Today we are featuring Inklings Book Contest 2018 finalist, Lisa Fung! Lisa finished 7th grade this past school year. The story she submitted is called “The Pi World.” One of our judges called Lisa’s story as a “compelling mystery.” Enjoy!
Crackle! I cautiously stepped over the muddy, slimy ground of the Greentern Forest with my younger sister, Leslie Jeff. We had snuck out on a quest to find the Eternity Disk, which was said to have the power to keep one alive for as long as one wants once one touches it. It was made and crafted by aliens and had fallen out of their spacecraft during a flight. Legend had that the Eternity Disk landed on earth when the world started.
“You sure it is somewhere here, Leo?” whispered Leslie.
“It’s probably somewhere in the tree trunk here.”
“Naughty, naughty little children must want to get caughty, caughty,” a strange rhythmic voice spoke.
“What was that?” asked Leslie in panic.
“Oh, you’ll never in your whole life guess,” came the same voice.
Two days earlier, I had been in history class discussing ancient times and myths. Mr. Adwar had a rare and antique book that he owned and said that no one could read it except the one that he chose. He unlocked his secret cabinet and walked inside it. Luckily, I had gotten an average A for all my subjects this school year and sat by myself in the front row in every class. I bent over my desk to see what Mr. Adwar was getting out. Unexpectedly, he went through another locked door he just unlocked. It seemed to have a walkway and he walked through there. Five minutes had passed and my class was growing restless. I heard kids whispering about what happened.
“Maybe he got eaten by a monster,” joked Allen.
“Or a dinosaur,” replied Josh.
“Did you see where he went, Leo?” Ben bent over his desk to ask me.
I felt like where he went should be kept a secret, so I didn’t answer directly but said, “Shush! He’s going to come back. Just wait!” Most people stopped talking. Except for one—Billy.
“The teacher’s pet just wants to show that he’s responsible, when he’s really not,” jeered Billy.
I ignored him, and at that exact moment, Mr. Adwar came out of his secret cabinet. He was carrying a book titled, Myths, Legends, and Ancient Times. It was decorated with intricate floral designs around the perimeter and had multiple circles and odd images around the title. The book’s covers were very thick and the pages looked old. It was quite large, around the size of my backpack.
“Wowww,” everyone spoke in wonder.
“Yes, I know it is very exciting. Now, everyone, I am going to give you each a slip of paper. Write your names neatly on the paper and toss it in the jar. The name that I pick out will be the only one that gets to read this cool book.” Mr. Adwar passed out the slips of paper and we all wrote our names on it. We lined up in order without any talking and took turns one by one to put our slips in. When we were all done, we held our breaths to see who would be chosen.
Mr. Adwar reached in the jar, pulled out a slip that was folded, open it and said, “The only one who gets to read this book is…”
“Leo Jeff!” Mr. Adwar proclaimed. My friends, Allen and Josh, who sat behind me patted me on the back and congratulated me.
“Leo, come after school to read it,” Mr. Adwar smiled.
“Thank you!” I replied. Just then, the bell rang.
* * *
At lunchtime, I took my favorite chicken alfredo salad with a carton of milk to the table Allen, Josh, and I usually sat at. They were already there waving at me.
“Can you please show us the book when you get to bring it home?” Josh and Allen asked in unison.
“Well, Mr. Adwar said that I could read it; I don’t know if I can bring it home,” I answered.
“But if you can bring it home, can you let us see it?” Allen asked.
“I’ll ask Mr. Adwar after school,” I replied.
The rest of the day passed really slowly. Finally, the dismissal bell rang and I squished my way through the crowd with all my books to Mr. Adwar’s class. When I got there, Mr. Adwar had disappeared! All I saw was a giant broccoli there on the desk that wasn’t there before. I snuck closer and touched it with suspicion. It felt very rough.
I waited patiently at the desk I usually sat at, when the broccoli-like thing shook, leaped off the desk somehow, and then Mr. Adwar was sitting on his chair.
Something weird is going on, I thought.
“Ah, yes, Leo Jeff. So, first, the rules. Rule #1, no sharing the book with anyone, adults or peers,” he said, handing me the book.
“Could I share it with my sister, then?” I asked. Mr. Adwar thought for a second.
“Maybe,” Mr. Adwar replied.
“Rule #2, keep the book safe. Rule #3, no returning the book,” Mr. Adwar said. I couldn’t believe what he just said!
“Okay,” I replied unsurely.
I raced out of Mr. Adwar’s classroom excitedly.
“Bye, thank you.”
Then I ran to the bus stop, but the bus was gone. I decided to walk, actually run, back home. Just when I burst through the front door, I almost tripped.
“Leslie!” I screamed.
Mom hurried up to me and whispered, “Quiet, Leslie is studying for a test. Anyway, what took you so long?”
“Oh, I missed the bus and walked back,” I replied, without telling her the book or the meeting with Mr. Adwar. I hurried up the stairs, quickly dumped my backpack onto my desk, and tiptoed to Leslie’s room. I knocked on the door.
