Category Archives: Contest Winners

WRITING CONTEST WINNER!

SAND DUNES

BY

ANA HAAPALA

_ Fellow Citizens _

As you know, time is running out in India.

Soon time will stop. That will be the end of India.

Soon after that, the world will end too.  

As you must realize, I am devastated and wish to

help. I know where time is and I know how we can find it. 

I cannot go, of course, because I have a kingdom

  to rule. I am offering 200,000 rupees to anyone

who finds time. I will accept 10 soldiers to go on the

quest. If you wish to save India and get your name

in history books (whether you fail or win) report to

the royal castle of Prince Nads tomorrow at dawn.

Please save India

-Prince NADS

 

It was the middle of summer in India. It was hot and sticky. Still the younger children were confined upstairs while Momma cooked dinner. I watched my second to eldest brother enviously from the window. He was handsome and tall and riding an elephant. I would kill to ride an elephant, with my parent’s approval of course. I have ridden an elephant before… in the dead of night, once around the block and back but not any farther than that.

A yell from downstairs awoke me from my daydream. “Malika, boys, come down for dinner.” My younger brothers scrambled down the ladder, trying to be first. They always did this, all four of them.

I returned to gaze out the window at my brother. “Malika Bedi, come down for dinner right now. Your brothers are starving!”

My mother is tall and beautiful. Her hair is dark and very long. You can’t tell though because she always has it in a bun and tucked in a scarf. When she smiles, her whole face twinkles. When she looks at you, you feel amazing like she will always be there for you.

I descended down the ladder following the smell of dinner, Momma’s famous curry. My eldest brother had just gotten finished telling my mother and father about a quest he was going on. There was some scribbled notes next to him that said:

  Sand Prince     steal time     time in shape of a symbol

Arabian Desert     cave = lair     search    200,000 rupees reward

Camel herd for 10 solider     name in history books     only men

 

The last bit wasn’t surprising, but it still infuriated me. “Why can’t women quest too?” I asked.

“Because women aren’t strong enough,” explained Papa. He got an evil eye from Momma.

“That is right,” Momma said anyway, “Other things too.”

“Well it’s not fair!” I yelled.

“Do not raise your voice at the table, Malika! There is nothing you need to get so worked up about, you can’t change a thing.” Momma said.

“I don’t care!” I screamed.

“That’s it, go to your room!” boomed Papa.

I ran to my room. I could hear faintly my youngest brother saying, “Papa you raised your voice at the table.”

When I got to my room, I decided I would get a girl’s name in the history books, my name. I was going on a quest.

My papa is an elephant herder, so naturally my best choice for companion and animal was an elephant. I took my favorite, Nagali. I packed Nan bread, leftovers from Momma’s curry, dried fruit and some dry pig. I packed blankets, changes of clothes, dried herbs, A LOT of water and a painting of my family.

         I was scared and nervous and my belly was doing flip flops. Even though my stomach was threatening rebellion, I would do anything for justice, I was like that.

 On the other hand, I was leaving my family and I was only 12. I have no idea what I am doing. A thought hit me I had never had before. No one knows I am going, so if I die I will never be in history books, EVER. Well, I thought, I will just have to succeed.

I left a letter so my parents wouldn’t freak out as much and think I was kidnapped. Then I was off.

My days in the Arabian Desert were mostly a routine. Wake up, eat, ride, eat, ride, eat, ride, and sleep.

Then on the eighth day, I found the lair of the Sand Prince, well at least the map said it was his lair. It was a crazy big cave with stalactite formations on the ceiling. The mouth of the cave was very frightening and I assumed that was the way the Sand Prince meant it to be.

I slipped off Nagali and tentatively crept toward the cave mouth with quiet steps. Prince Nads hadn’t mentioned if the Sand prince would be there or not. Wait a second Prince NADS, SAND Prince. They sounded awfully alike. Then it hit me, Prince Nads was the Sand Prince!

I froze. Well I still need to get in there and find time, I thought, no reason in stopping now. I have come too far to stop now.

I stepped through the cave entrance and into darkness. All of a sudden, lights flickered and flaming torches lit up the walls making the stalactites grin like teeth. From the dim light I could see shelves with bottles of strange critters in pale green sludge and dark colored leather bound books. There were trinkets like genie bottles and stuffed eagles. There were also samples of sand with labels like, Saharan desert sand with ground sage. Now I knew where he got the name Sand Prince.

A dusty journal lay on a table. I opened it and started to read. I had learned how to read from my eldest brother. It read: i am Prince Nads and i will take over the world by stopping time. i will send soldiers out to my own lair to find time for a reward because i am too evil i cannot touch it, i have a black soul.

I stopped. Wow he was openly admitting a lot and just leaving it out on the table… men really are dumb sometimes.

I heard a whoosh of air and suddenly the Sand Prince or Prince Nads was standing before me. He had dark skin, dark eyes and dark hair, really everything about him was dark, even his height, which was a good six inches taller than Papa.

I took one look at him and ran. He charged after me as I knocked over bottles and books. Evidently he didn’t care that I was ruining his lair. I slid down one of the isles of bottles and jars to a dead end right next to an hour glass.

I was cornered. I looked around for a way out. Then I spotted the hour glass. Then I realized that was time sitting right there on the table. I started to panic. Then I got an idea. I grabbed it and the Sand Prince floated away in dust.

Was that the end? No. He laid a curse on me. I could feel it running through my veins. I could no longer save anyone. That was his curse, well thought out actually.

For the next 3 hours I sat dumbfounded. So many thoughts were rambling through my head. My family, how worried are they? Will I ever see them again? The Sand Prince and how much I despised him and how horrid he is. Most of all I thought of my eldest brother, my favorite brother, was he okay? Did he die? He had taught me so much and loved me so much too. I cannot bare losing him.

As all of these thoughts were swishing around my head, then a light bulb flickered on. If I killed the Sand Prince the spell would lift and I could go home and save India and possibly the world too.

I flipped through the Sand Prince’s book of spells that was right next to the hour glass.

All I need to find is a summoning spell. I thought as I flipped through the book. Ah ha! There it is… that is the weirdest spell I have ever heard. I wrote it down. Then I found the spell for death. Also really weird, but it will save people in the long run so I don’t care. I wrote that down too.

I summoned the Sand Prince. “Abalaga tumo randolusca,” I tried to boom in a loud voice.

He appeared and as soon as humanly possible I uttered “tanisco lavandinria”

Then he crumbled into fine dust, no, sand. The sand blew away into the next room. I followed it outside and there stood the camel herd with the ten soldiers staring at me.

I jumped back with surprise just in time to see the sand float away.

“Little miss,” a solider said appalled, “What are you doing here? Why are you holding time, and please explain yourself!”

“Well,” I stuttered “um… hi my name is Malika Bedi… and I think I just saved the world… I think.”

Another solider stepped down from his camel and said, “that is an awful lot of thinking for you to be doing but, under the circumstances I do believe that you did just save the world.”

That was a lot less glorious then I would have expected for someone who just saved the world. Then a cheer rose up from the crowd of soiliders. People were clapping and hooting and in that manner I was carried home on the shoulders of the soldiers.

When I got home people had already got wind of the story and we were greeted with a loud roar.

When I got down from the procession I spotted my family and I sprinted over to them. We hugged for a long time. Then my oldest brother joined us and we did a lot more hugging. My brother whispered in my ear, “Malika, you deserve a special place in history and so do all women. Papa was wrong, you are strong enough. I don’t care if you are a girl or a boy, you are a hero.

When the new king, King Mali, the son of the Sand Prince who was not evil, took his throne my name was printed before my eyes in the history books.

