Announcing the Teen Writing Contest Winners

Thank you to all the teens who submitted short stories to our writing contest! It was a great way to celebrate (and prepare for future participation in) November's NaNoWriMo.

What Is NaNoWriMo? National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel. For more information and to find tools and resources to help your writing journey, visit nanowrimo.org.

In addition to a gift card to Lake Forest Book Store, winners of the Library's Teen Writing Contest get their submissions posted on the Library website (see below). We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!

*Stories are published below exactly as they were submitted.

First Place Winners

The Galaxy Above

 

I make my way down the gorgeous marble halls of the palace. Tiny fractures of gold and silver glisten in the columns. Flowers, moss, and fungi climb up the walls and peek out through the floor. My white gown trails behind me, the glass decorations softly clicking and sending rainbow sparkles across the walls as the sun hits them. My whole life has been for the sole purpose of preparing for this moment. Every second of my living has been a frantic run, desperately trying to get everything ready for today. So why am I not nervous or scared? Why aren’t my hands shaking in fear? After all, as ancient legend states, when a princess is crowned queen she must undergo the traditional ceremony, which requires you to be killed, only to be revived once more. This will ensure the queen starts anew and will become immortal. Well immortal until someone directly kills me through the heart. Then I will turn to stone for the rest of eternity. I walk swiftly through the overgrown floors when I hear quiet arguing from behind a closed door.

“She shouldn’t be queen yet. She’s far too young, her mother wouldn’t want this.”

“She will be the death of this whole kingdom. We can’t afford that.”

“We can’t argue with the system. Her mother died, that's not our fault.”

“I’m telling you she will be the death of us.”

My curiosity getting the best of me, I peek through the small crack of the door. Three council women huddle around a polished stump of wood, sharpening blades. They all wear voluminous dresses, clearly designed to help disguise the weapons. My throat goes dry. I knew some people who were against the crowning of any queen, but it still makes me feel uneasy. I could still run and leave this all behind. No, I decide. I’m too far into this mess, running would be cowardly.

I hurry past the door as swiftly as possible, in fact, I am so desperate to get away that I stumble and almost trip and fall down the stairs. I manage to catch myself before my cloud-like dress could be damaged. My heart hammers in my chest, threatening to burst free. Any second now I will have to enter the ballroom and complete the ceremony, I can't be acting like this. I brush my dress and neaten out all the folds that had formed as I was running. Not a second later two of my personal guards come rushing up the stairs to escort me the rest of the way. The flowers and plants that are curled around the stairs seem to pulse and twitch, like they somehow know something is about to happen.

We arrive in front of a beautifully carved wooden door. It depicts hundreds of different myths and stories from ages long ago. The stories flow and blend together until you aren’t sure where one ends and another begins. One day my story will be carved somewhere. This day will be remembered as the rebirth of my kingdom.

The guards heave the door open, revealing the vast queens hall. My breath catches in my throat. Firefaeries swirl around the dome and perch on the vines, casting the faintest glow around the room. A small waterfall shrine trickles at the end of the room. Since the last time I saw it, flowers have spread over every inch of the stone, except for the small circle of moss where my crown rests.

As I make my way towards the waterfall, suddenly very aware of the hundreds of eyes watching me, a figure steps out from behind a pillar.

His curly midnight black hair is combed lazily to the side, a small circlet of gold leaves keeping it in place. He wears an elegant black cape and a loose blouse. Quite honestly it looks like he just woke up.

“Hello my queen, name is Merlin” he kneels slowly.

“Who are you? If you want to give me a gift you must wait until after the ceremony,” I fold my hands in front of me in an attempt to look harsh.

“Oh, but dear Corinth don’t you know? I’m sure they must have told you,” Merlin smiles slyly as he rises. Dread begins to settle in my stomach. Could this be what I think it is?

“I will not accept,” I snarl back.

“You must. There is no other way. This marriage would secure the safety of our kingdoms. Without it there would be war!”

“No, you do not understand. I cannot accept. My heart is already with someone else, and that someone is not you.” He stares at me, the swirling lights above catching in his empty obsidian eyes. Merlin almost seems hurt by my rejection. I ignore the flicker of pain on his face. Instead, I wave my representative over. They hesitate for a moment, but they seem to realize it's probably better to do what I requested, especially now. They approach the knife sitting below the crown, my heart fluttering and pounding in my chest like a group of dancers spinning on my heart. The cold metal is pressed against the small opening in the back of my dress, and I’m ready for anything. Time seems to slow down as the knife cuts in.

My mother helping me stand up for the first time. The grass brushing against my arms. Dancing across the ballroom in the dead of night with my girlfriend. The sun, the stars and the galaxy sparkle before my eyes but the next thing I know I’m sitting in the waterfall, a dull throb spreading through my back.

                  The water is tinted red and it's surprisingly cold. It feels like the cold itself is crawling through my body and wiggling through my veins. It wraps around my heart until finally it races to my brain and the rush of the past few minutes makes me gasp.

                  “Breathe my queen, you must relax,” the representative says. My heart is racing in my chest but somehow I feel no pain. I should be. After all, I just got stabbed in the back, but I only feel a soft tingle where the knife entered.

I rise on wobbly legs. My silk dress sticks to my body, my long wavy hair runs down my back. The glittering sea of eyes watch me intently, noting my every move. Most of them have known me since I was a small child running around the halls of the palace. They probably even knew my mother when she was a child. But they will not see my child. I will ensure that. 

                  The representative steps forward with the sparkling crown fashioned out of clear quartz and blooming twigs. I cannot wait. I cannot wait for the feeling of control and power. The sheer number of things I will be able to do…

                  “STOP!” The ballroom hall doors slam open, flooding the room with golden light. One of the women from the dressing room earlier stands in the light. A not so cleverly hidden sword peaks out from below her dress. I spin to face the trembling representative holding the crown.

                  “Do it. Do not listen to her,” I growl. Their eyes dart between the woman who began making her way towards me and my fuming figure. “I do not care if you are scared, you will be far more in danger if you do not do what I ask this instant,” I snap. The distance between us begins to close. I watch as her hands reach for the hilt of her sword. The representative moves the crown closer, the tug of the power from within it calling out to me like a siren.

                  “I now declare Corinth Blackrose, the daughter of Rarity Blackrose and Arthur Blackrose, the queen of the lands where the golden sun touches.” As the crown touches the top of my head the woman finally reaches me, sword raised. The branches of the ringlet twist around my hair and that little spark of light I inherited from my mother grows and grows filling my veins. It erupts from every cell in my body, the light spreading through the room. It disintegrates the sword which had been mere inches away from my abdomen.

My whole body feels new, every small ache and pain gone. I feel weightless, as if I will float away at any moment; but it gives me a purpose, a purpose that thrums along to the beat of my heart.

                  The crowd is muttering and pointing although half of them have already fled the scene. Merlin is still frozen in shock next to the pillar I left him, his hands raised in front of his face. My attacker stares at me with wide eyes, the hilt still gripped in her hands.

                  “I am now queen. You will listen to me and those who choose to disobey my orders will learn to pay,” my voice rings out across the room, “let these two be examples,” I twist my hands and bolts of white energy send them flying into the walls. They lay motionless where they hit the stone. “Now, everyone will leave. You will go to your homes, and spread the word that there will be no more disobedience in my kingdom and please encourage every lady and gentleman to come to the palace tomorrow morning to pay their respects.”I watch as the crowd desperately pushes and shoves against each other like a flock of birds.