“What is it?” Leslie shouted. I quietly opened the door and saw Leslie bent over her desk and writing furiously.
“I got this from my history teacher,” I whispered as I slipped the book Myths, Legends, and Ancient Times to her. She looked up, stunned as she studied the cover.
“Also, don’t show Mom or Dad because my history teacher told me not to,” I warned her. Her eyes spied a tiny bookmark and opened to that page. The passage read:
The Eternity Disk is said to have the power to keep you alive as long as you want when you touch it. It is said that two siblings shall one day discover it. It is very much believed that it fell out of a spaceship crash. Henshaw Adwar spotted the Eternity Disk falling and drew a map of where it landed. It is still unknown where it has fallen, but Henshaw Adwar gave a clue saying it was in the Greentern Forest. For many years, FBI searched and tried to find it, but after 7 years of searching, they gave up and concluded that the whole thing was rubbish.
I wondered why Mr. Adwar would give me a book with his name in it. Then it hit me! We were the siblings that were supposed to go on the quest to find the Eternity Disk.
“Leslie, I think we are the siblings that are supposed to find the Eternity Disk! Think, why would Mr. Adwar pick my name out of the jar? Also, I asked if I could share it with you and he replied yes!” I exclaimed.
“I was thinking that too, but could it just be a coincidence that he picked your name out of the jar?” Leslie inquired unsurely.
“I am 100% sure that it was destined for us,” I replied confidently.
“Ok… if you’re sure.”
“Let’s plan it tomorrow,” I replied.
* * *
“Ok, so maybe in like four days when we go camping, we can sneak out. The problem is, how long will the quest take?” I asked.
“You know, I have a secret weapon and I never told anyone where it is or what it does. I will show it to you, but you must never mention it. Now come.”
Inside her room, it was as clean as a whistle. She crept to a locked drawer and punched in the code: 3.141592653589793238462643383279502. Another drawer popped out. She signed the touchpad and another drawer popped out. There was another letter/number pad and a slip of paper that said: 5-9-12-19-5-12.
First, Leslie wrote: eilsel. Then she wrote it backward into Leslie. She punched that into the pad and a drawer with a key. She then unlocked the final drawer and inside there was a small disk with two buttons, about 6 inches thick. It was very plain and painted white, except for the tiny keyboard at the bottom and the numbers on the buttons.
“This is it. The left button that is labeled 16-1-21-19-5 starts pausing time. The right button labeled 18-5-19-21-13-5 resumes time. Also, if you press the buttons together at a time, then four zeros will appear and then you can turn them to make the year you want to go back to. Then you can write a message like The War of 1812, and you will go there.” She gave it to me to hold for a bit, and it was pretty heavy.
“Wow,” I gasped. “You have a TIME MACHINE!”
“Shush!” Leslie whispered. “This must be kept secret!”
Suddenly my stomach grumbled, I realized I didn’t have dinner yet. I quickly grabbed some milk and cookies. Just when I drank the milk, I accidentally tipped my glass a little and some milk spilled out, soaking the back of the book.
“Oh no!” I screamed, hoping it wasn’t ruined. Suddenly, the milk began to reveal a map on the back of the book! It showed the Greentern Forest and there was an X mark in the middle.
“That must be where the Eternity Disk was hidden!” Leslie and I laughed and nodded to each other.
A few days later, our family was in the Greentern Forest, camping. We finished setting up the tents. Then we went on a family hike. Leslie had brought her time machine with her in a small backpack.
“Let’s do it today,” I whispered to Leslie.
“Sure,” Leslie replied.
“Mom!” I hollered.
“Yeah?” Mom asked as she came hurrying to me.
“Can Leslie and I go explore until noon?” I beseeched unsurely.
“Yes, but come back no later than noon for lunch, and don’t get lost.”
I rushed over to my dad. “Daddy, can I borrow your telescope?”
“NO! You might break it!” he replied. I shrugged and ran over to Leslie. We went over the hillside where our parents couldn’t see us. Leslie first pressed the pause button and then took out the drawing that was a copy of the map.
“This is where we are,” I said, pointing to the map a few feet from the tree with the X. We proceeded to the tree. There I spied the same large broccoli I had seen on Mr. Adwar’s desk.
“Who are you?” I asked the broccoli. Then suddenly, the broccoli changed into… Mr. Adwar!
“It was you!” I shouted in surprise.
“Yes,” he said in this strange rhythmic voice. “Here.” He handed me a piece of paper, then disappeared just like that!
We looked down and read the paper: “gentel-ovtfsi-tniolo-oinonac.”
“What do you suppose this means?” I asked Leslie. “I think it is a cipher.”
“Maybe you could separate the letters into rows since between each hyphen there are six letters,” Leslie suggested. I studied the paper for a minute.
“Leslie, you’re a genius!” I exclaimed. I grabbed my notepad and I made boxes and wrote letters in them like this:
“I don’t get it,” Leslie said, slowly studying the letters.
“Read the letters down and when you get to the bottom, look right and then read up and-”
“Oh, I get it now,” Leslie interrupted.