I showed all of them what girls can do. I was the first girl ever recorded in the history of India and I am proud of it. My name is Malika Bedi.

 

Special thanks to Malika Bedi, my old friend, for letting me use your name.

Thank you also to my parents and language arts teacher Miss Anderson for helping and encouraging me.

I dedicate this story to the 5th grade class and all my class mates and to my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Galati.  

-A.H.

Runner Up in our Writing Contest!

Hope

Written by

Maggie Farra and Abby Francis

May, 2015

 

 

I stood on the cobblestone street right outside the tan and pink bakery. The angel in my head whispered no, but the devil was too loud.

“Look!” I shouted.

Everyone in our small town came pouring out of their shops to see what was the matter.

“Sorry everyone, false alarm,” I said, eying my three friends in the crowd.

Everyone moaned and went back to their lives.

“Did you get it?” I asking, looking at the brown sack in Jalen’s hand.

“Yup,” replied Mandy.

“Ok, great.” I sighed and relaxed.

The devil in my head was very pleased. He finally stopped yelling. He had won this battle and would probably win the rest.

My friends and I were orphans, living on the streets of Venice, Italy. We worked together, robbing different shops and collected thing to survive.

We started to walk down the musty, dark, abandoned alley where we currently resided. It was located behind a small restaurant called Vinnie’s.

Sam took a large loaf of stolen bread. He broke a piece off and popped it into his mouth and handed the loaf to me. I tore a piece off and bit into it. The bread was plain, but fresh and yummy. We hadn’t had anything so fresh in weeks. I passed the loaf to Jalen.

That night I woke up to Sam’s obnoxiously loud snoring. The devil was hungry again. I shook Mandy.

“What?” Mandy moaned a little too loudly. She rolled over to face me.

“Shh,” I whispered, putting a finger to my lips. “Help me wake up Sam and Jalen.”

We quietly and quickly woke Jalen and Sam. Once everyone was awake, I motioned them to follow me. We walked down the stinky alley, out into the main street. It was completely deserted. Only a few cars were parked on the side of the street. A couple street lights were flickering, but most had already burned out. We ran, ducking in and out of side streets and alleys. It took us 15 minutes to get to the fish shop.

“Ok, here’s the plan,” I whispered.

I crept around the back side of the building. I checked the door the see if it would be an easy break in. Sadly, it was locked tight.

“How are we going to get in?” Mandy asked, again, too loudly.

“Shh,” I glared at her.

“Sorry,” she said more quietly than before.

The only way in was a window, about 20 feet off the ground.

“I have a plan,” I said. “See those crates?”

We started piling up the the crates. I climbed onto the pile. I was just about to unlatch the window when the crates collapsed under my feet and I fell. The last thing I heard before I blacked out was the yell of a man’s voice.

When I woke up I was slumped against a concrete wall. My vision was still a little blurry. It smelled like sweat. When my vision finally returned, I saw bars in front of me. For a split second, I hoped I was on the outside of the metal bars, but soon realized I was inside of them. I looked around the room. Mandy, Jalen, and Sam were also in cells. They were all asleep. There was a desk sitting on the opposite side of the room. The named tag on the desk read Officer Ben Stoffel. I lay back against the cold wall. How did this happen? I remember going to the fish shop to steal fish and I was some how caught. This was making me dizzy. Closing my eyes, I drifted off to sleep.

I woke to the sound of the lock on the door click open.

“Hope!” someone kicked me lightly. “Are you still alive?”

“Duh!” I said getting to my feet. “How did you get out?”

Mandy held up a hairpin. “The locks are terrible.”

“Let’s get out of here,” urged Jalen heading out the cell door.

We snuck out the office and arrived in a dark room with two police officers watching a very disturbing boxing match.

“Let’s crawl,” suggested Jalen. We nodded, dropped to our hands and knees, and creeped behind the sofa undetected. We arrived at the closed door.

“RUN!” I shouted out of nowhere.

We ran through the door and out into a hallway. We burst through the police station and out into the street. People bustled with bags and boxes in their hands. I dodged people, sprinting as fast as I could. I heard a man yell, “Slow down kid!”

“Get back here kids! Someone stop them!” a police officer yelled. I glanced behind me. My friends were right on my heels. The two police officers were a good distance behind me. I gave myself an extra boost of strength to go faster.

“How close are they?” I yelled.

“Too close!” replied Jalen.

I pushed my way through the crowd. I turned onto a side street. The street was not busy at all. I heard my footstep echoing off the of enormous buildings. There were a few lighted houses, but most were abandoned and there were hardly any shops. I ran faster. I felt adrenaline pulsing through my body and I heard my heartbeat in my ears. Faster, faster, run!!

The devil jolted around. Look what he had done this time around. I was always trying to NOT to listen to him every time. Maybe the angel was right, she just can’t find the courage to speak up.

I jumped over a pile of old moldy bricks and arrived at a beautiful, gray, lite house.

“Maybe we could ask the people who live here for help?” suggested Jalen.

“Look at the sign,” said Sam.

A yellow sign hung on a pole. It read, The Big House for Orphans.

“What! Who would live here? It’s a broken down shack! Even the roof has caved in!” replied Mandy.

“Mandy can’t you see, it’s an orphanage!” I said heading up the step of the big house.

“Yeah, Hope is right,” said Jalen.

“This is freaking me out,” said Mandy. “If this is a joke, then the joke’s over.”

“This is not a joke,” I replied walking across the porch. Sam and Jalen followed me.

“Stop!” Mandy yelled. “I don’t want you to get hurt!”

“Shh, they’ll hear you, the police……”

I was cut off by a deep voice behind me.

“Hold it kids,” the large police officer said.

“Run!” I yelled. All of us ran into the orphanage, even Mandy.

“You got me kids. I’m not going in there. I could get killed!”

“Told you it was dangerous,” murmured Mandy. “Let’s get out of this run down shack.”

“Run down shack? Boy, you got some high standards for orphanages,” replied Sam. Jalen nodded in agreement.

We were standing in a huge room. We were in front of a great maple wood desk. I could feel the cold marble floor through the hole in my old sandal. The desk was in the middle of the room and a staircase was on either side of the desk. At the top of the staircase, there was a balcony with big, brass, double doors behind it. The doors bursted open. A group of about ten kids ran down the staircase, followed by a young woman. Her blond hair was pulled back in a tight bun. She had on a light blue blouse that brought out her ocean blue eyes. She also had on a green skirt with white loafers.

“Hello. Welcome to the Big House for Orphans. I am Angela Merriweather but you can call me Angela,” she said. “Are you orphans?”

“Yes, we are,” I replied. “But some of us think this is a rundown shack.”

I glanced a Mandy.

“Who are you talking to?” asked Mandy.

“Mandy, stop it,” said Sam. He was starting to get annoyed.

Mandy began to tear up, “I’m sorry. I really can’t see anything!”

“Is your friend ok?” asked Angela.

“Apparently, she can’t see any of these amazing things,” I replied, looking around the orphanage.

“What’s her name?” asked Angela.

“Mandy,” I replied.

“Thank you,” Angela said. She walked over to the desk and pulled out the biggest book I had ever seen. It had a leather cover with five words sewn into it in yellow thread. It read: The Big Book of Orphans. She opened the book and flipped to the M section. We crowded around the desk, well everyone except Mandy.

“Her mother still alive,” said Angela still not taking her eyes of Mandy’s name. We stood there in shock.

“Mandy,” I paused and finally said, “your mom is still alive.”

Mandy froze in shock. Then she looked at the ground.

“You can only see the orphanage if both of your parents are dead,” Angela explained.

Angela pushed a few buttons on a keyboard behind the desk. Mandy gasped.