Pathetic little peasants. I turn to my now trembling representative.

                  “Double the number of guards around the borders, and make sure no one leaves. Call a meeting with the rest of the board members and tell them their duties no longer apply. However, I don’t want anyone coming to me later complaining,” they scurry away, tripping over unseen rocks on the floor. The smile I have been holding in finally creeps onto my face. My plan is finally in motion. The whole kingdom under my control, the whole army under my control. The Northerners will finally pay for that one summer day when they killed my mother.

                  I walk down the carpet, watching as the plants curl in on themselves, turning the black of the night sky. That's when the all too familiar figure steps out from the shadows. Her delicate curls fall into her eyes, but I don’t pretend to not see the tears already forming in her eyes.

                  “Monday? What's wrong? Did someone hurt you?” I carefully cup her face in my palms.

                  “No, I- I’m fine,” Monday whispers, “I simply cannot imagine what my life will be like without you.” I don't have any time to react. I can’t even blink before the blade pierces my heart. The pain digs into my body, covering the flaming power beneath my skin. Her sobs echo through the empty hall and she sinks to the floor in despair. My whole body is frozen in shock. I was ready for anything and everything my whole life. But never, never did I think the only person I trust would be the person who ends my life.

                  Stone begins creeping up my legs, forcing me to stay still. Although, the shock of her betrayal did not allow me to move anyways.

                  “I am so sorry, my dear Corinth,” Monday sobs. That's when I realize: Those were the last words Mother said to me. I remember the one summer night when she held me for the last time all too well. It seems too much of a coincidence that the two people I love the most said the same words to me, the same night of the year. “I had to, you would have been the death of us all, and I can’t be the one responsible for that,” she stands to look into my eyes one last time. Her face is streaked with tears, her nose and eyes puffy and red. I can’t breathe, I can’t move, I can't say anything. Her fingers trace my face as the stone creeps up my neck.

“I’m so sorry, there was no other way, I will see you again. I promise I’ll see you again. We’ll be together once more. We’ll rest in the stars and the galaxy above. Far away, where no one can touch us. I love you, I always have,” she presses her forehead against mine as the stone finally creeps over my face.

 

 

The Mystical World Of Rift

 

Chapter One: The Entrance

YEAR 2021 AD, Morning-Ore Florida USA, Some 120 Miles From Orlando...

 

Recess. Recess is the worst for 6th grader Tommy Quickx. He had no friends so he would just wander around all the action at his middle school’s playground. Life is boring, Tommy thought. He did not have any friends to play with. He was always bored. It was a sunny Wednesday, and the grass gleamed like a shining emerald, in the light of the smiling sun. The sky was cloudless diamond, for all clouds had been obliterated, in the sweltering heat of the fiery sun. But no heat was to destroy our shining diamond sky.

            Tommy was small, and skinny. He had light brown hair that was combed neatly. He usually wore a polo with shorts on hot days like this. But today, he wore pants, because he was out of shorts and forgot to do his laundry.

            Recess was the last thing that happened for 6th graders in middle school, and soon school would be over. Tommy would get on the bus, shielded from the hundred degree heat that had been melting people down for the last thirty minutes or so. Thankfully Tommy had no homework that day. Homework always gave him trouble.

Suddenly the whistle to end school blew. Tommy grabbed his backpack from the wall and walked on the concrete to the bus. He went up the metal stairs and sat down, closest to the front, where not as much trouble would happen.

Tommy was the last off his bus. After twenty minutes Tommy got off the bus. He walked through the grass and stepped up to the front door.

Tommy’s house was not large, nor was it small. It was a medium sized house, with two stories. It was painted a light gray, with a bright yellow roof that contrasted the gray.

On the porch Tommy bent down and grabbed the keys from under the welcome mat. Tommy unlocked the door and walked inside. He locked the door once inside, and put the keys on the counter. Tommy popped off his shoes and walked upstairs to his room, grabbed a PS5 controller and turned on his council. He played video games for three hours, then he began to grow hungry.

Tommy went downstairs and microwaved some leftover pizza from two nights ago. He grabbed an apple, poured himself some chocolate milk, and grabbed a pack of Skittles from his pantry. Tommy ate his dinner and went upstairs to play video games for an hour longer. His mom would not be home until midnight. After an hour Tommy put himself to bed, not looking forward to the day ahead. He never had, never would.

The following day, Tommy got up earlier than got dressed. He got on the bus letting his mom sleep in and leaving a tiny white note on her bed, stating how he is going to school. Tommy walked off his gray porch and onto his black top driveway. The bus stop was only five minutes away. He walked on the neatly paved sidewalk along his neighborhood road, passing the houses and thick forest brush.

Finally Tommy arrived at the bus stop early, the bus would not be at his stop for another fifteen minutes, this gave Tommy the time to read. He was a very good reader, and he loved this skill. Reading took Tommy to a whole new world, as if he had gotten swept away into a new magical land.

The only issue with his ability and love for reading was it got him bullied at school. But don’t mind that two of his fellow bullies had left for vacation. It wasn't a coincidence it just so happened that the two bullies were the Treedom twins, Jake and Andrew. So of course they had both left for Colorado together. Not having those bullies is like having summer break early. The bullies bullied Tommy twenty four, seven. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Although that may not be true, they made fun of him whenever they could, once they even climbed in through his window just to punch Tommy in the nose and run away, for, solemnly, they were his neighbors. Luckily when that happened his mom was home and reported it to the police, so they never tried that again. Still when Tommy lies in bed at night he shivers, always wondering when they may try again, this time when his mom wasn’t home.

Tommy sat down along the wet grass, it had rained the night before. Tommy opens the book he was reading, The Hobbit, and begins reading about Bilbo’s adventures. After five to ten minutes others started to arrive. Thankfully the bullies were out of town so Tommy could continue his exciting book, instead of trying to hide in the woods behind him when he heard the pounding of feet of voices coming his direction. After another five minutes the bus arrived. He got on last, as always, and sat in the fifth row, as always. It was the daily bus procedure he followed every day in the morning, and afternoon. Although in the afternoon he tried to be first, for then the younger kids could beat him to his daily seat. He was on the bus reading for twenty minutes before he got to school. To him it felt like twenty seconds, for he was enveloped in his book.

The bus began to unload the children riding it. Tommy was out last, waiting for all the bigger kids, and other kids, to get off first. After another minute he got off the bus and headed inside the Morning-Ore Middle School, or MOMS for short. He went to his homeroom classroom of Mrs. Kellsin. He sat in the classroom for a short period of time then went on to his other six periods. In fifth period it was time for his math class with Mr. Geograph. Normally fifth period math was his least favorite period because, for a start, math was his worst subject, and for a second, normally Jake Treedom was there, but he had left for vacation. With that in mind Tommy was actually able to learn math. He went through sixth period and then onto seventh, recess and lunch.

He ate his lunch within the twenty minutes of given time, then just sat at his lunch table, the least populated one, waiting for the boring recess tourtre to come. What Tommy did not know, was how it would not be, what sixth grader Tommy Quickx had in mind.

