2068 C.E. by E. Yamamoto

The street lights slowly blink on, as I do my homework in my residential unit.  I wait for #1138 to arrive.  As if Accelerated Global & Diversity Class (AGDC) homework was not hard enough, my burnt arm begins to throb uncomfortably again.  I limp (due to my broken kneecap) over to the unit’s QuickAid kit and apply new bandages to my arm, and for good measure, I change the dressing to the now infected acid wound that covers the left side of my face.  I have had to deal with this since numbers 1507, 4617, and 2045 cornered me in our school’s Chem Lab (at least they cleaned up after themselves this time) two days ago.  I would have gone straight to the Community hospital afterward, but my school had a mandatory presentation from the Tolerance Police, and I have not had any time since.  Just as I am about to head back to the desk, I hear a polite knock on the door.

“Come in, #1138,” I call.  We have never spoken before, but it is considered tactless (even illegal if we had laws) to refuse someone’s invitation, lest one offends them.  All I know about her is that like me, she is one of the few people to score a perfect 900 on the BRE.  Unlike me, she chooses to spend all of her free time at community service projects and has many friends.

“Thanks, #1701, and how did you know it was me?”  she enters, replying with a little more confidence.

“My Fellow Residents never knock, and I am not expecting anyone,”  I respond offhandedly as I find a chair for her.  I notice that she has been to the cosmetic center recently.  Her hair is a bright orange with one side cropped short, and her olive skin has taken a distinctive blue sheen.  It is the current trend for showing that one is “different”.  She takes a seat while staring at me peculiarly.

“Not to offend,”  she begins,  “but is it true that you, #1701, eschew friendships of any kind?  I mean it’s good that you don’t make exceptions at (that would hardly be nice to everyone else!) but it must get tiring to express your individuality that way,”

“Actually, that was rather offensive,” I feel my face reddening, but I look up from the desk and see that her facial expression has changed from one of curiosity to mollification and embarrassment.  I cut her off as she begins to apologize excessively. “But I don’t care.  If we were allowed to be as offensive as we liked without worrying about the Tolerance Police, I bet we all could get a lot more done,”  I shove her my homework.  She is a year older, so homework help was a convenient excuse to have her come over.  Her expression, which had so quickly changed from to curiosity to shame now melts to one of discomfort and nervousness.  Her face clouds over and she looks away from me.  It is unheard of to question an institution as benevolent as the Tolerance Police!

As she looks over my answers, she smiles and begins to laugh.

“#1701, I don’t understand.  You’re at the top of your class, these questions should be easy for you,”  She looks up to see my blank expression and continues,  “I’ll do the first one for you, ‘How was the invention of airplanes by Our Society a technological advance that allowed us to win the Second World War single-handedly?’  Simple, with airplanes, we were able to support our ground troops and ships.  It gave us light, but powerful reinforcements which other nations did not possess at the time.  You can elaborate,”  I stare at her smiling face in disbelief.

“What you just said is simply incorrect,” I begin. “It’s an established fact that airplanes were invented much earlier.  Furthermore, Our Society was not the only nation to possess airplanes in the Second World War, you could go downtown to the Community museum to see that.  Finally, we certainly did not win that war ourselves.  That’s hubris we can not afford as a nation.”

As if physically shocked by the harshness of my words, she sits straight up in her seat and glares at me.

“#1701, how could you say something as awful as that? That was incredibly offensive and I don’t underst-”

“I think you understand plenty.  And stop calling me #1701!  No one ever got offended by a name.  You are intelligent enough to know that what you said is a contradiction.  I just hoped that I was not the only one who could admit it to myself”

All pretenses of being polite fade.  The girl shoots up from her seat.

“You are being unpatriotic, intolerant, and bigoted.  You are not being a Good Citizen, and I feel it’s my civic duty to report what you have said to the Tolerance Police”  She tries to break away, but I grab her arm and prevent her from reaching the unit’s door.  She may be older than me, but she has never had to fight for her safety.

“Hear me out, because you’re just as bad as me if you leave,”  I do not wait before I continue.  “Tell me, what’s your definition of a bully?”

“Someone who forces their will on others, making the person do or not do what they otherwise wouldn’t”  she retorts easily enough, glaring at my hand which is still preventing her from retreating.

“Right,” I respond. The acid wound throbs uncomfortably, “And our government tries to prevent bullies as much as possible by allowing everyone their own voice, right?”

“Of course, so I don’t see why you-”

“But by definition, the allowance for one voice is the suppression of another.  Don’t you see that everyone thinks and acts uniformly?  Look at what happened to me, I refused to stand up during our ‘Optional Required Pledge of Tolerance’ and I got beaten up.  Think about it, the slogan of the Tolerance Police is literally ‘We don’t tolerate intolerance.’  Now that sounds a lot like your definition of bullying, don’t you think?”

I see that she has stopped struggling.  We stare at each other.

“I guess I see where you’re coming from,”  More silence follows.  I loosen my grip on her arm.  She makes no move to the door.  “I, mean… I  guess I agree with the number thing at least.”  She then whispers, as if afraid to say it even to herself, “I hate being called #1138,”

“What would you rather be called?”  I ask.

Before she can respond, a sharp knock sounds twice on the door.  I shuffle over, only to see that the locked door swings open.  In front of me are a man and woman of about equal height.  Both are wearing government mandated coats.

“Hello, we are from the Tolerance Police.  We are just here to do a random inspection,”  I turn to see the girl looks concerned, rather than excited as she should have been.  The woman takes my arm in an iron grip and leads me to the central hallway outside of my unit.

“Wait!”  myy friend calls,  “If she goes, take me, too.”  The man, who was just about to give her a drug which I recognized would induce temporary amnesia very quickly, looks puzzled, but the woman goes in again and grabs my friend.

“Trust me, we are going to have much fun working together,”  the woman says to us as I feel a sharp sting on the back of my neck.  I turn to see the man inject a needle into my friend’s neck as well. The fiery pain spreads down my spine, my vision blurs, and I stumble to the ground.

“Help, I can’t mo-”  my friend gasps before she to collapses.  I stare back helplessly.  I can not move my mouth to talk back.  The two agents of the tolerance police stand over us with blank expressions.  Shortly after I feel my arms stiffen, and I sense that my legs are going numb.  Seconds later I black out.

The Sea by Elola Eckford

Waves crashing against a shore,

The tide is coming in.

Cold seeping into a wetsuit,

Hearing the sea sing.

 

Ripples in a rock pool,

Seaweed tangles your feet.

Catching fish in a net,

Fingers sifting through the sleet.

 

Water rushes over my back,

I jump these tidal waves.

Diving, gliding through the sea,

These currents i do brave,

 

I comb the beach for treasures,

Cupping shells to my ear,

Watching from the cliff-face,

As ‘way from the rocks boats steer.