“Wow, this is amazing!” shouted Mandy.

A girl of about six years old started at us.

“Go back to the kitchen,” said Angela and the girl scurried up the left staircase.

“Hi, I am Mandy,” said Mandy quietly.

“No, you’re Mahalia,” Angela said, a tear ran down her cheek.

I looked at a picture of a handsome man standing with Angela. Angela was holding a beautiful baby girl with brown, wavy hair like Mandy’s. Mandy’s eyes looked a lot like the baby’s eyes in the picture. I suddenly realized the baby in the picture was Mandy.

“My baby girl!” Angela ran up and hugged Mandy. For a second Mandy just looked stunned. Finally Angela relaxed, tears were streaming down her face.

“I-I,” Mandy choked back tears. “You, I recognized you the moment I saw you.”

Angela kissed her. By now about 10 children and four staff had stopped to watch the scene.

“Angela, I mean Mom,” Mandy began. “These are my friends, Hope, Jalen, and Sam.”

“Hello.. again,” laughed Angela. “Would you like to stay?”

“Yes!!!” I squealed, basically jumping off the floor.

“We have plenty of room,” replied Angela. “Girls rooms 11- 13 are on the left staircase, and boys rooms are the same on the right staircase.”

“Thanks,” I said as Sam and Jalen ran up the right staircase. “One question?”

“Yes.”

“What is my real name?” I asked.

Angela took out The Big Book of Orphans.

“Your name is Hope,” said Angela, “just like your name tag.” Angela closed the book.

 

10 Months Later

         “Where’s my shoes?” I yelled.

“You haven’t told me where you’re going,” replied Angela. “I don’t even know where I’m going and by the way, it’s not shopping.”

I was pretty sure that she had a good idea that we were throwing her a baby shower at her new husband Adrian’s house.

“I told you I was helping Mahalia with homework,” I lied, finally finding my white flats. I smoothed out my white dress and walked downstairs. Angela was standing at the bottom of the stairs, her hands rubbing her stomach. Her baby would be born in about a month, so there was a huge lump in her white dress.

“And why do I need to wear this to go shopping?” Angela asked.

I ignored her question.

“Bye,” I said, pushing the door of the house open. Adrian’s house was only four blocks away, so I got there in a matter of minutes. I knocked on the door. Mahalia answered.

“Help us blow up balloons,” Mahalia said, shoving 10 deflated balloons in my hands. I started to blow them up. Sam and Jalen were having a fight with blue and white streamers. People started to arrive.

“Ok. Listen up,” Adrian yelled over the murmur of the crowd. “I’m going to get Angela, so when you hear a knock on the door make sure to hide and turn off the lights. When you open the door, yell SURPRISE!”

“Will do,” I replied and Adrian left the house. Five minutes later we heard a rap on the front door. I quickly turned out the light and whispered, “Everyone hide!”

People crouched behind the sofa. I opened the door while flickering on the lights.

“SURPRISE!!!” everyone yelled.

Angela laughed. “Thanks everyone.”

Soon people were settled down, talking, and laughing. Angela came up to Mahalia, Jalen, Sam, and me. “Great décor.”

“Thank you,” replied Mahaia and giggled.

“And thank you for the best months of our lives,” I said and hugged Angela.

The angel finally found courage again.

Red Hand Writing Contest Winner!

Ana Haapala is our contest winner! Her story Sand Dunes was very innovative. She added great texture with her opening that set the scene and we enjoyed the illustration she did for the cover.

Well done Ana!IMG_6517

 

RULES:
Student can choose one of the following subjects to write about:

- a chase scene. This can involve anything at all such as a cat chasing a mouse, a car chase, a policeman chasing a robber, a bully chasing a good kid. Be descriptive and a plot (why they are chasing and being chased).

- a hero: have them create a hero. The hero can be male, female, an animal, a historical figure.. anything. Have them describe the character and why they are a hero. Have them give some plot line of their antagonist and what they’re trying to save.

- a villain’s lair: have them create a villain’s lair. Where it is located, be a descriptive as possible, and what kind of things the villain does in the lair.

Nate Capener- First Place Winner for August’s writing contest!

Honorable Mention winner for July's Writing Contest!

First Place winner for August’s Writing Contest!

Nate Capener is the First Place winner for the writing contest in August! Here is his story:

The Golden Tomb

By Nate Capener

I stopped in front of the large, oak-wood over polished door and hesitated before knocking. Written in gold letters was a name.
Alfred D. Anderson
Alfred Anderson was an Archaeological employer, and a good one. Mr. Anderson hired the best Archaeologists, and I do consider myself to be… pretty much the best.
I lifted my hand and knocked three times on the door. From inside I could hear the scraping of a chair and then footsteps making their way towards me.
The door swung open and I found myself face-to-face with Alfred Anderson. He was slightly larger and taller than me, with a completely shaven baby face and beady brown eyes that looked down at me with a small greedy glint. His wispy brown hair was matted to the right.
“Mr. Nathan Turner, at last you show up at my doorstep!” He boomed and slapped my shoulder so hard that I had to re-set my footing to avoid falling to the floor.
“That’s me”- I started, but he cut me off. “Well, we don’t have all day Mr. Turner, please, sit down.”

I did as he requested.

“Very good, now before we start talking Archeology, Mr. Turner, we must talk contract!”

“Mr. Anderson,”- I started.

“Please, call me Alfred.”

“Of course, Alfred,” I began again, “I never talk contract before I talk Archeology,” I stated.

Alfred frowned as the paper contract crumpled to the ground.

“Very well,” He started slowly. “Let us talk… Archeology.”

“Egypt.”
1 Year Later
Egypt- 1924

A sweltering heat blasted my face as I stepped out of the cramped white plane. My eyes adjusted to the brightness and I looked around the small airfield. Several small planes were scattered around the asphalt, and yellow stripes painted the center of the runways. I looked up at the sun and shaded my eyes with my hands.

Perfect.

I searched for the person who I was supposed to be meeting. According to Anderson, his name was Pedro. Pedro would lead me to the tomb, where I would collect all the treasures that I could. I would then pay Pedro his modest share, get paid handsomely for my efforts, and then continue on with my rich, happy, life.

My eyes finally caught onto two figures on camels riding towards the plane. The Camel’s hooves kicked up sand sending a billowing trail of brown out behind them that glinted gold when it reached a certain point from the sun. I smiled as I thought of the riches I would be holding in my hands in just a day or two and began to walk quickly towards the two riders.

I raised both my arms in the air and waved. Both riders waved back and I began to jog towards them excitedly.

Making a living as an Archaeologist isn’t the easiest thing, so when Anderson told me about this dig, I was all for it.

“Trust me, Mr. Turner, nothing will go awry, and by the end of the job I- excuse me- we, will be millionaires,” he said.

I knew that he was planning on taking most of the dough for himself, that he thought he was just using me, but the truth was, I was the one getting the gold. I was the one going into the tomb. The only reason I needed that greedy slime was because of flight payments and guide arrangements.

I made it to the camels and slowed down, breathing hard.
To my right was an Egyptian man, who looked skittish and nervous from his body posture, but his face showed nothing but kindness and warmth. I reached up and shook his hand firmly.

“You must be Pedro, my guide?” I asked.

“Oh, yes hai am yor guide, but my name is Puebloto,” he smiled.

I finally managed to get my hand out of Pueblos, or whatever his name was, iron grip and turn to the rider on my left.

“Who are you?”