Chapter Two: The Object

 

Tommy dropped his lunch box in his backpack, and moved his backpack against the wall. It was a nice, sunny, eighty degree weathered day in Morning-Ore Florida. Tommy went off to the benches by the field to watch the boys play football. It was quite entertaining actually, come to think of it, it was like watching an actual football game. And Tommy had a front row seat! He liked to admire how the other sixth graders made it. So well played.

After fifteen minutes or so, something glowing caught his eye. Slowly he walked onto the field hoping none of the football boys would catch him sneaking in. He approached the glowing floating object and examined it. I looked as if there was a gap in the air. Tommy checked behind it, the object did not stretch on forever and ever, as he was assuming. Tommy tried to make sense of what it was. After another five minute of looking at it Tommy came to the conclusion, thinking back to all the sci-fi books he’d ever read, that it was a tear between space and time, a Rift. Thinking back, he realized now all he needed to do was touch it. Normally if you touched it something life changing would happen, and in Tommy’s case, something life fixing.

Slowly he reached out for the object. He was about to touch it when…

“HEY PUNK, GET OFF THE FIELD!!!” It was Shawn Villedmires, his other bully, besides the Treedom twins. When Tommy did not immediately react, he was grabbed by the collar of his shirt and lifted off the ground. “I...said...GET OFF THE FIELD!!!” Screamed Shawn through gritted teeth. Soon after he was put down, or rather roughly dropped, he was pushed sideways and flung onto the bench bumping his head in the process. Then he lay unconscious.

Tommy was awoken at home in the hospital lying on the bed with an ice pack on his head.

“Tommy, are you alright,” came a soothing voice. “You suffered a minor concussion.” It was Tommy’s mom, Mrs. Quickx. Now the reason it was only his mom compared to his mom and dad, was because his dad was busy at a military base training new troops, and would not be home for another three months or so.

“Yes mom, I’m alright,” then right there and then the cause of the poor Tommy being concussed and flowing back to him in a stream of red hot boiling lava of anger. “What was his punishment,” Tommy said, refusing to say the name as if it were a forbidden word now.

“He…um...well...let's just say…he got a little concussed from football too…” his mom said, trying to make it sound as good as possible. In reality his or Shawn had broken a bone or two, on his leg. He had sprained his ankle after falling down from his own strength after pushing Tommy onto that horrible bench.

As he was beginning  to go to the doors that led into the school, to go to the nurse’s office, Mrs. Belgho, to get his ankle checked out. Unfortunately for him he was unconsciously carrying the football, as well as unconsciously walking toward the other team's endzone. As if anyone who watched football would know, that means a touchdown for his team. So in the end he was tackled and broke his leg in the process.

Now switching back to another reality where, as of now, what happened to Shawn is a secret. After Mrs. Quickx hesitated, all Tommy could say was,

“Really,” raising one eyebrow in the process.

“Well...no really he broke his leg and ankle,” came the honest response from Mrs. Quickx.

Serves him right,” Tommy muttered.

“What?” His mom said.

“Nothing,” said Tommy shrugging his rather cruel comment off.

The next day, Tommy was back at school and having a great, bully relieved day. When he arrived home all he did was head up to his room. But when he opened his room door he saw it. It was back. The rift had followed him.

He wanted to show his mom this object, he wanted to wait for his mom to get home, but he could not resist the temptation to touch it. He reached his arm out and slowly touched. Immediately he felt as if his area was being sucked into whatever was through this magical rift. He tried to pull himself back but it was no use. All he could do was let The Rift slowly consume his body, and bring him to whatever magical world lay behind. The last thing Tommy Quickx saw was his mom, home early, opening his bedroom door as he slowly fell into a new world. The world of The Rift.

 

Chapter 3: A new world, a new land, a new place.

 

The Growthadian, Arthur sprinted through the void, a powerful demon on his heels. He threw his pickaxe at the beast, with incredible accuracy. It hit the demon square in the stomach doing no damage at all. “That thing is indestructible, curse you Dread, how did it even get here?” the Growthadain asked himself, knowing that no one was there to hear his complaint.  Arthur could see the portal up ahead, standing around eight feet high. Black, ash-stained bones as the border and a wall of fire in the middle. Seeing this Arthur sprinted with all his power, he pushed himself to go faster and faster. Then he came an inch away from the portal and dived through the harmless portal, just as his black iron constructed pickaxe was caught easily in his hand.  

Arthur was a tall Growthadian, he was not very strong, nor was he out of shape. He relied more on leverage when in battles. He had dark brown hair and gray eyes. Filled with years of experience.

A Growthadian sprinted through the portal, shouting “WATER! WATER! GET THE WATER BUCKETS! SPRAY THE PORTAL! NOW! NOW!” It was Arthur, who was immediately recognized for his shining pickaxe, constructed of the finest metal in Growthadia, black iron. A split second after the shouting, the fiery portal was extinguished. The border of bones fell to the ground in an ear-piercing clatter, as they clanked onto the rocky dirt under them.

Arthur's face was as white as a sheet, smothered in the whitest paint ever seen. “Calm down Arthur,” his sister Alexa said. “What happened,”

“He...he...he...it...it,” that's all he said before falling over onto his back, face paralyzed with fear.

“Great darkness is upon us, I can feel it,” said Arthur’s brother Ben. “We must be wary. Or the green darkens.”

“Or the green darkens,” said all ten other Growthadians, repeating the Growthadian term, to keep fighting or be wary, in unison. 

 

        *                                                    *                                                          *

 

Black and a blue hologram in the middle. Some sort of floating screen. That's all Tommy Quickx saw after stepping out of The Rift. Tommy stepped up and touched the hologram. The Hologram opens in four tabs. The tabs said; Lufecaep, Inaji, Growthadia, Riftlend. Tommy tapped Lufecaep first. The names of fifteen people appeared, with descriptions of each. Then he clicked the Injai tab. This listed over twenty five different people. It was a little more straightforward. It included information such as class, and an element. He then clicked the Growthadia tab. It showed twelve names, and descriptions. Finally he clicked the Riftlend tab. There had to be well over a hundred on this tab! Tommy scanned through the names, jumping as he saw the name Tommy, then reading the last name and realizing it was a different Tommy. As he saw the last three names, at the very bottom of the list it read, Tommy Quickx. Short, skinny, blue eyes, brown hair. The description fits Tommy’s current state.

Tommy’s heart jolted as he saw the name, he looked frantically around, not knowing what he was looking for. Then he saw it. A door tited Riftlend. Hoping this was the way home, and having enough adventure for today, ran to the door, opened it and lept inside. Not looking before leaping, Tommy found himself falling endlessly through a white void, until finally going unconscious.

Tommy awoke to the sound of a faint buzzing. A hundred bees were above his head, or at least, that's what he felt like. He opened his eyes to see a floating motorcycle. He assumed it was a hoverbike. He looked up hoping to see someone on the hoverbike, who knew where and what in the world was happening. Unfortunately all he saw was… he did not know what to make of it. Tommy came to the conclusion that it was really a cyborg vampire type thing, which was standing right next to it's ride. All Tommy knew about it is that it was definitely hostile. For a split second after Tommy looked at it, he was thrown a yard or two away by it's terrifying claw. The creature growled at him as another one of it’s friends came up behind her, for it was a her rather than a he.

“Where is the location of the essence? Tell us or die,” the creature's male friend said. The fact that such a savage looking creature, he made of the two, could speak surprised Tommy.

“I...I...I don’t know what...what you’re talking about,” Tommy stammered.