 

And from my bedroom window,

I listen to the sea sing.

Knowing my home truly is,

Where from water waves spring.

 

The Story of a Smile by Ceylin Erkan

“Smile, say cheese!” I heard the photographer exclaim, his voice echoing against the walls of the auditorium. He had spent about an hour trying to arrange the way we stood and looked as the students of the Orphanage of London.

Anyways, let me first start by introducing myself. My name is Rosaleen. Including the past 12 years of my life, I’ve always been smiling, even at the darkest and scariest of times. I’ve also been somewhat clumsy, although every moment I’ve tried to be active and sociable. I sometimes feel like my body is playing a trick on me. It awkwardly and involuntarily makes me do things that I sometimes don’t even want to do. However, that’s me.

A few months ago, we, as the kids of the Orphanage of London, have been informed that we’ll be taking a fun trip to the United States of America. All of us were so excited and overjoyed when we heard the news. The reason for this kind of trip is probably best defined as the orphanage’s reputation on the society. They’ll most definitely call the newspaper editors and TV shows to let them know basically how great they are.

So, today was the picture day, and its object was to publish photographs of all the people at the orphanage including the staff and the kids on a newspaper article talking about how the Orphanage of London is the best than any other in the year of 1990. Tomorrow was going to be the actual trip day to New York. I’ve been enthusiastically waiting for this day to come for about a few months, and here it was, only hours away.

Finally, the long day ended, and I went straight to my bed at night. Before I slept, I dreamed about what kind of place America would be like, and the numerous things I could do when I got there. With the comforting feeling my thoughts gave me, I fell to sleep…

 

***

 

It was an exhausting trip experience with the plane, but it was definitely worth it.  We had finally got outside the airport, and there I saw a huge city crowded with people and tall buildings. The people from the orphanage walked along the sideways, obsessed with everything they saw.  The staff was leading the students to look around the beautiful city. Finally, all of us got tired, and decided that we should just take the bus to Manhattan.

After getting a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, I knew we had arrived. From there we rushed to a hotel and got rooms for every pair. I simply paired up with a shy and an agreeable girl whom I knew from before. It was already night, so we just slept right after we had gotten into our rooms.

All the people at the orphanage woke up at 7 a.m. We probably had a long day awaiting us in the City of Dreams. I was astonished when I saw thousands of people crowded like ants at this early hour of the morning outside the hotel.

Our first destination was Central Park. I had never heard of the name before, so from the title it was given I assumed it would basically be a park in the center of New York. If I were to be honest, the expectation bars weren’t high. We again took the bus to the destination. In the bus, there were excited mutterings about the Central Park. I was disappointed with myself that I didn’t even know anything about this place. However, we arrived. Everything in my brain was suddenly wiped out, and without needing to worry about even a single fact, I felt satisfied. I stared at the incredible place with awe.

The Central Park could be defined as “one in a million.” Sitting at the center of tall buildings packed together, there was a masterpiece of nature. I shook my head, and my brain started to fill up. The first question that came to mind was, “Apart from all these crowded buildings, how do the people manage to preserve this part of nature?”  The wonderful place could be compared to a tame animal right in the middle of a bunch of wild animals. We listened as the tour guide gave information about the history of the place, enthusiastic.

Unfortunately, just after I felt a raindrop on top of my nose, it started raining like cats and dogs. Everyone around was urgent to move to a safe place. I followed the girl from last night, but it was difficult to keep up regarding the fact that about hundreds of people were in the place. Everyone was just staring at me because I was smiling, but I couldn’t help it. I could simply not move the muscles of my face . . . And surrounded by that thought, I lost sight of the girl, of anyone whom I knew. There I was, in the middle of the stormy rain. I didn’t know where to go, nor what to do. I just stood there alone, desperate.

 

***

 

The sun had risen again a few hours later. Although the Orphanage of London is supposed to be very organized and careful, no one did come back for me. None of the staff had informed us about what to do in situations like this. I didn’t know anything about this city, and now I was all on myself.

Across from me, there was a woman watching me mysteriously. After she recognized my glimpse, she smiled and started walking towards me.

“How nice you are!” suggested the woman, then added, “You’ve been smiling almost for an hour. That is incredible!”

Oh…” I said disappointedly, “I’ve always been smiling my whole life, so it is not an extraordinary thing for me.”

The woman suddenly lost her spirits, as if she was recalling something.

“What’s your name?” the woman asked with a spiritless voice.

“Rosaleen. What about you?” I wondered.

“Where are your parents?” the woman surprisingly changed the subject.

“I don’t have parents. I came all the way from London just for a trip with the orphanage,” I explained, feeling ignored and interrupted.

“So, may I ask why you are here sitting alone for a total of 2 hours and 37 minutes?” the woman inquired.

“Well, I’m supposed to be with them . . . But, when the rain poured down a few hours ago, I lost sight of them in the crowd. And now . . . I don’t know what to do,” I described, getting gloomy, but still smiling.

“Okay, nothing to worry about. I’ll help you find them!” the woman grew enthusiastic again. She definitely had rapid mood changes, I thought.

From there, she helped me to stand up, then we started walking, discussing what to do first. Apart from all that, we both couldn’t resist telling each other something about our lives. We figured out that we were very much alike after comparing our personalities. I told her about how I had been smiling literally my whole life, although it brought the woman’s spirits down again.

The woman’s name was actually Belle. She was one of the best brain surgeons in New York, and had born and been raised in New York. At the start of our journey, we were no more than two strangers who knew nothing about each other, but surprisingly, towards the end of our journey, we were like two old friends who have known each other for years.

“I think that’s enough of talking about personal lives, right?” Belle asked me gladly. Even though we had planned about talking what to do for finding the people of my orphanage, we had been talking about our lives for about an hour.

“Oh, yeah, definitely,” I agreed sarcastically, “we should go back to our main issue.”

The woman looked at her watch and suggested, “Why don’t we just go to my house and rest for a bit? Don’t worry, I promise we’ll continue our search early tomorrow morning.”

“That makes sense,” I said agreeably, “sure.”

 

***

 

There was something that made me and Belle attract each other like magnets. I never did want to go back to London, I wanted to stay with Belle here, in New York, but I had to keep telling myself that it was impossible.

However, we arrived at the “great mansion” of Belle. It was a huge, lilac colored house. It looked very pretty from the outside, and I wondered what the inside of the house would be like. The inside was just the same, beautiful and satisfying. Belle wasn’t married, so she lived all by herself in the house. She showed me the room I’d be sleeping in, after walking about 5 minutes around the maze-like structure of her house. When it was time to sleep, I respectively thanked Belle and went to my room and fell into a deep sleep…

The next day, I woke up, and excitedly went to the living room where Belle was. Suddenly, my smile had faded, because Belle was… different.