The rider on my left quickly pulled off her white hood and mask revealing that the rider was a blond haired girl. For a moment I was taken by surprise, but distracted by her looks. Her face was sunburned and tan with dark lines under her eyes; she had slender eye brows and shoulder length hair.
“Hi, I’m Nathan Turner,” I started, and then reached out my hand.
She nodded and replied, “Amanda. Mr. Anderson told me a lot about you.”
I shook her hand politely, but frowned.
“Mr. Anderson never mentioned another… are you an Archaeologist?” I asked, a little frustrated. This girl might be here to spy on me for Anderson, and would most likely be getting in the way of everything.
I turned back to my guide and said, “When do we start.”
“Now-eh- would be preefered please,” He replied.
“Look, Pesoto”- I started.
“Puebloto.”
“Whatever, listen Puebloto,” I said, “I just got off a plane ride across the Atlantic Ocean, didn’t either of you arrange a place to stay?” I begged.
“No, tonight we sleep outside in ta desert!” Puebloto answered.
I sighed and looked past them to the dull sea of glinting brown and gold, which matched perfectly with the bright blue sky and small whispy clouds behind it. Sand flew upward occasionally from random spots, flying high into the sky then disappearing.
I thought about sleeping out there in the dark without another soul in sight for miles and shook my head.
“Your crazy, Pueblo,” I muttered.
“toh,” he replied.
“What?” I squinted up at him.
“Puebloto, my name… it is Puebloto,” He explained.
I was about to say something smart, about how I was pretty sure Puebloto probably isn’t a real name but was interrupted by Amanda, who I had nearly forgotten about.
“So!” She exclaimed loudly. Both Puebloto and I looked over at her.
“Nathan, your camel is back there.” She turned in her camel-saddle and indicated towards the third camel of the bunch. His head was hung, and when I looked closer I thought he might be asleep, but then he started to slowly shuffle backwards until he was yanking on his ropes.
“His name is Amun, after the god of mystery,” she continued. “Have you ever ridden a camel, Nathan?” She asked.
“Uh, yeah, Once,” I replied, and walked over to the camel. In truth, my first camel ride left me with a bruise on my back the size of my hand.
“What’s eating you?” Amanda asked. I just waved her off and walked up next to Amun.
“Hey, Amun,” I began. The camel looked up at me for a second with dull eyes.
“You’re my camel now, we’re gonna have some fu”- I was cut off as Amun spit right onto my white shirt, then went back to trying to escape.
“Hey!” I exclaimed, but when I looked back at Amanda and Puabloto, they were both hunched over laughing in their saddles.
I fumed silently and wiped the spit off of my shirt, then pulled myself into the saddle.
From the time I had set foot in Egypt, nothing had gone my way. The girl, the annoying guide, and now a camel that hates me. Great. Couldn’t get any worse.
“Let’s get out of this airport,” I grumbled and, to Amun’s delight, turned around back to the desert.

Two hours later

Middle of the Desert.

The sun beat down on us in wave after wave. I reached into my saddle bag and pulled out some water. After two hours I had drunken almost one whole canteen. I only had five. Also inside the saddle bag was my small pistol that I had brought along just to be cautious, and my archaeological tools like a brush, a chisel, that kind of stuff.
I looked up from my water then and nearly spit it all out. Directly ahead of us was a billowing cloud of… sand.
“What is that!” I already knew the answer.
Amanda had been writing inside some journal about Egyptian artifacts or something, but now she looked up.
“Oh, that?” she answered, “that is a sand storm.” Then, calmly went back to writing in her book.
“Oh yeah?” I was starting to freak out a little bit now.
“Do not worry, they are not doo bad,” Puabloto reassured me, though Amun didn’t look sure. He was trying to turn around again- away from the storm- but I held him in place with the reign.
I stepped down from the saddle and turned to the other two.
“We should make camp here for tonight,” I said, “Publo, how long do we have until the storm reaches us?” I asked.
“Perhaps, er, tirty minutes, perhaps less,” He replied.
“Alright, we can set up the tent in that time,” I said.
I walked over to Puebloto’s camel and opened the large saddle bag. Inside were the supplies for one small white tent. I took out the supplies and placed them on the ground.
One large white cloth and six wooden poles laid before me. I was about to begin setting the tent up, when something caught the corner of my eye, opposite to the sand storm. I turned and squinted beneath the sun’s glare. From the direction that we had just came, I could just barely make out four camels, coming directly for my group.
I turned and sprinted to my archeology bag attached to Amun. The bag was a beige brown color and had one large flap and a long strap to throw around your head onto your shoulder. I flipped open the flap and reached my hand inside, feeling around until I found the binoculars I had brought on the trip.
“Um… Nathan, are you alright?” I shut out Amanda’s voice and ignored her question, then turned back to where I had seen the camels. I put the binoculars up to my eyes and scanned the horizon back and forth until I saw them. As I had thought, four camels were walking straight towards us, and I could just make out four riders on them. On one of the rider’s backs, sticking out just behind his shoulder, I thought I could make out the long muzzle of a gun. A big gun.
I turned back around to Amanda and Puebloto, kicking up the soft sand that I had been standing on.
“We’re being followed,” I stated as I returned the binoculars to my bag on my camel. Amanda squinted towards the mysterious riders.
“Are you sure?” She asked nervously. “They could just be travelers.”
“Always prepare for the worst and you’ll get the best possible outcome,” I replied. I usually didn’t like to use that term, one that my old man had practically lived by, but now seemed like a really good time. Besides, I could just feel it in my gut. Some sort of sixth sense. We were being followed, and honestly, I was scared.
“What are we going to do?” asked Puebloto.
I thought about it for a moment, then said, “Unless we want a fight, we’re going to have to lose them, but how….” I trailed off. We thought for a second, then, simultaneously, we all turned our heads towards the oncoming sand storm.
I turned back to the others and swallowed.
“We can lose them in there, cant we Pedroso?” I asked.
“Well, tee storm weel cover our tracks, and we will be out of sight, so I believe so,” He replied.
“How will we be able to stick together if we can’t see anything?” Amanda asked.
I thought about that for a moment, then came up with an answer that I thought was pretty genius.
“We can tie the camels together with a rope!”
“Do we have any rope?” Amanda asked again
“Yeah, I got some in my pack,” I replied.
“Do you have everything in that pack!” Amanda exclaimed
“Everything we need,” I hoped that was true.
I looked back towards our pursuers.
“We have to hurry!” I found myself yelling now. The wind had begun to pick up making it hard to hear, and it was throwing sand into my eyes. I pulled my shirt over my mouth so that I could breath properly. Then I grabbed the rope from my bag and handed it to Amanda.
“You tie the camels together, I’ll be right back!” I yelled. The wind kicked up sand in one huge gust and made a loud hissing as it was thrown onto us.
Then I ran, with my binoculars in my hands, towards the oncoming riders.
After I ran for about a minute, I knelt down and put the binoculars to my eyes and inspected the group once more.
Their camels looked tired, walking slowly with their heads down, which was good. There were four riders, the one on the far left was wearing thin white puffy clothing with a scarf to cover his mouth from sand. The man in the back was the one with the rifle, I was sure it was a rifle now, and dressed similarly to the other man to the left. The third was just about the same as the other two, and he had just taken a drink of water from a small brown cylinder. The last rider was different. He was wearing brown archeology clothing, with a bag similar to mine, and a wide brimmed hat and a white scarf. By now I estimated that they were maybe three hundred and fifty yards away, maybe more.
I watched them for another few seconds before returning to my group. When I got back the camels had all been tied together, and Amanda walked over to meet me.
“Who are they?” She asked, frowning towards the group.
“I don’t know, but they don’t look friendly, and I think one of them might be looking for our tomb and treasure,” I replied.
“Well, the camels are all ready to go when we are, I tied them with a double fisherman’s knot, invented by”- I cut her off by saying,
“That’s fine, let’s get going,” Then hopped up onto Amun.