The creature suddenly jolted forward, his attack told Tommy that this creature was not happy with his response. The creature was an inch away from Tommy's nose when he suddenly staggered back, screaming in pain as he held his chest. The other creature rushed to her friend's aid, as Tommy was yanked back by his shirt. Tommy tried to run away but was held by an iron grasp.

“Stay with me if you want to live, kid,” said a voice from behind him. “Don’t move until we get you to home base.”

Tommy did not know who this was. But suddenly he was shot off at a high speed. It seemed he was in another vehicle.

Tommy could not help himself to keep his head still, as he looked around at the new world he was in. As Tommy looked at the top of a nearby mountain he could see an obnoxiously large fortress looming behind it. All Tommy could do was stare at it, mouth hanging open in awe.

“That's base kid, get used to it,” said his captor, who was also his savoir, again.

The voice was a gruff voice as if the person or creature that held him on a...a....floating skateboard really, or rather, hoverboard. Anyways it was as if he sounded like he had a cough. Or rather had probably been here a while, or been through a lot of things that Tommy would never understand.

After a couple more minutes they arrived at the huge fortress, which was made from what looked to be stone.

“That fortress right there,” said the man. “Is constructed from the finest iron in The Rift, black iron, drop shipped straight from Growthadia, in our flight plane. Let's just say, we did not mine it, but we're still proud.” In which in the last sentence he was referring to stealing the black iron, and pulling off a highly challenging burglary.

We’re?” Tommy asked the man.

“Me and seven other kids,” came the gruff voice behind him. Now Tommy got a good glance at the man. He was tall, and strong, he had green eyes and was red headed. His hair came straight down to his eyebrows then swooped left. The man, or rather boy, looked to be around sixteen or seventeen.

The hoverboard came to a halt at the front of the fortress and some one came out.

“Arron! Hey! How many did you find?” Asked the kid.

“Two,” he answered. For the first time Tommy realized someone else had been on the hoverboard, uncousounus. Someone very familiar. Then Tommy recognized the kid. Shawn Villedmires.

Chapter 4: The Assault

 

The group included ten people, who called themselves The Survivors. Tommy, Shawn, Arron, The Treedom Twins, Andrew and Jake, which didn’t surprise Tommy since Shawn was here. Caleb, a strong blonde kid who looked to be about eighteen. Max, a skinny kid with black glasses and brown hair, nine years old. Kyle, a small kid with hazel eyes and hair the color of Arron’s, looked to be about fourteen.

The main goal of this... group, should Tommy call it. Was to rescue the new people in Riftlend, the world Tommy was in. The new people were called ‘newbies’. They also had a holographic table, this let them see the world of Riftlend, in one spot. This also helped them keep Riftlend in check. If the darkness got the best of Riftlend, the tabe would turn black, Tommy and his friends wanted it green, for good. If it was blue, then it was balanced. Right now the holotable was blue.

Tommy’s group had special weapons, called essence blasters. There were different types of essence blasters, or bodys. Tommy had a sniper body, Arron had a revolver body, Caleb had a rifle body, Jason had an assault rifle body. Max had an essence knife, Kyle had an essence machete. James had an essence saxe, Jake had an essence bow, and Andrew had an essence sword. All these weapons were meant for their users. It was what they were best with.

It was the morning that Tommy got his weapon when they saw it. A herd of cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. A flock of crows flew over the leafy canopies of the nearby jungle. “We have a raid!” yelled Max, drawing his essence knife. Max saw it before Tommy did. First it was rumbling, then there was shouting, and then a raid. That's when the table changed. Blue the first second, and black the next.

“G...Guys? This isn’t a raid. It’s an army.” That's what Tommy said before hearing the ear busting explosion.

The first second they were secure in the fortress, the next they were unsecure in ruins. Ruins. That is what the explosion had made of the black iron fortress. The approaching army laughed at the destruction. Tommy ran to a nearby tree, and slung his blaster across his back. Tommy climbed the tree with great ease.

He was used to this type of thing. The brown tree bark felt rough and put invisible splinters in Tommy's hands. Once he got to the top Tommy unslung his blaster and looked through the scope.

He estimated that there were maybe three hundred men attacking the fortress, or… ruins. This was no raid, it was a massed attack. They carried all different kinds of weapons. Spears, bow blasters, knives, claws, you name it.

Tommy decided that this was valuable information, so he took three shots and ducked for cover behind the leaves, not knowing that his shots were all perfectly aimed, the men he hit were not lucky. Not lucky at all. Tommy reached into his pocket for his walkie talkie he was given along with his weapon.

Tommy speaking. I am up in a tree, spying on enemy forces. I estimate that they have just over three hundred men, all different weapons. Over.”

Of course, his friends already knew he was up in that tree because they had seen three men drop dead, in a split second, only a master with their chosen blaster body could have done that. And the only blaster body that could shoot from far away places was the sniper body, which was Tommy's blaster.They could see the different weapons too.

 What they didn’t know was how large the enemy they would be facing was, and this news that they would be facing an army with over three hundred men sent chills up The Surviviors’s spines.

Arron reached for his walkie talkie, “Arron speaking, we can’t handle over three hundred men it’s impossible, we only have ten kids. The odds are thirty to one! Over.”

“Caleb speaking, first of all, yes we should retreat, second of all where would we retreat? Over.”

“Kyle speaking, we’ll go to Growthadia, I used to be a Growthadian so I have access to the dimension. Over.

“Shawn speaking, I agree Growthadia will be our best bet. Tommy, come over to the ruins, we’re retreating to Growthadia. Over.”

“Tommy speaking, what’s Growthadia?

“Caleb speaking, another dimension in this Rift, filled with nature. Over.”

“Tommy speaking, be right over, cover me. Over.”

The Survivors all pulled out their weapons. People with ranged weapons in the back, people with melee weapons in the front. The ready stance of the kids gave the approaching enemy a sense that these kids were not afraid, the enemy took a moment of hesitation, and that's when Tommy bolted. He jumped off the tree, shot his blaster onto the ground, flew a yard or so and ran to his friends' defences. Tommy’s friends didn’t even need to shoot or swing their weapons once.

“And cue Kyle,” Andrew says. Kyle pulls out a locket from his pocket, a shiny green, tree shaped emerald is in the middle of the locket. Gold border surrounds it. Kyle pulls out another one of these lockets. He moves his hand in the motion, ‘Doctor Strange’ does when he makes one of those reality portals. The portal is created. It looks like The Rift Tommy entered, except it was tree shaped, and green. Tommy looks back at the approaching enemy.

“THEY ARE ALMOST UPON US!” Tommy yells, warning the others.

“GO! GO! GO!” Kyle yells. Everyone goes through the portal. Kyle is the last person through because he must close the portal. Kyle holds the lockets in his hands, ready to do the motion. He leans backward as if he is doing a trust fall. A spear flys over his head, near miss. Kyle quickly closes the portal and falls through the portal to Growthadia right before it closes.

Jake lies on the ground, a spear in his right leg.

“Jake!” Kyle exclaims. “What happened?”

“T...th...sp..spe.” Jake goes unconscious.

            “JAKE! JAKE! WAKE UP! PLEASE!” Andrew yells to his brother as he kneels down beside him. “We need medicine, his leg is bleeding and if it gets infected well...”

“I’ll get some,” says Shawn.