“Come, sit,” she insisted, trying to look alive.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, looking into her beautiful sparkling blue eyes.

“Look, Rosaleen,” she started, “there is something I have to tell you. Yesterday, when I was watching you . . . I recognized something, and I got suspicious . . .”

“Come on, Belle, what could it be, just tell me straight away,” I said, hoping the issue wasn’t serious.

“Okay, fine,” Belle inhaled deeply, then added, “Rosaleen, I’m really sorry about this, but . . . my research in medical school was about a brain disorder, a unique and a rare one. And yesterday, I recognized that my research and you were somehow connected.”

“I don’t understand anything you’re saying,” I said, confused.

“Based on my research from years ago and the research I made just yesterday night when you were asleep, you have a high chance of having a genetic brain disorder. It is where the person cannot stop smiling. Just like you… The person is also somewhat clumsy in many aspects, and sometimes involuntarily does stuff. Rosaleen, does this description match you or not?”

I couldn’t speak. Words just didn’t come out of my mouth. I stared at her, not believing anything she had said. But it was true. The description she had given me and myself were like puzzle pieces. There was still that smile on my face . . .

Rosaleen continued, trying to be reasonable, “But, technically, there is nothing to worry about. I will be your surgeon. You trust me, right? Look on the bright side, after, you won’t be forced to smile, ever. You’ll smile whenever you want to. Can’t you imagine how wonderful that will be?”

 

***

28 YEARS LATER

 

How wonderful was being able to snort! I had told the phrase to myself over and over again for the future 28 years of my life. I was a woman now, a woman who wasn’t smiling all the time. My mother, Belle, had adopted me from an orphanage 28 years ago, and she had made me who I am today. Regarding the fact that she was my idol and what I wanted to be like when I grew up, I followed her path and became a brain surgeon like her. And now, just like my mother did, I cured children who were forced to smile by an unfortunate defect in their brains, just like me!

How the Pencil Stole Erasers by Gabriel Echeverry

Chapter 1

 

Ca-Ching! Jackson hears the typical sound of his mother’s cashier. Jackson’s mom owned an artifact store that was known all around Canada for all of the rare stuff they sold. They had from thousand-year-old pottery from all around the world to a baseball hit by Babe Ruth in a Yankees game.

“Hi, Honey! How was school?” his mother asks.

“Ok,” replies Jackson in an unsure tone. Actually, he got a D plus on a math test and he lost his lunch. “Have anything I could scrape up from the storage today?” he asked hopefully.

“Well I do have something but I’m not sure you`ll like it,” she responded. “Something is something, said Jackson desperately.

So his mom packed the two things in a box and told him not to open it until he got home. On his way home he wondered what was in the little box his mother packed for him. But when he got home he was very disappointed. When he opened the box all he saw was another box made of glass and a little pencil. He had no idea what he was going to do with the two things. All he could think of was to put the pencil inside the box.

“What a rip off!” Jackson exclaimed. Usually Jackson’s mom gave him cool stuff like comic books or baseball cards, but this time, she didn’t search hard enough, or did she?

Meanwhile, as Jackson did his homework he started to hear some strange noises. Clack! A small noise was coming from inside the room. Jackson jumped from his seat and asked in panic, “Who’s there???”

But as shocking as it sounds, a little voice answered with delight, “Oh, thank goodness you found me. Could you get me out of this dark, door-less room?”

Jackson fainted.

A few minutes later he woke up and remembered what had just happened. A little man was inside the peculiar box his mom gave him and wanted him to get him out. So Jackson carefully crept up to the box and slowly opened it. This gave him a huge shock. He saw no man, but only the little pencil he had put in it, only now IT was a HE!!!!! Jackson was now more shocked than the first time. The little pencil had eyes, ears, nose, mouth, arms, and legs.

“Did I bring you to life?” Jackson asked in horror.

“No. That little box you put me in has magical powers that can bring things such as myself to life. I know what you want to ask, how do I know all of what I just said. Well, I was a secondhand pencil that has gone all over the world and passed through different schools from all around. So right now you can ask me anything you want,” proclaimed the pencil proudly.

Jackson was stunned. He owned a pencil that doesn’t just come to life if you put it in a magical box, it also knew everything.

“So could you help me in school? My grades are kind of bad, but you can help me turn them around!” Jackson exclaimed in delight.

“Your wishes are my command. After all, you did bring me to life!” yelled the pencil in delight. Now Jackson had a super brainy pencil that just came to life. That was a bright, problem free future, or was it?

 

Chapter 2

 

The next day, Jackson woke up extremely early so that he could put the pencil in his backpack without it making a big fuss about it being smelly. But on the walk to school it just wouldn`t shut up. At first it started to budge about being uncomfortable inside the backpack, but then, it forgot about the stuff bothering him and so he started to say all sorts of randomly useless facts like when the first pop-up toaster was invented and stuff like that.

When the two of them got to school, they were exhausted, but things started looking up! Apparently, Jackson had a pop quiz on distance measurements which he hadn`t studied for, but he was all covered. The pencil did his magic and started working on the test, meanwhile Jackson read a book inside his desk. And the rest of the day went exactly the same except for last period: science. Science was kind of boring. Mr. Shrookshanks did these super long lectures on the unit, in this case: The Galaxy.

Mr. Shrookshanks was one of those teachers who like to give those super long speeches about our new topics in class. So I entered the white room filled with fancy gadgets and models of plants and animals. Jackson sat down on his favorite chair and waited for Mr. Shrookshanks to start talking. He started by telling us about how important it was to pay attention to the things we learn in class, because you never know when you might need it. Then he told us we were in for a treat, but usually his treats freaked Jackson out because the last treat he gave us were two straight lessons on human reproduction, and the one before was on the food chain. But this time he wasn’t lying. “Kids, today we are going to study all about the weird stuff in nature.”

Jackson was amazed by what he had just heard. Finally, he thought he would do something cool. And the pencil kept his ears open to see if he heard some good information (that’s what the pencil did every time the teacher said something interesting).

Mr. Shrookshanks started by telling the class some boring stories, but, then, something caught Jackson’s attention.

“Some ancient artifacts were enchanted by magic unknown to us today that had powers, and when those powers were put into these items, they became charms that could do miraculous things like bring things to life!” he proclaimed in his sharp clear voice.

But before he could say anything else, Jackson blasted his hand into the air and yelled as if he’d just been shot,” I just got an enchanted box that can bring things to life!”

“Good for you. How about you bring it to school tomorrow?” Mr. Shrookshanks hissed back in a calm but angry tone. He is usually a calm and cool teacher, but today, he really blew up inside out.

The bell rang, and it was time to go home.