“So it says ‘go to invention of Tesla coil,’” I said, figuring out the cipher.
“Hey, Nikola Tesla was the one who invented the Tesla coil in 1891.” Leslie quickly took the time machine, turned it to 1891, and wrote ‘invention of Tesla coil.’
Leslie took my hand and we both held the machine. I closed my eyes and I felt as if I was being sucked into a black hole. When I opened my eyes, I was in a lab full of electric devices. There was Nikola Tesla himself testing something.
“Yes! It has finally worked!” Nikola Tesla exclaimed. Suddenly he noticed us.
“Who are you? Children. What are you doing in my lab?”
“I am Leo Jeff and this is my sister, Leslie. Mr. Adwar sent us here on a quest to get the Eternity Disk,” I replied truthfully, not knowing what would happen.
“You mean Henshaw Adwar?!” Tesla said, sounding surprised.
“Yes,” Leslie answered quietly.
“Here, he left me this to give to you,” Tesla said, giving me a paper and another package. “Do you want to see my machine?”
“Sure,” Leslie and I said simultaneously. Tesla turned it on and sparks made large bolts of lightning connect between the two generators.
“Wow,” we gasped. “That is magical!”
“Now read your paper and open your gift,” smiled Tesla. We looked down and it said:
So, you figured out the cipher, huh? You might think you’re going to find the eternity disk, but you’re not; you’re actually on a quest to find the Transformer Ray, which can transform you into any size and anything. Also, I have to admit now, that I truly am an alien.
The Eternity Disk does NOT exist.
The Pi World
“There’s no Eternity Disk!?” I shouted, feeling my frustration rising. “So we came all this way to find this machine that transforms you? Why would we even want that?” All the excitement that I had before was gone and replaced with frustration, anger, and disappointment. I was very certain that we would find the Eternity Disk, so when this hit me, I was not very happy.
“It’s alright Leo,” Leslie said. “The Transformer Ray won’t be too bad. I know how you feel, but let’s continue to find the Transformer Ray.”
“Oh well. What about the gift?” I asked. I took it out of my pocket and opened it. Inside, there were pieces of pie with the symbol π! We happily ate them before our journey back.
We left Nikola Tesla’s lab feeling both a tad excited and disappointed that there was no Eternity Disk, but we were going to find the Transformer Ray. We got back to the tree and I spotted an object that looked like a popsicle stuck in a hole in the trunk. This had to be the Transformer Ray!
It was pretty high up, so I climbed the tree, almost slipping until I grabbed it from the hole. Just then, Mr. Adwar and a dog-like animal wearing an astronaut suit with the symbol π on it appeared.
“This is my dog Stopy, who is allergic to air, so he is wearing this suit. My real name is Quizlet Nitrous. Do you want to come visit the world we live on?” Mr. Adwar asked.
“Sure!” we replied excitedly.
“Hold on to my hands,” Quizlet commanded. Leslie and I grabbed his hands and Quizlet said cheerfully, “Let’s go!”
Everything turned black and we were pulled through a vortex. Suddenly we landed in a soft place that seemed to be made of pie! The buildings were all shaped like π!
“Welcome to the Pi World!” Quizlet welcomed us grandly. “Now follow me and I’ll show you around. The building and the ground are edible and you can eat pie off it.” I picked up a chunk of pie from the ground. Boy, did it taste delicious!
Quizlet led us into the biggest building and the doors opened by themselves.
There were so many artifacts in there that it looked like a museum, all oddly shaped and colored. I took out the Transformer Ray took a piece of pie from the ground. I aimed the Transformer Ray at it and typed in ball. The pie shaped into a ball and then turned into a bouncy, red ball.
Next, we headed to Quizlet’s house. We walked for a while until we reached a neighborhood full of houses made of pie and decorated with numbers. We stopped at one of the identical houses and Quizlet marched up the steps with Stopy. He put his hand to the door and it automatically opened, revealing a cool stairway to the roof. We followed Quizlet and stepped onto the roof, awed at the telescope in front of us. It was like nothing I had ever seen, made of wood, not pie, keeping several mirrors in place. Quizlet stepped up and adjusted a few knobs to his satisfaction.
“Do you two want to take a look?” Quizlet offered.
“Of course,” we replied. I stepped up first and saw the Earth very clearly. Quizlet must have turned another knob because that zoomed into the Greentern Forest and I spotted my mom and dad checking the time. I let Leslie take her turn and she was equally amazed.
“This is cool, isn’t it? Now, do you want to go back?” Quizlet asked.
“Sure,” we answered. We held onto Quizlet’s hands again, shortly we landed back in the Greentern Forest.
“That was a great adventure!” we exclaimed, waving goodbye to Quizlet and Stopy.
Just when we got back to the camping site, Mom rushed to us.
“Where have you been? Did you get lost?”
Leslie and I looked at each other, nodding and smiling.
“Yep. We got lost in time and space!” we grinned back.
Wondering how to support the youth writer in your life? We can help! Check out our cheat-sheet below which will help you have creative, writerly conversations with your Young Inkling—even if you’re not a writer yourself.