Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2020 finalist, Gabriel Z.! Gabriel finished 4th grade this past school year. The story he submitted is called “An Icy Adventure.” Our judges enjoyed the way Gabriel used conflict to build suspense and tension.
An Icy Adventure
by Gabriel Z.
“Stay inside, not outside, Icy,” Snowy, Icy the snow leopard’s mom, said.
“Okay, whatever,” said Icy. But Icy went outside to play. He heard a rumbling. It was an avalanche! Icy ran trying to get away, but the avalanche was too fast, and he was quickly overrun by snow, rocks, and trees.
Chapter 1: Kidnapped
One year later…
Icy was woken up by his pet human. “It’s time for breakfast hunting.”
“Okay!” said Icy, even though he knew his pet human couldn’t understand him. He became Icy’s pet after the avalanche, one year ago, when his pet human dug him out of the snow. They have been together ever since.
As he was running out from underneath his tree on the cold ground of the Himalayas, he spotted it. His prey. A fat mountain goat was just sitting there right next to the base of the cliff, surrounded by bushes. Easy prey, thought Icy. He began stalking forward, making sure he was downwind, so the mountain goat couldn’t smell him. He pounced. With a swift swipe to the neck, the goat was killed. Breakfast, thought Icy. He began to feast.
After Icy finished, he started walking back to his tree. First, he had to stop at the stream to get some water. He had just started drinking when he smelled something. Something strange. Next thing he knew, something was on top of him. Something that smelled and looked strongly of human. He could not move his paws to fight it off, for fear that the weight would knock him over. The humans forced him into something cold, metallic, and grey, with bars. He could see his box being lifted onto the back of a truck. Then, everything went dark. The only thing he could hear was the people shouting to each other. All of the shouting stopped when the truck’s engine turned on. They were leaving.
Icy could hear the humans talking.
“He’s gonna make a great rug someday.”
Chapter 2: The Factory
Icy woke up from a dreamless sleep to find that he was no longer in the back of the truck. The thing covering his box was gone. I must get out of here. He started devising a plan.
The first thing that Icy noticed was the contents of his box: a litter box, a watering bowl, and a food container, which later he found out were connected to the floor.
As Icy looked outside his box he saw these big metal things. He didn’t know what they were. He also saw multiple exits. Then he thought of how to escape. After some time, he devised a plan. The plan was to rock his box around, get one of the humans to open the door, push his way out, and go out one of the exits. He started to rock his box. It was loud and it felt like forever before the human came over.
“I’m trying to sleep here!” the human said.
Then the human pulled out a roll of duct tape, and taped the box to the floor. He went back to bed. Icy was so frustrated that the human didn’t open the door, that he started hitting everything. He used his claws to swipe at his food and fling it everywhere. He hit his water bowl and the water sloshed. Then he started clawing his litter box. He found out that it would easily rip with a good slice. So he started ripping, and tearing it apart, throwing litter everywhere. He tried to rock the box but found that it wouldn’t move. Then he saw the black pieces of tape that the human had placed and sliced them with his claws.
The human came back out of his room and threw a tantrum.
“I’m trying to sleep and you’ve tossed litter everywhere! And now I have to clean it up!”
He opened the door to Icy’s box to clean the litter. Icy saw his chance, he dashed towards the opening and pushed his way out. The human tried to push back but Icy got a claw to his knee. Icy started running towards the nearest exit. Something big and red caught his eye.
He stopped. It looked like something he could push. Then he thought, maybe this is something that could slow the human down, the human was gaining on him. So he pushed it with his paw. All of a sudden a loud noise hit his ears and he was stunned. Then he saw the big metal things move.
Next thing he knew, he was being pulled back into his box.
Chapter 3: The Escape
Stuck in his box, Icy was thinking about what would get him out now that he knew rattling would work. He noticed something he had not noticed before, the things that make the doors swing. He remembered a time when he saw his pet human tinkering with doors. Screws! He thought maybe he could unscrew them with his claws, gently lift the door and put it on the floor with his mouth, and then creep out one of the exits. He also noticed large windows near the top of the building. So he waited until nightfall and started unscrewing the door with his claw. Then he gently put it on the floor. Quietly, he ran for the nearest exit. But there was a slight problem. He didn’t know how to get through the door! And he couldn’t unhinge it. It was too high. He rested his head on the door in disappointment. The door moved! But not enough for him to get out.
Then he saw a bar on the middle of the door. He had seen these before. If you push them, the door opens. So he jumped and pushed the bar. But he wasn’t strong enough so it pushed him backwards. Then, he tried a running start. The door opened! He slid down the door, pushing it long enough for him to slip out. It took several tries but he got out.