“That was quite a day,” Jackson said sweating.

“You can say that again. How about we tell some jokes on the way home? Oh and can you also get me out of here? ” squeaked the little pencil from inside the backpack. So Jackson got the little pencil out of the backpack and went home with a riot of laughter from all of the pencil’s great jokes.

When they got home the pencil got going on Jackson’s homework, meanwhile Jackson grabbed the box and put it in his backpack right along with another pencil he could use as a demonstration to the class for the next day. Just then, his mother got home.

“Hi, Honey! How was school?” she said in that usual silky mommy tone.

“Great! I aced all the quizzes and answered everything correctly!” he boomed down to his mom from his room in pride. But he told her he had a lot of homework to do, so he slammed the door and got going, but by the time he got there, the pencil had already finished. So they went to bed looking forward to the presentation.

 

Chapter 3

 

The next day Jackson was bothered, because the other students thought that he had lost his mind and that he had imagined everything about that box, but when Science period started, all of the jaws in the classroom dropped (including Mr. Shrookshanks’, who isn’t that easily impressed).

What Jackson did was that he put the new pencil he brought inside the rare box and left it there for ten minutes. Just then he heard it. So, he opened the box and there it stood. A pencil with eyes, nose, mouth, ears, arms, and legs. No one spoke for the rest of last period except for the new pencil. It started to sing “What Does the Fox Say.” When last period was over, nobody would stop talking about the magical pencil and its radioactive voice for singing.

So on his way home he was really proud. He had aced every test and he amazed everyone in his class. Nothing can go wrong. Or could it?

The next day Jackson had a math quiz. The new pencil started to answer randomly, because he didn’t know anything, but even Jackson knew that the new pencil was incorrect. So he erased what the pencil had put so that the experienced one could do it all over again.

But, then the new one proclaimed in disagreement, “Hey! You can’t destroy my creation! It was perfect, and you disappeared it using that magical erasing machine!”

“It’s called an eraser and I don’t want to get an F because of a moody pencil!” Jackson whined at the fresh new pencil.

Meanwhile the other pencil was working on the test, but suddenly, “Jackson! Who are you talking to?” hissed Mr. Staples: the math teacher.

Jackson hesitated, “Um . . . No one, I’m just talking to myself!”

After that quiz the new pencil stayed inside the smelly backpack for the rest of the day, but he was plotting the biggest robbery that Canada had ever seen. He would steal all the erasers in the country in just one night. But he needed help. He couldn’t do all of this alone. And he couldn’t rely on the two people he knew.

 

Chapter 4

 

He needed an army large enough to cover all of Canada in that night. Then a bright idea shone in his mind. He had to wait till night to do all this. And so he did. When school finished at last, he stayed still and stiff as an iron bar. But he got bored on his way to the house so he started to do Jacksons homework even though he knew nothing of the sort.

After that he fell asleep. He was woken up by a huge thud and a hard hit on the back. It was Jackson flinging his backpack across the room. Now all he had to do was go shopping for pencils. He carefully crept out of the room without being seen meanwhile Jackson and the other pencil were redoing the completely incorrect homework.

“What a great distraction,” he murmured under his breath with a grin on his little wooden face. He went from store to store shoplifting all the pencils he could find. But then he figured out that he couldn´t bring them all back on his own, so he took a pencil box that carried twenty-four pencils and brought it home. He left it on the doorstep while he went for the magical box. He was lucky that Jackson and the other pencil were reading a book in the kitchen, so the coast was clear. He snatched the magical box as quickly as he could and ran back downstairs into the doorstep.

He put down the peculiar box and stuffed the fresh, new pencils in it. He closed it, and, in a few minutes, all the pencils were alive.

“Fellow Pencils. We have to create an army. I will later explain what it is for. But if we want to make it, I will need you to go and get all the pencils you can gather and bring them back here. Do you understand?”

All the other pencils were stunned. He sounded like he meant business, so without a question, they all ran off to get as many pencils as they could. By the time they got back, they had over a million boxes mounted up into a little hill as high as the house. So, one by one they put the pencils inside the box and little by little, all the pencils were alive. By the time they were all alive it was midnight and the group was as large as the population of Canada (which is around 35 million, which is not that much).

So he gathered all the pencils at The Peace Monument in Ontario. He climbed to the top of the head of the monument and with a loud clear voice he proclaimed, “Hello to all the pencils from all around Canada. I would like to ask you for a little help on defeating our natural enemy. We create and they erase and destroy our creations, so I am planning on eliminating this creature and ending all this erasing nonsense, but I will need your help. You will recognize this creature for being either white or pink. And remember it can´t harm you because it is life-less. LET’S GO!!!”

The crowd gave a loud, cheerful roar. They got into squads of a thousand pencils each. They would gather back at the monument by dawn to burn all the erasers they found. But what they didn`t realize was that the roar the crow gave was so loud that it could be heard from a mile by the sharpest ears. And that’s what happened.

The little pencil in Jackson`s house was woken up by the loud roar. So he woke up Jackson. He told him that he had just heard a large group of pencils yell at a frequency only pencils could hear but then it hit him.

“Of course! It was that other pencil you brought to life yesterday. Remember how furious he was when I erased his work. And then he did some random things on my homework to use as a distraction, so he could leave the house! This all adds up!” blasted Jackson at the pencil with joy.

“Yeah. But the loud roar that woke me up surpassed the twenty million pencils by far!” the pencil whined in fright.

“Then what are we waiting for,” said Jackson bravely.

So they tip-toed downstairs, grabbed the magical box, and set off in the direction of the sound on Jackson’s bike.

 

 

Chapter 5

 

They got to the key place of the operation at around two in the morning. All the erasers were already gathered in a big pile with acres of land covered in pencils that were looking at the hill of pink and white.

“How do we get in?” asked Jackson in a panic.

“There is one way to stop this. You will have to open and close the box ten times, and after that, everything ever brought to life by the box will automatically burn to a crisp. Even though you will lose me, I made you a sheet that has all the stuff you will learn throughout the school year, so you will do just fine without me,” the pencil said calmly.

So, Jackson did as he was told and right before the erasers were burned, a shiny silver light came out of the box and in a few seconds all the pencils were burned to ash. So, Jackson returned to his house before his mother woke up.

A few months later, Jackson couldn´t stop thinking about the pencil, but then he had to start focusing more on school. Fortunately, with the review page the pencil gave him, his grades went up and he became a straight A student. He thanked the pencil every day for that boost.

The Rope Bridge By June Tun and Carolina Sapriza

    “The Rope Bridge”

By June Tun and Carolina Sapriza

There once was a little girl named Mary. It was her birthday, turning seven years old. Her mother had promised her that after she picked up her sister from school, she would bake her a chocolate cake twice the size of her head.