“I’ll go with him, I’m Growthdian, they will feel safer if I am there too.”

“You mean they may shoot him?” Arron asks.

“With bows,” Kyle says.

“THAN GO HELP HIM!” All the boys yell.

            “Ok...ok…”

“GO!”

Kyle ran to catch up to Shawn. A small path led up a hill to a sort of village.

“SHAWN!” Kyle yelled to him. Shawn turned around. The grass in Growthadia was wet and muddy, it must have rained recently, Kyle assumed. The trees had bright green leaves and a perfect brown color as the trunk. The soil under it was visibly rich. The Growthadian farmers had done a good job with the land.

“What?” Shawn asked.

“Wait. They may shoot you if they think you’re an intruder, they won't if I come with you,” Kyle responds. Shawn waited for Kyle to catch up. Soon they came to the Growthadian village. The town was deserted, except for one man.

“Arthur! Where is everyone?” Kyle asked the man.

“Kyle! I’m sorry, we couldn’t prevent it. I am the only immune Growthadian, beauce I hurt him. The others are not.” Arthur said grimmly. The man’s name was Arthur. Shawn realized.

“Immune to what? What happened!” The fear on Kyle’s face was visible now, he knew what had happened. He just didn’t want to be the one to say it.

“I’m so sorry Kyle, The Under Virus has started, and ended.”

 

Chapter 5: Out Of The Darkened Well.

 

“You let them get away?” The Dark Lord said, When The Stone Warrior returned empty handed in the void. The Stone Warrior was a skeleton soldier, made entirely of stone, and yet it lived, walking around. The warrior had a weapon that would turn it’s victim to stone. Inanimate stone.   

The Dark Lord was obviously not happy. It was cold in the void, and everything was black, black ground, black hills. Nothing else. A realm for the banished, and those who will serve them. Once entered, you can go forth between the two dimensions, if the conditions are right.

“I’m sorry, Darkness, my lord, they were too quick,” The Stone Warrior said.

“You said that you would make the world darker than it has ever been. You said you would save me from the coming light. Light is the only thing stopping me from coming up. My power grows, yet shrinks. I AM DARKNESS, my name is Darkness, that is what The King has done. He cut our souls. Filled it with power. We are the generations of darkness, Stone, I am darkness, I am the strongest weapon that The King has. And you must save me, because I can’t. I am stuck in this Darkened Well, waiting for someone to knock the Riftlend off balance.” Darkness explained. “It is your job to send Riftlend off balance, not mine.”

“B-B-But si-” The Stone Warrior was cut off.

“SILENCE!” 

“Darkness!”

“Dark Lord!

“Yes yes at once, sorry Dark Lord. Now, they Riftlenders had this, holographic table. I had read in books about it, I-I don’t know how they got it but, if it turned black, the darkness was getting the best of Riftlend.”

“What does this have to do with what we are talking about?”

“Well-well-it-it turned black.”

“So what you are saying is…?”

“I-I- I think you can enter Riftlend.” There was a flash of red and Darkness was gone.

Darkness teleported somewhere far from where he wanted to be. Although Darkness was happy to be out of the Void, all these bright colors disgusted him. He absolutely hated the piercing cold of the Void, yet he loved the colors, or should I say color. All that he would add to the colorless landscape was the color black. Darkness loved black, because, well, it was obvious, black was dark, and Darkness was The Dark Lord.

I know what I can do to get rid of these bright colors...thought Darkness sinisterly. With that he sent millions of skinny strands of red and black lightning from the tips of his fingers. Every single thing that his lightning bolts touched turned either a solid red, or black.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha!” Darkness cackled. He walked around the plain looking for The Stone Warrior’s army. Wherever he saw color, he would just send off a traill of his red lightning to greet it.

As day came Darkness could do nothing about the sunrise, and as night came, Darkness could do nothing about the sunset. After thirty two hours of traveling, Darkness came to a very large cave, he teleported himself down to the Void once again to talk to The Stone Warrior.

Darkness’ face nearly froze when he arrived in the void. The cold was obnoxious, and unbearable. The Stone Warrior was not there, so Darkness summoned him.

“Y-y-yes my Dark Lord?” The Stone Warrior asked when he arrived.

“I have found a very large cave for your army. Meet me there by sunset tomorrow. It is off the coast of the Western Sea, you know which sea that is, correct?”

“Yes, but how are we supposed to know which cave it is? There are many large caves by the Western Sea, fit for a Kraken.”

“Yes, that is true I suppose, but this cave, this cave is fit for ten Krakens! Now off with you I expect to see you at my cave before sunset.”

“But, my lord, the cave could be home to a family of Krakens! Considering the size of it.”

“Yes, yes, but you have forgotten one thing. I am Darkness, Krakens fear me, killing a Kraken is like taking a piece of paper and making the smallest rip in it. That sounds easy right?”

“Yes but, what if it is a family of Krakens?”

“No big deal, then it’s like ripping a piece of paper in half, rather than a small rip.” So, content, The Stone Warrior teleported back to his army.

 

Chapter 6: Planning

 

“So, you are telling me, your holotable turned black.” Arthur said, it was more of a statement than a question.

“Yes, Arthur, they came and it turned black.” Kyle confirmed. They were sitting in Arthur’s house, around a large, round table. Thinking of their next move. 

“We need to find out where they are going next, defeat them, and restore the light to Riftlend. And we need your help.” Jake said. The spear had been removed from Jake with minor bleeding. It wasn't too hard.

Arthur sighed at his companion’s lack of strategy, and told him the information he was looking for, “There is a large cave off the East Coast of the Western Sea, a rather strategic place to camp, if you ask me. I’m guessing that’s where they're heading. It’s perfect. If they are there, we will need to watch out for sentries, sentries will be placed in every nook and cranny, no doubt. They will have watchers in the water, and people watching the camp from inside one or two of the tents, assuming they use tents. Tents are even useful in caves. They won’t get wet from rain, but it protects you from rocks. Chances are in order to get into their camp, you will have to attack from above, as in the sky.

Tommy shifted uncomfortably in his seat, he has had a fear of flying since he was three. Tommy shuddered as he remembered that horrible day where the big white plane came crashing into the water. He was watching from a distance. On the shore of California.

“We-we-we aren't taking a plane, are we?” Tommy asked.

“It depends, we don’t have too much metal for one. I don’t know what you have but we barely have enough metal to build a small speed boat,” Arthur explains.

“I have some metal,” Max says.

“Since when have you been saving up metal?” Jason asks sarcastically.

“Since 1807,” he replied grinning.

“So….214 years?” James asks.

“It's possible,” Andrew adds, “You don't' age in any world in The Rift.”

“I mean, I’ve been here since, like, I don’t know, I know my dad fought in The American Revolution, I was there when George Washington became president, so maybe a year or two after that, so...1791? And I haven’t aged a bit in these 230 years.” Arthur says. “It’s true, you can look it up in the old newspapers, assuming they still keep those. I bet you that the heading on the front cover reads; ``FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY PRESUMED DEAD’ ’ .”

Max shrugs, looking out the window. The world is so nice here...Max thinks I wish where I came from looked this beautiful.

“It doesn’t matter, all that matters is that Max has a ton of metal,” James says. “Right Max?”

“Well maybe not a ton…” Max says.