Chapter 4: Returning Home
Snow was falling all around him. It was cold, but Icy didn’t feel it. He wanted to play, but he was scared that the humans would find him. He needed to find the way home. But he didn’t know which way it was to the river where he was captured. The only thing he saw was snow. The road that they came on must have been covered with it. He started digging until he found something. A large dirt path. It looked like it could be a road. Then he found out that the snow level is lower on the road. So he started following it. Eventually he came to a place where the road met with another road. He didn’t know which way was the right way to go. He chose to go left. As he traveled down the road he noticed that he was very hungry. But all he saw was a rabbit. That will only keep me going until nightfall, but I’ll take it. And so he stalked the rabbit, and made sure that he was downwind of it. Then he pounced. He crushed it under his paws. Hungrily, he started to eat.
Then he started walking down the road that he thought would lead him home. After about ten more minutes, he came to a dead end. Beyond was snow. A lot of snow. It was about a foot high and stretched over a lot of area. But at the far edge of the snow, he saw a forest. He thought it looked familiar, so he started walking towards it, until he came to the forest. There was only a little bit of snow there. He thought he might be able to get his dinner and some shelter for the night. Luckily, he saw an elk. Carefully, making sure he was downwind and quiet, he caught it. He started to eat. Then he decided to keep walking and find somewhere where he could sleep, like a dent between tree roots that he could cover up with leaves or underneath a bush. Or even a cave. But he didn’t find any of these things. The closest thing he came to finding a cave was a small crevice between two boulders that was far too small. When he thought he found the perfect spot between two tree roots, it was way too big. There were no bushes. When he found one, it was dead. He noticed he was lost. Icy realized that none of the forest smells were ones he was familiar with. I should probably get out of this forest.
He picked a direction that he thought was out of the forest, back to where he came in. So he kept following it. He kept walking and walking, and then he saw it. The perfect place for him to sleep. He knew it was big enough. On one side there was a bush. The only green bush that was in this forest. On the other side there was a large tree root. Behind him was a large tree trunk. And overhead there was perfect room for laying sticks and leaves. He started laying out the sticks and gathering leaves. Just after nightfall, he got in his den and went to sleep.
Chapter 5: Home at Last
Icy woke up with a fresh burst of energy. He started running in the direction that he had picked. He knew this, because of a tree that he had marked with the direction that he needed to go. He could see it, light, at the edge of the forest. He burst out of the trees. He was so happy that he had finally gotten out. He found himself right where he had started, on the crossroads. So he decided to go right this time. Hopefully, that would bring him home. He started to walk and came to another crossroads. Icy chose to stay on the same path. At last he saw a house, no two, three, four, five houses. As he got closer, he saw even more houses. There was a whole town! He thought he was finally back. But nothing here seemed familiar. All of the houses looked different. Where his house should have been there was a large brick building, nothing like his. Then he saw a dirt path, which he thought was like the one he had seen by the stream before he was captured. He thought if he followed it, he would get back to the stream. From there he could get back to his tree. He started taking the path. He walked for a long time. He was tired from walking all day, so he was going at a slow pace. By nightfall, he reached a place where there were lots of cars. My pet has a car, he thought. There were three paths leading from the area. He decided he would explore them in the morning. There were lots of bushes surrounding the area. He saw an opening between two of them, and decided that would be a perfect spot. If he could just block off the front just enough for him to go in and out but not enough to let people see him. So he got to work. He grabbed the trunk of a bush with his teeth and pulled it out of the ground. He placed it above the spot where he was going to sleep. Around him were lots of sticks. He used his claws to pile those in front of him. He used his teeth and claws to grab leaves for bedding and went to sleep.
When he woke up, he picked a path and hoped it would lead him to the river. He thought he could hear water rushing coming from the left and middle paths, so he chose the middle one. When he went to stand by it, he could hear the river louder. He started going down the middle path. And then started running. The sound of rushing water was getting louder, and louder, and louder. Then he saw it, the river. He scrambled down onto the rocky bay, and he saw the cliff where he had caught the goat. All he had to do was get across the river. The river was too wide to jump, and the only boulder in the river that he could see was too high to jump onto from the bank without falling off. There were some smaller rocks sticking out of the water, but he couldn’t jump to them because they were too small. He had to swim. He put his paw on the water and almost got it pulled out from under him, by the rushing river. He decided to put both front paws in, and dig them under the rocks in the river bed to anchor himself. It was working even though he could feel his legs shaking. He stepped forward, getting his back legs into the water. Then he dug those in as well. He was anchored by all four paws. He thought he could loosen one of his front paws and grab the smaller stones, when a large gust of wind knocked him off his feet. He was being carried by the current down the stream. In a desperate attempt to stay where he was, he started kicking with his hind legs and digging his paws into the earth. Then he dug his hind legs into the ground, and pulled himself onto the rocks. He got up onto the rocks and started climbing from rock to rock till he reached the far bank. He smelled something to eat. Something like a large plump rabbit. He started walking towards the smell, making sure he was downwind and not making any sudden movements or noises. Then, he pounced. He almost missed, but he raked its hind legs and neck with his claws. He chomped down, and devoured the rabbit in three swift gulps.
He continued heading home, for about five more minutes. He got back to his tree and found his pet human there waiting for him.