“But don’t stray from the dirt path,” her mother warned, “or else bad things will happen.”

“Yes, Mother,” replied Mary.

“Now off you go!” Mary’s mother walked her to the door and let Rosemary walk off onto the dusty dirt path.

Oh this path is so long, Mary thought. And quite boring.

“I should go to the rope bridge path. It’s so much faster. It’s my birthday after all,” she declared out loud. And she marched off to the Rope Bridge.

Oh, what a wonderful birthday, she thought, I’ll get back home quickly with my sister, eat that big chocolate cake and…

She halted. She was at the end of the Rope Bridge. She confidently looked up, expecting to see the other leafy green trees and a clear azure sky. However, the landscape was not at all cheery and bright. It was the complete opposite. The woods were bare, the sky was gray and bleak, and, at the center of the Rope Bridge, stood her raven-haired sister, looking downwards. Slowly, very slowly—slower than any human could move—her sister looked up staring into the eyes of Mary. But, her sister couldn’t look her in the eyes.  

Because she had no eyes.  Her face was completely blank, blank as a white sheet of paper. Mary gaped in horror, and let out the loudest shriek her lungs could manage. She whirled around and began to flee, not daring to look back. Mary ran all the way back to her home for safety.  As soon as she placed both of her feet down in her house she slammed the door as hard as she could and locked the door. Mary crumpled in front of the chestnut colored door, panting like a dog. Two minutes passed and Mary finally got to her feet. Then she wondered, Where is mother…?

She walked around the house, calling and calling her name.

“Mother? Mother?! MOTHER?!”

She then heard a thunk.

It was coming from the kitchen.

She sprinted to the kitchen. She peered out, and there was her mother, sitting in a chair, facing away.  

“Mother!” Mary cried, and ran to her, arms stretched.

The wretched mother turned; however, it was not her mother, but a white-haired woman. Without a face. Mary stopped in shock.

“Who…Who are you? And what did you do with my mother?” Mary trembled. The woman didn’t move. She simply sat there, head turned to face poor Mary. Where’s my mother!?

She tried to say, but her mouth couldn’t open. The world had turned into a black, noiseless, scentless oblivion.

Because she had no face anymore.



 

To Kill A Mocking Tyrant By Eden Arnoff

To Kill a Mocking Tyrant”

By Eden Aronoff

I wake up at 2am to train. I go to the secret gym, so nobody will notice me. I click the air and a bright, silvery screen pops up. I scroll down and go to the gym settings and press on the “weights” button. A silver, 30-pound weight crashes to the floor. I wrap my fingers around it and lift it up and down, up and down. Sweat beads on my skin. The light from the sun rising behind me glints off the silver weights. It reminds me of my father’s swords that he showed me. I think back to when I watched him practicing to be in the Marsian army. I was two then. So young. I could not think of what would happen to my father. Later that night a government official spied on my dad with his beady, watching eyes. They took my father away and killed him. No one was allowed to be in the army or prepare for the army if the high tyrant doesn’t say so. So, many years later, I am still fighting for him. But, I hear Luxa crying from her nursery. I run into her room and cradle her. I am also fighting for her, my baby. So that she can do whatever she wants to do, and not what the government wants her to do.

One Year Later

I am going to the dump to find a small foam sword for Luxa. I can’t go to any store because the high tyrant would not allow anyone to have swords. I find two small, gray and blue foam swords. I slink back home. When I get home I clean the grime off of the swords. I find a big, plastic birthday present bag. I lay them inside.

Several months later

I open my journal and start to write…

I just resigned from the army. It seems crazy, I even think I might be going mad. But, I want to do something bolder than being in the army. I want to do something that will change our nation.

I have some ideas:

Overthrow the tyrant

Protest–(not the best, might get murdered or tortured)

Harm the tyrant

Kill the tyrant–I could get tortured just for suggesting it but, he won’t see it coming. But, it is the best course of action–I have a plan!

That night….

“Come on!’’ I insist.

I am coming,” Ian whispers as loud as he dares.

We plan to assassinate the tyrant, Sir Gan. I have put Luxa in the nursery.  

“Can you take care of her?” I ask my sister Neon.

“Ok! I will!” she says enthusiastically. She picks Luxa up and tickles her belly.

I hug her then get in our shiny, grey jet. Ian pulls on the thrusters and we are speeding towards the South grid, where Sir Gan is waiting. The jet speeds along the jetway. I feel like time has slowed down. I see the particles of dust in the air. Ian, my husband, leans back in his red, padded chair. I hear the engine whirring and wheezing. Finally, we enter the South Grid. The sun is pounding down on the city. I look out of the jet’s window and I see grey, cracked buildings and people with depressed looks trudging through the sunbaked streets. We land silently in a jet lot.

We cautiously walk out of the jet and turn on our invisibility suits. We walk out into the street and head towards the biggest building on Mars, the high tyrant’s lair. We take out our blasters and hold them ready. Ian and I slink into the lair and walk up the clear, glass steps. We sneak in and see the high tyrant. He is asleep, his long hair hanging around his shoulders. A wine glass in his hand, filled with bright red liquid. Ian lunges at him and hits his neck. A long stream of bright red blood oozes from his pale neck. His eyes shoot open in surprise. Slowly, the light and hate leave his eyes. They are vacant. Ian turns around and kisses me. We did it! We sneak home and go to bed, dreaming of a better future. The next morning, I wake-up snuggled next to Ian. He is smiling in his sleep. I slide out of bed and go check on Neon and Luxa.

“Ma-ma’’ Luxa giggles.

“Hello,” I say cheerily to her.

I pick her up and face Neon. “Hey, neon! We cut the rotten stump,” I whisper.

“Oh, that is news indeed!” she cried.

My phone buzzes and I check it.

Hi, Sweetie! There are some people at the door. –IAN

OK, I’ll be right there! –ME

I hurry out of Luxa’s room to answer the doorbell.

At the door is a mob of pro-Gan activists. And they are pointing their rusty, silver guns right at my sweaty, pale face.

“How could you?” a woman shrieks.  

 

Perspective by Samantha Lin

If a giraffe were to look down on a human

It would think, “What a short creature this is.”

If an ant were to look up to a human

It would think, “What a tall creature this is.”

But if the human’s friend came up to them

They’d say, “I am just as tall as you, and you are just as tall as I

But if some other creature came up to you

It wouldn’t be the same

You’d be shorter, or taller, or larger, or smaller

Than them

It wouldn’t be the same.”

Perspective.

Wispling By Kathryn Fredy

Prologue – Brooksway, New York

The early morning sky was dark and cloudy, the same as it had been all night. Off in the distance, a storm was brewing. A bolt of lightning flashed across the sky, followed by a clap of thunder that would have been heard across the entire state. No one in the houses lining the streets of Brooksway heard it, though; they were all asleep. But deep in the clutches of the night, in one little house in the middle of the city, a light glowed brightly through the window.