“Ugh...are there people here who are actually smart? Get a scale FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!” Jason shouts

“Alright, alright, Arthur where do you keep the scales?” Kyle asks.

“In the back of to the----”

“Got one!” Arron shouts as he comes through the wooden doorway, Tommy hears his feet hit the creaky ground. He places the scale on the round wooden table. “Geez, this seems like the only thing metal, and not wood in this place.”

“Did you see the metal shelves?” Arthur asks.

“Meh, you have a point,” Arron says. “Whatever, it doesn’t matter.”

“Just put the scale down so Max can measure his metal supply!” Caleb says.

“Um...guys? Do you realize that my metal was in the Fortress, the Fortress which now ruins?

“Then whyy did you bring it up in the first place!?” Tommy asks.

“I don’t know? Maybe it’s because it would remind you, THERE IS A MINING FACILITY RIGHT BY US!?” Max says.

“Well...there you have it folks, we’re going mining,” Kyle says jokingly.

“We can get some black iron for the, flying whatever we are going to do, we have a ton of pickaxes in the back,” Arthur says. The boys walk to the back, there are metal shelves everywhere, pickaxes, and weapons, and shovels, and axes, are stored everywhere! The floor felt cold under Tommy’s socks. Socks? That’s when Tommy realized that he entered The Rift with no shoes!

“Um...do you guys have boots or armor of any kind? I entered The Rift With no shoes…” Tommy says.  The Survivors laugh.

“I have some further back,” Arthur says, still trying to hold back laughter. They walk further back into the storage facility, the boys hear a voice from farther back than they already were.

“Arthur? Is that you?” The voice asked.

“Yes Alexa,” Arthur responded. They hear crying, or very very sad sobbing rather.

“Alexa, I-I-I’m so sorry,” Arthur says, “But on the bright side, Kyle’s back!” That stopped some of it.

A minute later, Arthur comes out of a room to the left of Tommy. “She says she’ll fight. That makes twelve of us. We’ll leave tonight about an hour before midnight. The forces should have just arrived.” He says.

“Do you have clocks here?” Tommy asks.

“That’s our next project, we’re half way done,” Alexa responds. “Let's get you amateurs some armor.”

“Amateurs? We’re the amateurs here? You’ve never left your village!” Arron says.

“Ignore her,” Arthur says. “She’s seven, not thirteen. Here, take these, and this, and that.” Arthur grabbed a set of black iron armor, swords, and a pickaxe for each person. He gave one set to each person including himself.

“Arthur? Don’t we already have weapons?” Kyle asked.

“Trust me, these are much, much better,” Arthur says. “Now, does anyone want an axe instead of a sword?” He asked. Tommy had taken axe throwing class before, not fencing. This meant he was far more experienced with an axe, and not a sword.

“I will!” Tommy said. Arthur takes his sword, and hands him an axe.

“Put your weapon in the gold case on your back,” Arthur commands. “We're going mining.”

 

Off The East Coast Of The Western Sea

 

The Stone Warrior arrived late at night. Darkness was already waiting in his cave. “You’re late,” Darkness spat bitterly. “You were supposed to arrive over an hour earlier, we’re vulnerable here you know.”

“S-sorry Dark Lord, we will set up sentries immediately. Did you find the final stone?” The Stone Warrior asked.

“Yes, it was in the Kraken's eye, this cave was fit for a king as I said. The reason we are more vulnerable than ever is because it was a king, the king of the Krakens.

“Okay then, the sentries will be set up now. Swordsman! Ground position, dig yourself a hole and jump in! Hotshot! On top of the cave, gray camo! Bulltosser, in that cluster of bushes by the cave. Snakeeeye!(Snake-eye) Watch the water!” Darkness listened as his dark apprentice called out orders to his forces. He has learned a lot, just 70 more years...70 more years. Darkness thinks.

“Now, the stone?”

“Ah yes, here it is, I’ve already set up targets for you to practice on.” Darkness tells his apprentice.  An hour later they were going to need it.

 

Chapter 7: A Battle Worth Fighting

 

When it comes to mining, there is no reason to explain in full detail what happened. So, in short, they got enough metal to get a jump plane. Although Tommy was nervous and although it may be loud, they overcame the challenges. Parachutes would not be needed, the plan was simple: take out sentries on top of the cave, land on top of the cave, and take out the force. Although there weren’t a lot of battles leading up to the battle, it doesn't matter, the kids had the element of surprise that way. They were not expected to attack at all.

Tommy watched as the plane inched closer and closer to the cave. “There is one sentry,” Tommy whispered.

“No problem, I got him,” Alexa said. The green floor under Tommy swayed as Arthur, the pilot, got in place for a shot for Alexa. As Tommy had recently learned, Alexa was an expert bowman, or rather bowgirl. Alexa nocked an arrow and got her aiming precise. Loosening her grip, she rapidly pulled back and launched an arrow. It hit the sentry, who was annihilated with no screams, just as the Under Virus had to so many other Growthadians.

Thankfully Arthur was immune to this sickness and tended to the others. He kept Alexa home, so she didn’t get it, like the others already had, and told her ‘When I return, we will be the only Growthadains left, until more touch The Rift Tree.’ That is why Alexa cried when Arthur told her he was home.

The plane landed smoothly, Alexa nocked another arrow and fired at a sentry in the bushes, they fell on the ground, probably not getting back up.. “Alright when I give the word, we shout as loud as we can and destroy as many of the enemy as we can, target the leader or leaders, kill anyone in your way. Questions?” Arthur says.

“How will we know who the leaders are?” Shawn asked.

“Trust me, you'll know ‘em when you see ‘em,” Arthur answers.

“The Stone Warrior! Come here! This is the Krakens favorite time of night, this is when they will at--” The voice from inside the cave was cut off by Arthur.

NOW!!!!! Arthur yelled. All the others screamed at the top of their lungs too. This took the enemy by surprise. Tommy leapt from his position as Alexa fired arrow after arrow from above. Tommy carved with his axe through the defending forces, happy he chose to get a new weapon. Tommy slayed body after body swinging his axe like mad.

After attacking around five men Tommy picked out the leaders, one a skeleton with three gemstones of his knuckles, holding a sword of stone, the other looks like a man made of shadows, his red eyes gleaming like a newly shined ruby. Tommy had found his targets and no one was going to stop him from getting to them and bringing the light back to Rift. Adrenaline filled Tommy’s blood stream and he berserked. He sprinted with all his might, until he finally reached the leaders. The shadow man disappeared leaving only the skeleton. “It’s over boney,” Tommy says.

“That's what you think, fool!” The skeleton man swung his sword at Tommy. Tommy ducked and the monster ended up hitting one of his own men. The man he hit was an unlucky one indeed, for the moment the sword touched him he turned to stone. Tommy turned and looked parylized with fear. “That's why they call me The Stone Warrior, and not ‘boney’.”

Tommy knew he had to move so he tumbled left, stood up and attacked, swinging his axe in complex patterns that he had never learned or done before. It was as if he had a sixth sense for this kind of stuff. Tommy landed two hits on the bony beast, more generally known as The Stone Warrior. Knowing this, The Stone Warrior blasted a fiery blast from his red gemstone. Tommy leapt out of the way, only to be aced by a wall of green vines, the spikes as sharp as needles. Having nowhere to go Tommy froze. That’s when The Stone Warrior shot a dark purple from the third gemstone.

