ll never make it back.”
+++++“Papa, no,” Mahdokht said, “We will make it back but not until we find closure. But first we need to find a cave and wait out the blizzard. We won’t last out here for much longer, so we need to keep moving.”
+++++“Since when has my little girl gotten so wise?” Javed said smiling up at his daughter.
+++++“Oh, just since I was taught well by a wise man named Javed Attar.” Mahdokht smiled back at helped lift him off the ground.
+++++The wind was only getting worse and even though it wasn’t currently snowing, the snow already on the ground was blowing around them making it nearly impossible to see.
+++++Unwilling to give up, Mahdokht and Javed trudged on. The moon rose, a full moon, and even though the travelers couldn’t see it, it was beaming down at them, giving them a blessing.
+++++It was nearly ten o’clock and the darkness was making it even harder to see amongst the snow. Mahdokht and Javed couldn’t even see each other, even when Mahdokht held tightly onto Javed’s backpack so she wouldn’t fall behind. Still with no luck in finding a cave, both Javed and Mahdokht were getting tired and cold and both were thinking they might not make it when suddenly the wind just stopped. It didn’t just quiet down a little, it fully stopped and the snow fell back to the ground.
+++++“What is going on?” Mahdokht asked, “I know weird things happen but this is really weird.”
+++++“You’re right, I’ve never seen that happen before, but what a blessing,” Javed breathed a sigh of relief.
+++++“Mama,” Mahdokht had her head turned up to the sky, looking at the full moon.
+++++“What?” Javed asked, looking where Mahdokht was pointing at the moon.
+++++“It’s a full moon, and Mama was watching us struggle to find her and she stopped the blizzard and let us see her again.”
+++++Tears of happiness and sadness mixed on both of their faces as they felt the moonlight washing over their bodies.
+++++Since there were no trees to make shadows in the clearing Mahdokht and Javed were standing in, the moonlight was reflected off the snow all around them, making it sparkle. It looked like there were lights shining on the blanket of snow that covered the ground.
+++++After what might have been minutes or hours, Mahdokht and Javed opened their eyes and turned to see their shadows in the moonlight.