Someone was awake.

~ { : } ~

Amara stared out the window onto the street below. She was thinking and waiting for someone to arrive. Someone she hadn’t seen in a long, long time.

Finally, she heard footsteps sounding on the steps up to her room. The door swung open, and a young woman stood in the open doorway.

“What are you doing up here, Mara?” The woman asked, calling Amara by her nickname, “You only come up here when you’re feeling bothered by something. What’s wrong?”

Amara sighed. “After thirty years, you’re still not acting well enough to fool me,” she answered, shaking her head, “Besides, this is not the time for practice.”

The woman sighed and began to change. Her hair shortened, and changed color, her face rounded, and she grew just the slightest bit bigger. Soon, a man that looked the same age as Mara was standing right where the young woman had been.

“You’re serious about this, then,” the man said, frowning sadly.

“I’ve always been serious about it,” Mara replied, turning around to face him, “They’ll need protection from the ones we weren’t able to stop. You know that, Caden.”

“But what if they find you?” Caden asked, worriedly, “What happens then? You can’t possibly hide from them for that long!”

“I can handle them,” Amara answered, comfortingly. “Time is always on my side. And I will use it as well as I can.”

“I don’t want you to go.”

“I have to, C,” Amara said, sadly. “But before I do, take this.” She held out a small, blue orb, tied to a golden thread, which shimmered in the lamplight. “It will tell you anything you want to know, as long as I am alive. And if you ever wish to contact me . . . well, I have the other end.” She held hers up.

“Then I guess this is goodbye?” Caden asked, even though he already knew the answer.

“You always were a good guesser,” Amara said, her eyes welling up with tears. She placed her hand on his shoulder. He hugged her tightly, and she hugged him back.

And the sun began to rise . . .

 

“Lost in the Barrio” by KJ Stiglitz

The taxis were driving out for the morning. Paulo could hear them honking and revving their engines as they tried to get out of the crowded lot. As they got closer, Paulo heard their various Spanish radio stations blaring as they turned onto 187th street. He forgot about combing his thick black hair and ran to the window to watch the taxis crawling through Washington Heights, Manhattan. The line was like a parade, loud, single file, and blocking the streets.

Mijo! Quit watching los taxis and get dressed para la escuela!”

“I am getting dressed mamá!” Paulo grabbed his shirt and continued watching.

“Paulo! Come get un batido para el desayuno! You’re going to be late for school!”

Paulo tore his eyes away from the window and thundered down the stairs, as his mother put a smoothie and a plate of steaming mallorca down. Puerto Rican with an American twist, the way he liked it. He ate with a vengeance while his mom did the dishes.

Buenos dias mijo! How did you sleep?”

Muy bien mamá. Also, Don’t forget, I’m helping Tony after school.” Almost every day after school, Paulo went to help his friend Tony at his auto body shop. He was fascinated with cars and looked up to Tony a lot.

Bueno mijo, but don’t stay past dark, and text me before you caminar a casa. That phone bill is steep enough, you better start using that téléfono for its intended purpose, to call your mamá,”

“I will, adios Mamá!” Paulo replied, cleaning off his plate.

Adios Paulo! Have fun with Tony! Send him mi encanta!” she yelled after him, but he was out the door.

He was walking to the Bodega when he heard his mom yelling from the fire escape to have a good day. He turned to wave but she was walking back inside.

 

La Vega Bodega was on the way to la escuela. Paulo stopped inside the little store. He said hi to Abuela Carla and Leona from the beauty parlor down the street.

“Paulo!” Abuela Carla said warmly, holding out her arms. “Get over here and give me un abrazo y un poco de amor!” Paulo ran over to her and temporarily hidden in the folds of her billowy yellow sundress. The flowey fabric was a bright yellow jungle, the fabric twisting like vines. He loved the way she smelled, like coffee and a little bit of spray paint.

“How can I help you? How’s tu madre? How’s Tony!” Abuela always asked a lot of questions. He responded that he was good. “Abuela, un café con leche por favor.” Abuela had amazing coffee. Paulo grabbed a few other things from the shelves and got out his dinero.

Abuela, un boleto de lotería por favor as well.” Paulo asked shyly.

Lotería? Mijo you are muy joven for that.” Abuela Carla looked at the sheepish Paulo, but as he was walking out she slipped a lottery ticket in his pocket with a hug. He glanced at it and stuffed it back in his pocket to see what the lucky numbers would be later.

 

The school day was blah. Most of his classes were spent flipping through car magazines from last year or zoning out into a window. When he got to lunch he realized that he left his mom’s Puerto Rican lunch in the refrigerator. He loved when his mom made Puerto Rican food because it taught him a little about her culture. His mom was Puerto Rican and his dad was Portuguese which was where his name came from, but he had never known his dad, he left when he was still a toddler and hadn’t heard from him since.

The metro was full of people when Paulo was on after school, but no passengers went farther than 96th street. In fact, by the time the train pulled into the 167th street station, Paulo was the only person left on board except for Carmello the grocer who was heading to 186th street, one block next to Paulo. As he got off, Paulo said a quick hello to Carmello and told him he would be back that afternoon to buy lemons for his mother’s new American dish she was trying.

When he got to the autobody, Tony, the tall, blond Italian immigrant, welcomed him warmly. First, they worked on a dirty 2004 Honda pickup with a busted up radiator. Second, they worked on a 2014 Toyota Prius that had a shot muffler. Last, a half hour before dark, Paulo took the metro home to the 187th street station and walked past Carmello’s Tienda de Comestibles.

On his way home he saw a lot of neighbors. First, he waved to Leona as she was locking up the salon and she told him that he needed to come in for a trim and was getting scruffy. He laughed and waved. After, he saw Tino and Luca from the Tattoo Parlor. After that, he chatted with Jeanette and Ray from 182nd street who were touring the neighborhood. Finally, he got to his house and exchanged a few words with Abuela who had closed the Bodega and was heading in as well. He headed in for the night too.

 

The next day was a photocopy of the day before, except for when he got home after working with Tony, Abuela was waiting for him at his house. His mom must have still been working at the Stop and Shop up on 194th street.

Buenos tardes Abuela! Do you need something?” Paulo asked as he set his bag down.

Mijo, I have some pretty big noticias. Creo que deberías sentarte para esto. I think you should sit down for this.”  Abuela Carla said was chagrine. Paulo sat. “Paulo, tu madre fue asesinada hoy en un accidente automovilístico, your mother was killed in a car crash today. Ella se ha ido, she is gone.” Abuela bowed her head. “I’m very sorry that I’m the one who had to tell you this mijo.” She rubbed his arm as he sat. His mom was gone. He couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe that something so beautiful and majestic as a car could end a life and do so much damage. Furthermore, he still couldn’t believe that she was gone.