“Now you will become one of us, evil and skeletal! Muahahahaha!” The Stone Warrior laughed. Tommy dodged out of the way, infuriating his enemy.

“Next time, don’t tell me what your play toys do.” Tommy says as he swipes at the warrior, who had let his guard down. He scored hit after hit after hit, on the skeleton, his axe scraping the bones. This made a horrible noise that made Tommy cringe, like nails on a chalkboard, except ten times more irritating.

 But Tommy ignored it and kept on slicing. Eventually The Stone Warrior brought his sword up in a parry, stunning Tommy. The sword of stone whizzed by his ear as Tommy dodged last second. A near miss no near that it wasn’t even near, it was far, far, far, beyond near. So near that The Stone Warrior thought he had hit his enemy and let his guard down once again, resulting in a hard hit to the shoulder.

“ARRRRGGGGHHHH!” The Stone Warrior screamed in frustration and swung his sword even harder, trading strength for accuracy, so inaccurate that at one point Tommy didn’t even have to dodge, he would just swing and, swing and, swing at The Stone Warrior's stomach.

This made The Stone Warrior even angrier, so angry that it looked as if he would explode into a million pieces. Remember your teaching, fool! A voice yelled through The Stone Warriors mind. This made him step up his game, pulling flips, and spins, and hurdles around and over, Tommy.

The longer and longer The Stone Warrior and Tommy dueled, the smaller and smaller the dark forces became. So small that over a long period of time, there were only five men with the dark left. Five men, excluding The Stone Warrior and Darkness. Darkness because he had fled to the void, and The Stone Warrior because, well his story is a bit longer.

After many blasts of energy that nearly missed Tommy, he became aware that the energy came from his enemy knuckles, so targeting the knuckles would mean no more ranged attacks. So Tommy targeted The Stone Warriors knuckles and broke off gem after gem, until he had no more left. Making The Stone Warrior more frustrated than ever he tried to do even more stunts over Tommy’s head.

 That was his first and only mistake.

When The Stone Warrior leapt into the air, Tommy managed to swing his axe and knocked him out of the air. The Stone Warrior fell to the ground and quickly got up, ready to attack again. But Tommy was ready too, and was prepared to do the one thing (besides reading)that he enjoyed, loved, had a lot of practice with, and was good at:axe throwing. With that thought in his mind, Tommy Quickx threw his axe right at The Stone Warrior.

Tommy watched as the axe flew through the air, it was as if it happened in slow motion, but at the speed of light at the same time. The axe spun in circles, a perfect side throw, which was what Tommy wanted, that was slow. Yet the fast part felt as if one moment the axe was in Tommy's hand the next it was hitting The Stone Warrior square in the stomach. Tommy heard the crack of bones as The Stone Warrior fell to the ground once again, except this time, this time, this time The Stone Warrior did not get back up. This was the moment that Tommy Quickx became a legend, and known as the one who brought back the light, and saved the green from darkening, in Growthadain terms.

 

Chapter 8: Heroes

 

“TOMMY! You did it! You saved Riftlend!” Shawn shouted as he ran through the sandy ground towards Tommy. “You really did it!” Tommy took a small bow to humor how everyone was treating him now.

“Nice job buddy boy,” said Arron patting him on the back.

As they walk back to the dark green plane, Andrew says something to Tommy.

“Hey Tommy?” Andrew asked.

“Yeah?” Tommy responds.

“I’ve been needing to say something to you, Shawn and Jake made me the one to say it for them too.”

“Yes?”

            “We’re sorry. We’re sorry we buillied you all those years. Can we be-friends?”

“Yes. Yes we can.” and saying that felt even better.

 

Epilogue

 

Tommy was not able to go back to his dimension yet. That volume is for another day. Tommy and his new found friends, re-build the base, this time out of something more durable. An ancient essence. But this too, is for another day. But for today. Tommy had one last warning.

Darkness watches through the dimension window in the void as an axe eliminates his dark apprentice god. “Must I do everything myself?” He asked. “I’ll have to gain more dark essence to bring him back. I’ll get my vengeance, eventually. I'll have to release more dark forces to find some. Now mark my word Tommy Quickx, MARK MY WORD! I will get my vengeance whether you like it or not.”

Now down by the sandy beaches at the battle scene Tommy thought he could hear something, at the back of his head telling him. Telling him that he’ll get his vengeance, whether he liked it or not.

 

Runners Up

Name: Teagan Stark

Grade: 5th

School: Deer Path Middle School

Title: The Path

One foggy fall night, the wind was blowing, the leaves were out of control. Ruby

and I were rollerblading at the park till 9:30pm. It was dark, but there was light

reflecting off the fog.

We were sitting at the swings when we saw a man under the streetlight in the

parking lot just standing there. He started walking through the fog toward us.

When we got off the swings, he started running after us.

We rollerbladed as fast as we could, but lost our sense of direction and didn’t

know where we were. We saw a path that we’d never seen before, but we went

in that direction anyway. We had no choice. There was a dead end.

We turned around and saw the man again. He was tall and wore a mask. The

mask had bones on it sticking up from the top like little horns. He grabbed us and

everything went black.

When we woke up, we were in an empty room. We looked around to see if there

was an escape. I saw a small door. “Look,” I whispered to Ruby. “We can escape

through there.”

We went through the door. It led to a long hallway with two doors at the end.

We heard a voice coming from a speaker. It startled us. “Choose wisely - one

door you can go through and one you can’t.”

“What door do we choose?” I asked in a panic.

“Each door is a path with challenges you have to face,” the speaker told us.

“I think we should choose the left door,” said Ruby.

As we opened the door, it creaked. Right in front of us was another path. “You

must stay on the path. If you walk off the path, you will restart,” demanded the

guy on the speaker.

Ruby and I walked on the path. “Look, there’s a light! That must be the end!” I

yelled.

We both ran. As we were getting closer, we realized there were two doors. “Pick

a door,” the voice demanded again.

“We should open the door on the right this time,” I said to Ruby.

Ruby opened the door. We looked in and we couldn't see anything. It was pitch

black. We started walking anyway. We heard a loud noise and started

running. We got to the end of the hallway and found there were now three

doors. “The challenges will start now,” the guy on the speaker told us.

We started walking on the path and saw a river. “We need to find a way to get

over it. Maybe we can make something,” I suggested.

We found a bunch of wood. We put the wood together and built a little raft that

would help us get across. We came to another challenge. There were trees

covering our path. “We have 3 options,” I suggested. “We could go around the

trees, move them or crawl over them.” The door was just beyond the trees. I

could see it. We were so close. We decided to crawl over the trees and opened

the door. This time there was only one. “I really hope this is the last door.” I said

in exhaustion.

The room looked like the room at the start, but it was a little different. There was

a window. It was just too high and I could barely touch it. “Ruby, give me that

stool. I think we are supposed to escape this room!” I said hopefully. I stood on

the stool so I could reach the window. I pulled myself up so I could sit on the

ledge. “Can you hand me the stool?” I asked Ruby.

I grabbed the stool and threw it at the window. I covered my head so it didn’t get

cut with all of the glass. I grabbed Ruby’s hands and pulled her up. I crawled out

and then Ruby crawled out. We looked around and saw nothing but trees. The

man appeared out of nowhere. We let out a scream. “You really thought you

escaped?” the man laughed. “You have to complete the maze before you can

leave,” he told us. “I will be watching you!” the man said with a smile.