Ten minutes later, all I could hear was white noise. Sand flew up everywhere getting into my eyes, down my shirt, filling my bag, and when I tried to talk, into my mouth.
I looked next to me and could vaguely make out Puebloto shielding his eyes from the sand. I covered my mouth with my shirt and gestured for him to come closer. He nodded and turned his camel towards me.
“Do you still know where we are going!” I yelled into his ear as hard as I could and felt sand in my mouth.
“I think so!” he screamed back.
“How long will this storm last?!”
He was about to answer when suddenly, a large rock blasted past both of our heads and bounced on the ground where it rolled to a stop, then was blasted off again and I lost sight of it.
“We have to stop. We can use the camels as shelter, dey are well used to these storms!” He yelled. “Otherwise we may die out here!”
I looked behind me. There was no sign of our pursuers, but I knew they were still going as we were. When someone is hired to follow another, they don’t stop while the other keeps going.
“No, we keep going!” I yelled back.
“Alright, but we should get to some high ground, it will help!” Amanda’s voice nearly made me fall off of my saddle. I looked to my left and saw her not ten inches away.
“Uh, good idea!” I replied. The only problem was that I couldn’t really see anything, let alone a specific mound of tall sand.
“This way!” Puebloto gestured and I looked at Amanda.
“Well, what are you waiting for?!” She yelled, “That way!”
I turned and followed the rope that attached me to Puebloto. I hoped he knew what he was doing.

The storm ended about two hours later. I sat breathing hard in my saddle, hunched over the camel’s head. All of us were. I slowly twisted around in my saddle and smiled at what I saw. Nothing but sand hills and blue sky. Perfect.
“We might av gone off course, Mr. Turner, but I will figure it out,” Puebloto breathed.
I was just happy we had survived.
“Hey, over there!” Amanda jerked up in her saddle as she yelled, “What is that?”
I followed her eyes and saw it. To our left was a huge sand-colored tower, reaching most likely as high as the great sphinx and as wide as… maybe the plane I had arrived in. It was a giant box.
“The tomb,” Confirmed Puebloto.
“That’s it?” I said with disbelief, “We actually found it?”
“You doubted me?” Puebloto teased.
“Not for a moment, Publoso,” I replied, then led Amun towards the Tomb.
“Puebloto,” He mumbled in return. Amanda followed behind me, smiling, though it was clear she was exhausted.
“Once we reach the tomb, I must stop,” Puebloto said sadly. “You two will be fine as long as you don’t do anyting stupid.”
“Oh, alright, are you sure?” Amanda asked.
“Yes, yes, quite,” he reassured.
“Well, thanks for leading us, I’m sure Mr. Anderson will”-
A echoing bang rang out suddenly. I ducked instinctively and looked around, just as Puebloto was thrown from his saddle and hit the ground causing sand to erupt around him.
“Pueblo!” I yelled. The bang must have been a gun shot. Another shot echoed around and this time, sand exploded to my left. “Get down!” I screamed and rolled off my saddle. Amanda jumped down and crawled over to me.
“What was that!” She hissed.
“Someone is shooting at us,” I replied. I pulled on Amun’s reigns, who grumbled and looked at me, his eyes were no longer dull but excited, darting around nervously. I pulled him down and took shelter next to his belly. Amanda did the same and looked at me nervously.
“What now?” She whispered, panic rising in her voice.
I slowly turned around and peeked over Amun’s belly. In the distance, I could make out four figures, one knelt on the ground aiming a rifle. I took shelter again and glanced at Puebloto who groaned and began to stir.
“Puebloto, stay still!” I hissed to him. He did not show acknowledgment, but stopped moving. I hoped he was just following my orders, not….
“If we wait until he takes another shot, then it will give us time to run to the tomb, where we can take shelter inside because he has to re-load,” I said hurriedly, “We just have to get him to shoot.”
“Let’s do it,” She said.
“We can’t just leave Pesblono there,” I replied, looking accusingly at her.
“Well, I don’t want to die!” she raised her voice.
Anger built up inside of me, from exhaustion, fear and hope, I retorted, “Ugh! I knew you would get in my way!”
“I get in your way?” she yelled. “I’m trying to be reasonable, how long is he going to live if we save him, heck it might get us killed!”
“I”- I was cut off again as another shot fired, hitting the ground next to us. Amun started to rise, I turned and calmed him, making shh ing noises softly. He slowly relaxed and spit in my eye.
“Ugh!” I exclaimed.
“We just missed our chance!” Amanda hissed.
“I told you, I’m not leaving without”- another loud shot erupted. It sounded closer now. I looked at Puebloto, then back at Amanda, and nodded.
“Alright, lets go!” I screamed. We both scrambled to our feet and bolted, not looking anywhere but the large opening to the tomb. We were almost there when a part of the wall to the tomb exploded next to me. I hadn’t even heard the shot, my ears were plugged and for some reason I felt weak. Then I dove into the entrance and slid to a stop on what felt like marble floor. A moment later, Amanda slid into me and we both crashed into a solid wall where we laid, breathing hard side by side. I slowly turned my head towards her. Her skin was pale and her eyes fluttered open and closed before she looked at me too. Then I kissed her. I don’t know why, she had just stopped me from saving a man’s life, but then again, she did just save mine. We kissed for just a few seconds before I pulled away and blinked. She looked surprised, but happy. Then I felt it. In my left arm, pain erupted, rippling through my arm until it reached the rest of my body. It felt lik e I was on fire, or maybe I was freezing, I couldn’t tell and I didn’t care. I cried out and fell onto my back.
“Oh god, what’s wrong?” She exclaimed, “are you hit?”
I nodded and pointed with my good arm to the wound.
“OK, just lie there, the people are still outside, we need to move,” she was looking around frantically for another exit, another route, a door, something.
My vision was going dark and for a second I lost sight of her running around and banging on walls desperately. Then I noticed something. Just above me was a small lever, just big enough to fit my hand around.
“Here,” I groaned weakly, and pointed to it with my right hand.
“Yes!” She exclaimed, and ran over to me then yanked down the lever. For a second, nothing happened. Then, I felt the floor begin to shake, slowly at first, vibrating just a little, then getting bigger and bigger until the floor was actually swinging and I realized we were moving downwards. The floor was sinking lower and lower, leaving the door, the armed men, Puebloto, and Amun behind.