Abuela, ¿Puedo estar solo? Can I be alone? This a pretty big loss.”

Por supuesto mijo. I understand.”

Abuela Carla left and Paulo went up to his room. The familiar cracking yellow paint was alien and not what he was used to. Were all of those cracks here before? He asked himself. His wooden bed frame looked like it was bent at a weird angle. An angle he wasn’t used to. He walked into his mother’s room. Her few possessions neat and orderly, the room as if he had never been before. The potted plant on the nightstand that he had made for her in 1st grade was an different shade of green than he thought. The plant with more flowers than he remembered it having. It was too painful being in this house. Too painful living on this block. Demasiado doloroso in Washington Heights. So he ran. He packed a few necessities and left, the bitter truth of his situation hitting him as he left the Barrio.

Past Abuela’s Bodega where he bought coffee every morning. Past Leona’s salon where he got his first haircut. Past Carmello’s grocery store where he bought groceries for his mom to cook Puerto Rican food every weekend. Past the half empty taxi lot. The streets went by as he ran. 187, 186, 185, 184, 183, 182, 181, he couldn’t get out of Washington Heights.

It was night when he got to 155th street. He crossed it and looked back. There was no going back now. The faded signs of Washington Heights flickered at him. Spanish behind, English forward. He found a bus bench and laid down, using his backpack for a pillow, he drifted off to sleep.

 

When Paulo woke up, he was on a bed, his backpack by the side. A boy was sitting on the bed next to him. He was staring at Paulo.

Paulo screamed, “¡Oh Dios mío! ¡Dónde estoy! ¡Quién eres tú! ¡Dónde está mi mamá! ¡Cuando Abuela se entere de esto, te va a pegar!

“Woah! Chillax dude. My name’s Travis, and I don’t speak no Spanish or whatever.” The boy said. He fluffed his covers and closed his eyes. “Besides, I been in this dump for a while, I can answer any questions you got. What’s your name? What’s your story?”

Paulo was shaking, “Me llamo Paulo y solía vivir en Washington Heights hasta que mataron a mi madre en un accidente automovilístico y me escapé. Salí del Barrio pero luego, cuando finalmente crucé la calle 155, me fui a dormir en un banco de la parada del autobús y ahora estoy aquí.” He explained.

Travis still looked very confused, “Uh, sorry dude, I’m from Harlem, so I don’t speak no Spanish or whatever, English please.”

Paulo sighed, “My name is Paulo and I used to live in Washington Heights until my mother was killed in a car accident and I escaped. I left the Barrio but when I crossed 155th Street, I went to sleep on a bench at the bus stop and boom, I’m in this place.”

“Yowza dude, that sucks big time, my condolences.”

Ai cara, I don’t know what to say, except for that I have no idea who you are. But okay!” Paulo agreed. “To let you know, I speak mucho español. Also, I’m tipo de triste right now so, I want to be alone. I don’t know who I am nunca mas.”

“Well, I have an idea. As your newly recruited best friend, I feel it is my duty to help you find yourself again. I propose a tour of Manhattan!” Travis exclaimed.

“Dude, tipo, you’re a huge bicho raro. Besides, where do we start?”

“I don’t know what a bicho raro is, but I’m assuming it means friend. And isn’t it obvious? We start one 1st street.”

“But I’ve never been past 96th street!”

“Dude, this foster home is on 60th street, LIVE A LITTLE!”

“Okay, when do we leave?”

“Tonight.”

 

Paulo and Travis snuck out that night. They went all the way to the bottom of Manhattan.They got off at the 1st Street Station. Travis asked some interesting questions…

“So in Washington Heights, does everyone live on the top floor?”

“No, that’s stupid.”

“Okay, fine, what’s the Spanish word for homey?”

Hogareño, that’s also stupid.”

Travis kept babbling on and on. He took them all over the Financial District and into Tribeca and the Lower East Side. They cut through China Town. Paulo found nothing, he had never been to Chinatown or any of these places before. This far away from the Barrio, he felt farther away from his mom, and himself.

They went to bed and when they woke up in the morning they took the train to the heart of Greenwich Village and skipped right to Chelsea. They went to Hell’s Kitchen and ran out quick to Midtown. Nothing reminded Paulo of his mom in Midtown, but he still thought it was fascinating, especially on Broadway.

After watching people go in to watch a show, Travis took Paulo to the Upper East Side and after, they went to see Central Park.

“Hey man, how you doin’? You seemin’ kinda glum.”

“Travis, one question, why do you act all gangster, but also use words like glum and get all excited about Broadway?”

“Okay, to tell you the truth,” Travis explained. “I am a straight A student with a GPA of 4.2. I’m not trying to brag, but I am incredibly smart.”

“That is definitely bragging,” Paulo pointed out. “What kind of mala excusa is that? But you have straight A’s? Travis that’s realmente genial!”

“Eh, whatever.”

They each got a hotdog from the food vender selling from a cart and settled down on the grass to sleep. When they woke up in the morning, they ran quick to the Upper East Side which was blah and finally crossed over to Harlem.

“Me and my mom used to live together in this house! But she left and I got stuck at that foster home too. Let me take you to my house! Come on!” Travis led Paulo down a few streets and took a few turns. They came to an old busted up green house with a half broken porch swing and a light filled with dead moths.

“This was tu casa?” Paulo asked.

“Yup,” Travis looked at it proudly. “It was mine,” Travis’ eyes turned to longing instead of pride and he took his hands out of his pockets and wiped his face. “Anyway, let’s go, I want to show you East Harlem and after that, I have a surprise.” Travis led Paulo to East Harlem, he still thought it was lame. Travis told him to come on and follow him.

Paulo noticed Travis leading him back south, “Uh, Travis, north is the other way?”

“We have to backtrack to make one more stop. I wanted to show you regular Harlem,” he stopped. “Before I show you,” grand gesture. “This!” There was a sign that read WELCOME TO SPANISH HARLEM. Paulo was in shock.

“What is Spanish Harlem? You know I’m Puerto Rican right?”

“Yes I know, but I still thought you should see this, get a feel you know?”

Paulo loved it. They were walking around, Paulo was chatting with people, it made him feel like he was walking down a street in the Barrio, waiting for his mom to get home from work. His face lit up like the sun on a cold day. Paulo got a text from his friend Yaco that lived next door. Abuela Carla was dead. Paulo’s heart was like a heavy rock. He sank into the ground and his tears were boulders, pounding heavily on the pavement as they came crashing down.