Then he disappeared again. It was pitch black. I think we were outside because I

could hear the wind howling and the leaves rustling. I looked down to find myself

standing in a leaf pile that was up to my knees. I reached my hand out and I felt

crumbling leaves and prickly branches. I saw a light flicker out of the corner of my

eye. I looked around for Ruby, but I couldn’t see her anywhere. “Ruby! Where are

you?” I yelled.

“I’m in a room surrounded by branches!” Ruby yelled back. Suddenly I heard

Ruby scream.

“Are you ok?” I asked.

“Yeah, I just tripped on something.” I heard Ruby digging through leaves. I heard a

pop and gears unwinding . “I did it! We escaped!” Ruby said with excitement as

she was walking out of the room. “Wait, where are you?” asked Ruby.

“I’m still in the room, I need help!” I yelled to Ruby.

“Wait, how do you have a glass room?” asked Ruby.

“What? What are you talking about? How do I get out of here?” I asked. Ruby

told me to look in the corner for a leaf pile. She said there should be only one pile

in the corner. I found it quickly and started to dig through it. I felt something like

a branch. Ruby told me to pull the branch and I will escape. I pulled it to the side

and I heard a familiar “pop” and gears unwinding. I ran out as the door was

opening.

“We did it!” Ruby and I laughed.

We ran outside. The cold wind never felt so good. Suddenly the man came out of

nowhere. “Bye, see you soon,” the man chuckled.

I blinked and I was home. What happened? I thought to myself. Was it a dream

or did it actually happen? I went inside. “I’m home!” I yelled.

“Ok!” my sister yelled back. I checked the time on the clock. 9:30pm. How? We

were gone for three hours. I am going to sleep, tonight was chaotic.

I ran upstairs to my room. I went to the window to shut the blinds. I looked out

the window. There he was standing at the end of my driveway under the

flickering street light. Is that what he meant when he said “see you soon”? I

blinked and he was gone. I went to bed.

The next morning everything was fine. I feel like everything is fading away, but

only the memories of that guy.

THE END… for now…

The Dinosaur

    

   “Are you there, Cal?” my mom asked.

         I groaned as I got out of bed. I wished that I never had to wake up. “Yes mom, I’ll be right there.” I pulled some shorts on and put on one of my dad's old tee shirts. The sun shined through my window and I pushed sleep out of my eyes. My family lives in a small house near the elementary school. I made my way over to the kitchen and sat down next to my brother. His seat creaked when he leaned over in it.

         “Hey mom, can I have money for gas?” he asked. I slowly chewed on my toast waiting for someone to say something interesting.

         “Jacob, you need to make your own money. I can’t just give you money every time your car runs out of gas. You can either get rid of it or work for the gas, your father and I need that money,” she replied from the kitchen. My family didn’t have much money. My mom didn’t have a job then and my dad wasn’t paid much so we’re running out. After finishing my toast, I left to go get ready for school. I ran down the hallway and snagged my backpack on the way to the coat hanger. I grabbed my jacket and shoved it on. I walked out the door and waved at my mom from outside the window. I walked towards the old bus. Our house from the view of the bus looked small, and it is, but it’s home and if we had more money we probably wouldn’t have gotten a new one.

       As I stepped onto the bus, I wished that I had a way to make money. I’d love for my family to have money. I looked back at our house as the bus driver took a left turn. I wish I had more money.

 

        After everyone got off the bus it drove away and I jogged into school. Before school officially started everyone had to wait in the library. Waiting in the library is pretty boring but there is always stuff to look at. The library at this middle school is humongous, filled top to bottom with books of all kinds. As I waited, I picked up a few books read through the back, there wasn’t anything worth reading in that one so I put it back. I’m not the most avid of readers but I’ve still visited this library plenty of times. The bell rang and middle schoolers stormed out of the library trampling each other and causing more injuries than a high school football team. Sixth graders sprinted down the halls and chanted random TV show songs. The teachers tried their hardest to control it every day but at this point I kind of feel bad for them. I stayed towards the back because I would have rather not been trampled. As I walked towards my locker, I thought of ways I could make some money for my parents and myself (why would someone decline money). I could have worked as a babysitter or as an ice cream scooper. I didn’t really have the time for those things though. I needed something I could do in a few hours of work and make tons of money but also not give too much money up, which meant the lottery and the casino wouldn’t have worked. I decide on either making a business or selling my random stuff. If I want a lot of money then I probably want to do both. When I get to my locker the hallways have calmed down.

          “Cal, what’s up,” I turned around and it was Evan, my friend since 1st grade. We became friends when he fell on the playground and I helped him walk to the nurse’s office, we’ve been friends since then.

         “Not much, I’ve just been loading my junk into the locker. First period is Social Studies, so I need my stuff for that class,” I said back.

         “My first period is Language Arts with Mr. Rodriguez so we can walk together.” We walked over to our classes. Ms. Foster welcomed me into the classroom as I walked in and I sat down in my seat. My assigned seat was in the second row near the door. Ms. Foster closed the door and started talking to the class. I thought about how I could make money for my parents. All of a sudden it hit me: I should sell people’s IPhones back to them. My school doesn’t allow you to have phones in class so I thought I could just grab the phones that were confiscated and sell them back to the kids who got them taken away. It sounded brilliant. I charged $20 per phone.

         “Remember to cite your sources and get started,” Ms. Foster said.

 

         With my plan in mind, I crafted a poster. It read, “lost phone, I can find it.” I tried to make it as funny and attention grabbing as possible. It said to talk to the dinosaur to get it back. That’s my nickname. Most people knew about it, so I thought it would work fine. I walked to the printer room as I stared at my poster. People were going to buy it. The printer room was dusty and had two printers in it. One near the window and one near the door. I made about 20 copies of my poster and posted them around the school. As the day dragged on, I got excited about how many people had noticed my posters. Kids at my school take their phones out way too often. You’re only allowed to take out your phone before and after school ends unless it’s an emergency which it usually isn’t. As I got on the bus home, I spotted some 7th graders checking out my poster. This was going to be very successful.

         A kid I didn’t know sitting next to me on the bus asks if I’d noticed the lost phone posters. He told me that the person who made it did a good job with the art and the amount of money you needed to pay. He told me how he lost his phone and I told him he should ask “The Dinosaur” to get it back for him. He smiled.

       

         It had been about a week since I first put up those posters. I had gotten so many people come up to me with a sad face asking me to get their phone for them. The reason I hadn’t gotten in trouble was because I used a nickname on my poster that none of the teachers knew. They had taken the posters down sadly because it is breaking rules to steal from the teachers. I'd made almost $600 off of this and I might just keep doing it because it is so profitable.

         As I got off the bus home I stared at my house before I entered. This house would be ours forever. I walked in the house and put my shoes in the closet. I hung my coat on the hanger and sat down in the kitchen. Both my parents were there so that was the time that I would tell them.

        “Mom, Dad,” I said. “You know how we’re running out of money?” My dad was first to respond. “Yes, I’d rather you didn’t talk about it openly to your friends.” I instantly told him that I never did. I never shared this with anyone. “I wanted to help out, so I made some money for you guys.” I gave my dad the $600 and he smiled. “Thank you, Cal, you didn’t have to do this but I’m glad you did.” I embraced my parents. I am glad that I have them.