“Alright,” Amanda sighed with relief and sat down next to me. “How does it feel?” She asked.
“It burns, but I think I can get up, if there’s any trouble,” I replied, and pushed myself into a sitting position with my good arm. We kept sinking lower and lower, and the room kept on getting darker.
“What now?” She asked, pulling her legs against her chest and glancing around.
“We wait, I guess,” I replied.
“Alright… Nathan, there’s something I have to tell you”- she stopped and gasped suddenly.
I opened my eyes and saw what she had been so excited about. The floor was sinking slower and had just lowered into a larger room, lit by hundreds of small holes reaching all the way up to the surface. All over the side of the chamber were Hieroglyphs, seeming to glow from the light. An inside the room was gold: tons of it, piled on top of itself, gleaming off the sunlight from outside. Gold coins, gold cups, and gold necklaces all circled around one large coffin.
I couldn’t help but laugh excitedly and slowly stood up and looked around, despite my injury. “It’s Amazing!” I yelled, “We did it!” I turned back to Amanda who was not as happy as I was. She stood as the floor jerked to a stop and walked closer to me. She looked sad, and angry, and maybe a little disappointed.
“Nathan, I’m sorry,” She sobbed.
“What – for what? we made it!” I exclaimed excitedly. “I don’t know how to get back up, but we can figure that out later!” I spread my good arm out and sighed contently.
“No… Nathan…,” She trailed off, then her gaze shot towards the ceiling. I heard it to. It sounded like ropes bouncing off a wall or something. I frowned.
“Amanda, what is it?” I said.
“No,” she breathed. Just then, the end of four heavy ropes fell to the ground and hung there. Amanda looked conflicted now.
“Amanda, it’s the gunners, run!” I yelled.
She didn’t move.
“Amanda?” I frowned.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want”- Suddenly, four men dropped down to the floor with one solid thud that reverberated all throughout the chamber, guns all pointed at me. The three wearing white all had long black beards and carried pistols, except the one with the rifle. The man in the middle had buzz cut blond hair, a bag like mine, and a pistol aimed at my heart. He had familiar eyes that gleamed with a small greedy glint.
“Excellent work, Amanda,” He turned to her and lifted her chin. She glared him, her arms at her side helplessly. I immediately realized what I had been coming to realize for the last minute.
“Your with them!” I yelled furiously.
The Buzz cut guy raised his arm and pointed it at me without taking his eyes off Amanda.
“Hands in the air, Turner,” His voice was cold and smooth, and it scared me. I slowly raised my right arm into the air. One of the men in white gestured with his gun to my other arm, the one that had been hit by his bullet, and then gestured skywards.
“I can’t lift it, you shot it you idiot!” I yelled at him. He scowled but did nothing else.
“Why did you do this?” I turned my fury back to Amanda, “Who set me up with you!”
She shook the other man’s hand off her chin.
“You fool, she was sent to kill you if we didn’t,” he said as he turned back to me.
“By who?” I growled.
“Well, Mr. Anderson of course,” He explained, “When you took control of his deal, setting yourself up with most of the money, he got angry and sent me, his son, Andy Anderson, and his daughter, Amanda Anderson, to stop you and get the gold for the family,” Andy chuckled, “And it seems to me, you fell for her act more than we suspected.”
I thought my situation over carefully. Four men with guns pointed at me, most likely they are going to kill me and take all the gold, then rip open the coffin and the mummy inside.
I glared at Amanda. She gingerly met my eyes.
“You’re going to regret this,” I muttered. She had just got me killed, well, pretty much killed. I closed my eyes and calmed down. There is no such thing as a no-win situation. There is always a way that this could turn my way. Of course, it could also turn their way… a lot easier.
Andy Anderson holstered his weapon and smiled.
“Now, Mr. Turner, I think I will take your gold, which is now my gold, and then replace the mummy within that coffin with your live body, and seal it so that you cant get out,” he said. He took a step forward towards me.
I glanced down at his gun holster and noticed it. Nothing. Andy’s gun was missing. I frowned and looked around. I was sure he had just put it in there….
“Any last words?” He asked.
Suddenly, a gun shot went off from right behind Andy, and he was blasted forward, his hands jerking to the left as the bullet hit him in the right shoulder, landing in a pile of gold and spraying coins everywhere. The three guards turned to see where the shot had come from, and something told me to act. I reached into my pack and found my gun. I stretched out my arm and fired, hitting the man with the rifle on his right arm.
“That’s for shooting a hole in my arm,” I muttered. One of the men was closing in on Amanda, who had fired. I shot the other just as he was turning around and he spun once in a full circle before slamming into the wall behind him. I then ran forward. The last man had realized the threat of two enemies against one and dove to the side as Amanda fired another shot. I was about to shoot him when my pistol was ripped from my hand by another bullet. I looked back in surprise and saw Andy, struggling to stand, with his gun outstretched. I dove into the gold and rolled, the bullet missing my head by inches. I sprang up and dove onto him, not really able to throw a punch with just one arm. We were on the ground now, rolling in gold as we struggled for control of the gun. Another shot fired and the bullet bounced off of the wall next to me, ripping hieroglyphs to chunks. I let go of his gun arm and elbowed his face. He cried out, and I finally knocked the gun away fr om him. I struggled, slipping, to my feet and kicked him down a pile of treasure. I looked back at Amanda, who had been cornered once more by a man with a black beard.
“No, wait!” I yelled, and then, just as the man was about to fire his gun, another shot went off. I looked around. My eyes were then drawn upward as the man fell to the ground. Leaning over the edge of the top of the tomb, was Puebloto and Amun, who spit loudly and hit me in the eye.
“You made it!” I yelled up.
“Yes!” He smiled, the cringed in pain from his wound.
I looked back at Andy. He was laying in a small pile of golden coins, unconscious, one tooth missing from his mouth and his head resting on a small golden pillow. I looked at Amanda and, despite my efforts to still stay mad, I smiled.
“Lets get this gold back home,” I breathed.