“Barney’s Life Story” by John Robertson

Once upon a time there was a very nice family. The Robinsons were the wealthiest family in their little mining town on the outskirts of Honolulu the capital of Hawaii. Barney was their only child. He had short black hair and bright green eyes like his father. He was only 5 years old when tragedy struck. His parents went on a trip from their little home on the island of Honolulu in Hawaii to California on a boat. But as they were half way, the ship hit a storm and they were washed up against a rock. They saw something in the bushes, and then it jumped and killed them with lightning fast claws. 7 years later, Barney was all alone and depressed, because his parents died he had to live with his aunt and uncle who then told him of the legend of the land hydra with long claws and eight heads that lives on an island in the middle of the sea near Hawaii. Barney realized that the Hydra must have killed his parents. He had not known why they left for 7 long years. He asked his uncle where he could find a boat. His uncle told him, “You can’t go out there. It’s too dangerous. What if you got killed by that hydra just like your parents?”

That was the first time in 7 years that they had mentioned Barney’s parents when he was in earshot. He ran away wailing in pain from thinking about them being gone forever he couldn’t take it. He started reading. The book was about a warrior who had seen a hydra and lived to tell the tale. Barney packed up his things, took a knife from his uncle’s collection, and started down the string of islands to the biggest island of Hawaii, the southernmost island closest to the hydra. He arrived to the harbor near Honolulu and found a nice sailboat, but just as he was about to rig the boat, a man came walking up the deck. “I have to hide,” he thought to himself.

The man was getting closer and closer. He started to speak with a shaky tone. “If anybody is on these boats, I’m warning you, I am armed with a gun, so just give yourself up.”

From his hiding spot on the boat, Barney threw a rock as far as he could. It flew through the sky in the direction of the research center where they were. The rock hit the chain link fence with a loud CLANG.

The guard immediately turned around and ran for the gate. Barney finished rigging the boat. He only had 2 minutes before the man would return. Luckily for him, the gate out to the ocean was open. He started to sail out of the gate, but the man was coming back. Barney looked around frantically trying to figure out a way to make it look like the boat hadn’t been touched. He managed to park it just as the man came back into view. The man turned back around and walked off the wharf. The gate was still open. He had a chance. He waited and waited for what felt like hours. Then right then and there, there was some wind. He untied the boat and started towards the gate. The man was in the window and he saw Barney on the boat, “I knew there was something in the harbor. I didn’t trust myself,” he thought.

In addition, he called through the loudspeaker, “All hands on deck someone or something is stealing one of our boats. Close the gate!”

The gate was starting to close. Barney was getting worried that he wouldn’t make it on time. The wind started to pick up. He was going faster at this point in time. The gate was going to close. There was just enough room to get through and he did just barely. Barney was on his way to find a new hope of getting revenge on the monster. He was sailing and sailing down the coast of the island all the way to the bottom of the islands. The problem was, he couldn’t steer very well, so it took him a while to get from place to place. After 4 days of travelling, he was almost out of food. He needed to stop, but just as he was about to give up, he saw the island of Hawaii, the largest thing he had ever seen. It was so beautiful. He had some money to pay for food and somewhere to park his boat that his aunt had given him. He went to the main port and asked if he could park his boat.

They said that he could, but it would cost more than all the money he had, so he went around the island. But there were no other ports. With the rope he tied the boat to the tree along the shore and after that put some leaves over it so that if anyone came around they wouldn’t see it. Then he went into town to find food and the adventurer that his uncle had told him about. He walked into a grocery store to buy some food and saw the wanderer that he was looking for. Barney walked over to meet the man.

“Excuse me, are you Bob Higginson, the legendary hydra slayer?” He asked in a polite tone of voice.

“That is me but, those days are over,” he told him.

“Please, you have to help me!” Barney pleaded.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” The man told him.

Barney sulked out of the grocery store with a lot of food and some water for the boat ride to the island. At that moment, he heard something behind him . . . the man crashed out of the grocery store and sprinted down the street after him, until he caught Barney and told him he would help.

But, it was under a one condition: only if he and Barney went to his house right away. They started towards Mr. Higginson’s house, but then Barney heard another crash from back at the grocery store. The clerk was chasing them down. Barney looked to his left. The man was carrying a bag of groceries, but he didn’t pay for them. They started to run faster. Barney could have stopped him, but he knew that if he did, then the man wouldn’t help him They reached a dark alley. They went in clambered over the wall and ran off into the night. It was around 5:30 a.m. when they reached the man’s house.

“I have lots of food water and weapons we can use,” he told Barney.

“Thank you for your help. It’s really meaningful to me that you would help a stranger,” Barney replied with a smile.

The two started to pack up for the long voyage back up the coast towards the hydra. Barney kept wondering how this random guy beat a hydra in a battle so he asked him and the man replied, “Well, I have a harpoon that has eight points, so I can hit every head on the hydra with a harpoon instead of just one.”

They started on their voyage towards the island. They spent 2 days and 3 nights on the boat. They were starting to give up, but as they were the island came into view, “We’re here” he told Barney with a shaky tone

They were still far enough away that they couldn’t completely see the entire island. They started heading closer as the wind picked up threw the waves. Barney was having second thoughts about coming on this trip, but he was glad that he had someone with him. They reached the shore. Barney didn’t know what to say. He was so worried, but so excited. The man told him that the ancient land hydra would be roaming the perimeter of the island looking for trespassers, or he would be at the summit of the mountain.

The two started the log trek up the mountain. When they reached the summit of the mountain they saw it sitting on an ancient wall with futuristic markings on it. It was sleeping, but as they approached, it woke with a start. It raised its long thin black neck to the sky and opened his eyes then it dashed at them with tremendous rage. Barney was petrified. As he was about to have the same fate as his parents, Bob pulled him aside. Behind cover, Barney was still shaking. The hydra looked around trying to find out where they went.

Barney snapped out of it. He had a plan. He was going to run around fast enough and long enough to both get the hydra’s attention and to not be killed by its enraged state of mind. He started running out from behind the cover. He went sprinting around the hydra. It didn’t know what to do, then Barney heard it. It was the loudest and ugliest hiss he had ever heard. The hydra knocked him to the ground, and it was about to rip him open when Bob shot the harpoon into the hydra’s heads.

It wheeled around flailing its arms trying to break free. But it couldn’t. Barney thanked Bob for helping him defeat the monster and get revenge for his parents’ death. Barney also vowed never to never go on a boat again. It had make him sick and tired. As the hydra fell to the ground, the trees danced in the wind.

Soon, he had said goodbye to Bob. He started the voyage home. All the way, he was thinking of his parents and how much he loved them and how sorry he was for leaving his aunt and uncle. Despite all of this, when he got home, his aunt and uncle embarrassed him in open arms and never thought anything of it.