She nodded again and looked at the ground.
“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed and put her hands over her face and began to cry. “I killed all these people, and I almost killed poor Puebloto and Amun!”
“Hey,” I said, “It’s over now, lets just go home,” I looked back up at the two figures watching with interest.
“We’re ready to go,” I said.

 

Winning story for July’s writing contest!

 

coralee

 

Coralee Lerma of Pasco, Washington sent us the winning story for July’s writing contest. Here it is!

Sea Scale

I was a normal girl once. At the age of seventeen I had a family, they weren’t the best family, only my parents, me, and the help that worked around the house, but they were my family and I loved them. I lived in a house that must have seemed like a mansion to anyone who didn’t live there. We lived in a city called Seascale and our house looked over the Irish Sea. My nurse maid, Mrs. Peirce, she told me stories of what the rest of the house looked like. She said the walls were red brick and that she worked at the house so long she could tell who was walking down the shiny hard wood floors by the sound of the footsteps. She told me the house looked dark and sad unless it was filled with people. My parents loved to fill the house. I could hear how much fun they were having down stairs, all the yelling and laughing. They had at least four large gatherings a year and multiple small ones. I loved watching the people arrive in horse drawn carriages wearing overly glamo rous gowns and jewelry. I watched through the one window in my bedroom as the man opened the carriage door to escort his date into our home. One night as I watched a young boy around my age came. Very rarely did anyone that young ever go to such an extravagant ball. He saw me though. He looked at me and smiled as he lifted his hand as a gesture of hello. I waved back, but soon our small moment was over as he stepped inside our mansion. I loved watching out of my window and seeing the sun set over the Irish Sea at night. Mrs. Peirce once told me my room was the happiest room in the house. I think she was trying to cheer me up on one of my low days. I hadn’t left my bedroom before; at least not that I could remember. My parents told me they were trying to protect me from the hardships of the world, and maybe in their own way they were. I still remember my bedroom; everything was pink and I had thousands of things scattered about. My favorite thing was to leave my stuff o ut before bed and see them magically put back where they once belonged. The magic was Mrs. Pierce, of course. My days were always the same, having breakfast and getting dressed then being free to do what I wanted, as long as I stayed in my bedchambers, until one extraordinary day that changed my life forever.
The sand was hot underneath my porcelain skin that had never seen the sunlight except for through a glossy window. I recognized the crystal blue water and the small patch of white sand that separated the rocks from the sea, but I’d never been there before, or around for that matter. I couldn’t see my house or the lush trees that surrounded it. I watched the salty water as the tide slowly brought it in to tickle the tips of my small feet. I sat up as my ashy black hair blew in the ice cold wind that chilled me to my fragile bones. I was shaking, but I didn’t know if I was shaking in fear or from the cold Autumn air. I brought my arms up and hugged myself, letting the small bit of warmth that was left in me heat the rest of my frozen body. My eyes burned with tears but it wasn’t because of the thick salty air. I stood up slowly with the fact that I had nowhere to go ringing through my brain. I walked away from the foam covered waves that chased my heels as I walked towards the rocky assent ahead of me. I wore the silky white nightgown that fell to my knees, the same one I wore when I fell asleep. Whoever left me here hadn’t even bothered giving me a coat. My feet lightly skimmed across the slimy rocks that were still wet from the morning dew. The humidity was high but the air was cold and the rocks I was climbing slid beneath my feet after I hoisted myself off of them. My underdeveloped bones tired rapidly, and my lungs burned for air. I was only half way up the ridged slope before I was almost out of stamina and ready to quit, but I knew I couldn’t. There was no way I could go down, but I didn’t think I could make it the rest of the way up either. My brain mocked me; it told me I was silly for even thinking I could make it up. It criticized every step I took. I hauled my aching body over the ledge. I’d never had any sort of physical exercise and just the short ten foot climb used almost all the energy I had. I lay on my back and made shapes of the clouds that floated above me. I must have watched the clouds for hours before my stomachs growling pulled my out of my absent mind. I started walking, not knowing where I was going but keeping the ocean to my side. The swells grew as the day went on, the wind blowing and storm clouds rolling in. I hadn’t seen any buildings, but Mrs. Peirce told me once that there could be miles and miles of no human beings, and then a huge city placed in the middle of nowhere. My feet ached from walking without shoes as rocks and twigs pierced my un-calloused feet. I could feel my skin burning from the sun rays that cut through the clouds. I walked further than I ever had before. I couldn’t make it on my own, I knew that. I shivered as a small rain drop landed on my plump round nose. My eyes glossed over with salty tears as reality slowly sank it. I was lost and alone and left to die in a waste land of nothingness, until I saw a glimmer of hope. Hope had gotten me as far as I had been. Now I was relying on faith alone. Faith that this small brick cottage in the midst of a large grassy field would take me in, and become my safe haven. I ran to it, my soft feet being poked and prodded with whatever substances lay in the dead grassy field. My muscles ached as the cottage came closer. My lungs burned for air as I slowed my run to a walk, letting myself rest my body against the cold walls. I took deep breaths, not knowing whether to knock or not, but soon my rumbling stomach and tired body took over. I lifted my hand and let it rap the door three times, hoping it was loud enough for them to hear.
“Nathaniel!” I heard someone yell from inside. “Get the door please.” I waited a few moments before I heard muffled complaining from inside the door. “And then I’ll . . .” She started before seeing my colorless face. “Oh dear, come inside, Darling. Let’s get you warmed up.” She wrapped her arm around me, pulling me into her warm body. Her grey hair was pulled up into a messy bun that rested atop her head and she wore a cooking apron with slosh covering it. She seated me in front of the fireplace as she muttered soothing words. “Are you hungry?” She asked softly and I nodded and smiled slightly. She wrapped a blanket around my shoulders before shuffling to her small kitchen. Their house wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t small either. It was probably one story with a cellar in the basement. It was made of red brick and hard wood floors. Most of the houses around there were. The woman’s home was dr essed in animal skins and old artifacts and antiques that one of her age would acquire. She looked quite old. Her skin was wrinkled and had old freckles that dotted it. She poured hot stew into a bowl that was resting on the stove and handed it to me as she pulled a chair up beside me and watched.
“Thank you.” I said softly before taking the first bite filled with potatoes and beef slivers. It tasted like the best meal I’d ever had, probably because I was starving.
“No problem, Child.” She responded with a large smile. She seemed very comforting as she rocked back and forth in her old rocking chair. “Where do you come from?” She asked as I ate rapidly. My stomach ceased to growl and when I had finished the large bowl of stew I was completely full.
My eyes started to burn with tears as I thought how to answer. “I come from a large estate, but I wouldn’t call it a home.” My voice sounded strained and lifeless. “Back at my old house I was never allowed to leave my room, but today I woke up on the bank with no recognition of how I got there. My family had abandoned me and . . . I can’t go back there!” I balled into my hands. I couldn’t go back, even if this sweet old woman didn’t let me stay with her I couldn’t go back home.
“Oh darling, I completely understand!” She said as she held my in her warm arms. “You have no reason to cry. We will take care of you here. You will be perfectly safe.” A loud creek filled the air. My head jerked out of her arms as I stared at the front door. A boy came in, probably around my age with dirt covering him from head to toe. He looked familiar to me, but I knew I couldn’t know him. I didn’t know anyone besides the people who visited my room daily, and he surly wasn’t one. He had short ashy blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that were filled with surprise from the first moment he saw me. I hid my face from him and rubbed my eyes until the tears were gone.
“Who is this?” The boy asked as he slid his mud covered shoes off and walked towards me. “What’s your name?” He asked as he kneeled in front of me, trying to look at my face that was covered by my hands.
“Elizabeth.” I said with my voice barely audible. “Elizabeth Rose Collins.”
“Hi Elizabeth, my name’s Nathaniel, but everyone calls me Nate. How old are you?” His voice was soft and soothing as if nothing had ever bothered him.
“I’m seventeen.” I said. I looked at him, my eyes red and my face puffy from crying.
“So am I.” he said with a slight laugh in his voice. “Grandma, I’m going to go get cleaned up and then why don’t we all get acquainted. How does that sound Elizabeth?”I nodded in response and he smiled, disappearing into the hall way.
“Why don’t you get cleaned up as well?” The older woman said. She led me to a small bathroom where she left me with a towel and a fresh set of clothing. I showered quickly, then slid on the long dress she had given me. It was much too large for me but I tied it in the back and made do with what I had. I opened the door and walked out without looking as my body slammed into something soft, yet hard as a rock. I ran into Nathaniel.
“I’m so sorry!” I apologized rapidly. He laughed as he gestured for me to go in front of him.
“You’re fine,” He said through a smile. Life in their home wasn’t bad. They fed and clothed me and gave me a warm place to stay. I helped with field work and cattle, and for once in my life I could truly say I was happy. But then, on a random chance of fate, my story truly began. Nathaniel and I walked down to the beach one day. It was the first warm day in months so Grandma let us go down and enjoy it. I walked along the edge as Nate ran around in the water.
“Come in, Liz!” He shouted in his thick Scottish accent. He made up his own nickname for me, one that only he used. I shook my head at him but he insisted. He grabbed my hand and pulled me into the water. My body tingled, but I thought it was just the coldness of the water. I had no idea what was actually happening. I didn’t realize anything was happening to me at all until that night; something weird while I was washing up before bed. I had the water running in the bathroom sink, but the water didn’t fall naturally like it should have. The water stuck to my hand as if I was holding something solid in my hand, but I wasn’t holding anything solid, the water was floating in my hand. I turned off the faucet as quickly as I could. What was I supposed to do? My brain flooded with things. I was scared, excited, confused, so many things at once that made my heart beat faster than it ever had before. Nate pounded on the door and my head jerked to the sid e.
“One moment!” I yelled but by the time I looked back to my hand it was empty. I shook my head and stared at my face in the mirror. My eyes brows knit together in frustration and curiosity. Was I imagining it? I had had a fairly long day, maybe I was dehydrated and imagining things. But it had felt so real.
“Elizabeth, someone is here for you.” Nathaniel said. I opened the door and he greeted me with a smile. I followed him down the hallway and into the sitting room.
“Mrs. Pierce!” I yelled as I bounced off my toes into a sprint to embrace the old woman pulling her into my arms.
“Oh child, you’re just as beautiful as the day you left!”Mrs. Pierce proclaimed as she cupped my rosy cheeks in her hands to look at me.
“Mrs. Pierce, with all due respect, I never left. I was left alone on the beach.” I said as I took the tiniest step back. She clasped my hands in hers. “How did you find me?”
“I’ve been asking around, putting out lost signs and by some sort of chance someone said they had seen you here. I’ve come to bring you home.”
“Mrs. Pierce, I love you and I miss you so much, but I can’t go back there. I’m free now and these people, they are like family to me now. They let me be free to do what I want. I can’t go back and be locked up again Mrs. Pierce; I was a prisoner in my own home!” I bit my lip as the tears built up in my eyes, but I forced myself to not cry.
“Honey you don’t have a choice, these people, they aren’t your real family.” Mrs. Pierce said. I could feel Grandma and Nate watching me. I knew they didn’t want me to leave.
“Mrs. Pierce, I’ve made my decision. I cannot be left in a home where I am neglected. It is my choice to stay, and you will respect that.” I stood up straighter and every muscle in my body tightened at my words.
“You are just like your father. I guess I cannot make you leave here, but I will be visiting and if I see any sign of neglect or wrong doings I will be taking you home.” I wrapped my arms around her and hugged her as tightly as I could.
“Thank you Mrs. Pierce.” I whispered.
“You’re so welcome my child. Now I must be going. I’m working at a pub down the road from here. Now that you don’t live at the estate I’ve looked into other options. I love you my child, no matter what happens.” With one last embrace she left, closing the squeaky door behind her.
“Who was that?” Nathaniel asked me as he stood by my side.
“She was my chamber maid back home. She raised me as if I were her own. She’s probably the only thing I actually miss.” Nate forced a half smile and wrapped his arm around my shoulder.
“Thank you for staying.” He whispered before letting me go. I smiled at him. Nate had turned into my best friend, the only friend I’d ever had.
“Well that was eventful!” Grandma exclaimed. “You’re always welcome here Elizabeth.” Life was easy after that. I had no more weird encounters with water and Mrs. Pierce came for dinner once every week. Everything seemed perfect. We were all happy. Months went by and one morning I awoke just as every morning before. Nathaniel and I took care of the animals before breakfast. I walked to the well with my bucket to retrieve water for the watering trough.
“You got it Liz?” Nathaniel asked as he did everyday while I struggled to carry the heavy load.
“Yeah,” I responded followed by a grunted effort as I hoisted it above my head to pour the water into the trough. I went through this a few times before the water trough was full to the brim, but what happened after wasn’t supposed to happen, at least it never had before. I could see waves in the trough and bubbles coming from nowhere.
“Nate?” I yelled through shaky breaths.
“Aye?” He yelled as he walked towards me, but it was too late. The water splashed from its container and chased my ankles as I took slow steps back. My heart raced within my chest and my hands shook in fear. The water glued to my ankles and raced up my body so I couldn’t move. I lifted my chin to take the deepest breath I could before it engulfed my body entirely. Nathaniel stood there motionless watching me, not knowing how he could help, not knowing what was happening, but I heard something within my head, some sort of calling to the water. I didn’t hear words though; I couldn’t explain what I was hearing. It was almost like hearing another language and understanding it completely, but the language was the movement of the water. It called me to the sea. As soon as I understood it released me. I fell to my knees and took in deep breaths as Nathaniel rushed to my side.
“Are you ok?” He asked more frightened than I was.
“Yes,” I replied. “I’m fine.”
+++
I replayed the story to Grandma as we sat around the dinner table with bowls of stew. She listened contently and for some reason I didn’t know, she actually understood.
“You’re off to sea tomorrow.” She said sternly. “I have an old friend who will take you both to sea with him. You can’t deny destiny my child.” I looked at her with a soft smile.
“Thank you Grandma.” Nathaniel and I packed for sea that night. After saying goodbye to Grandmother we walked to the docks, she said we would be at sea for a week and then be brought home, Nathaniel was coming because Grandmother said I would need protection, even though he hadn’t shown any signs so far of being able to protect anyone. He was strong and tall and could be intimidating if he tried, but when I was being drown alive he did nothing to try and help me.
“Aye mates.” An old man said as we walked towards his large wooden ship.
“Hi,” I said as I reached my hand out to him. We shook hands and then he shuffled us aboard.
“Name’s Seamus, ever been aboard lass?” He asked as he sat us down on a bench by the edge of the massive boat.
“Elizabeth, and no, I can’t say that I have. This is my friend Nathaniel; his Grandmother is the one who referred us to you. Thank you so much for this, by the way.”
“Ah, dear old Marge, such a sweet miss she is. Where we headed?” He asked as he walked himself up to the ships wheel. His grey hair was receding to the middle of his head leaving a relatively large oval shape that he covered with a sea mans cap. I looked over to Nathaniel to ask where we should go, but I probably knew more than he did. He shrugged and I walked up to the captain.
“That way,” I said as I pointed my finger towards the open sea. We ate pickled foods and cold soups the whole trip and nothing at all happened until the last day of our voyage, the day before we headed home.
“What is that?” Nate shouted while he peered his head over the side of the ship.
“What?” I asked as I rushed towards him but once I got there I realized what he saw. Something floating in the water that looked more like a rock than anything else, but I knew it wasn’t just a rock as its slimy green head purged itself from the water. Its head alone was only slightly smaller than the ship. It stretched its neck, its head coming towards us. I reached my hand out to him, stretching my fingers, aching to touch it, something calling me towards it. I could hear Nate in the background asking what I was doing, telling me not to, but I couldn’t resist. I wasn’t in control of my body anymore. With one fell swoop the behemoths mouth gripped the back of my garments and whisked me to sea with him. My vocal chords ached from screaming but in a few moments I wasn’t afraid. He let me down into the water as gently as possible, he meant me no harm, and I knew that. I extended my hand to him, stroking his nose ever so lightly. The sea monst ers eyes closed as a low purring sound came from deep within him.
“Fire!” I heard from behind me. Everything started happening so quickly after that. A spear bounced off the reptile without leaving a wound, but the mammoth animal knew he was under attack. Waves quaked higher than I could see and soon they were taking me under water. I gasped for air as my head bobbed under the water, but something kept me afloat enough to breathe. The sea monster had some sort of magic within him. He controlled the seas. My eyes closed for a mere moment and I could see the animal’s life flash before my eyes. He was a new born to a small nest of tiny reptiles but got separated from the rest. He made his way to the water years ago, not knowing that the Irish Sea was being used as a chemical waste plant. His body tingled in a sensation only known as his transformation, from reptile to monster. He grew rapidly into the behemoth he is today, his job to watch over the sea, my job, to watch over him. His name was Antaeus. My eyes opened and I saw the shipman getting ready to fire and the giant reptile trying to defend its self.
“Stop!” I screamed over the roar of the waves.
“Elizabeth, get in the ship!” I heard Nathaniel command.
“Tell Seamus to stop firing! This animal is innocent!”
“Elizabeth!” He yelled but he knew I wasn’t one for giving in. He ripped his gripping hands from the deck and rushed to the sea captain. I couldn’t see what was happening but Nathaniel could be persuasive if he wanted to be.
“Antaeus!” I yelled and the reptile looked down to me. The next words that came from my mouth were in Irish as I commanded him to put me on his back, which he did. I sat on a large pointed scale that held me up as I gripped onto others. It was almost as if the animal was designed with a place for me. I was able to convince Seamus of the animals innocence and then we traveled home and replayed the story to Grandmother, she didn’t seem surprised though. In fact she seemed to already know what was going to happen before it happened. I spent the rest of my days half on the sea and half on land. I was married to Nathaniel by the age of twenty two and our two children grew up with a love for water. I never saw my parents again but I got frequent visits from Mrs. Peirce and sometimes she traveled with us aboard our ship. Life from then was happy, we were all happy. Even Antaeus.