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Bart and Eftar: a modern day fable

By Nando, 9, UK

Once upon a time there was a boy god named Eftar who had hair as dark as Coke Cola. He had a big heart and understood what others could not. His house was heaven and his family were all Gods.

One day the boy god Eftar was looking into the mortal world and saw a man rebuilding his home after a war. The man's name was Bart and he wanted to use solar panels to power his home. But the brothers who were helping him only laughed. "No! that is the craziest idea we have ever heard! We will use regular fossil fuel like gas or oil and coal to keep us warm!" said the brothers.

The boy god Eftar wanted to help Bart. That afternoon at six o'clock after the brothers finished making the gas tank repairs, Eftar sent an earthquake to the mortal world. The gas tank rolled all the way down the hill past a rock as it crashed and broke.

Eftar then sent a magical owl to warn Bart and the message read "tell your brothers that I, Eftar, will send an earthquake when they don't listen to your idea."

Bart shared the message with the brothers. They thought it was just silly stuff and put in another gas tank. Eftar sends another earthquake waking the brothers from slumber. They watch as the gas tank rolls all the way down the hill and spatters into a million pieces.

The next morning the brothers help Bart to put in the solar panels. The moral to this modern fable is: sometimes truth needs a powerful friend.
(July 2009)

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The happy clown

By Ellie, 9, Norwich, Norfolk,, UK

Once upon a time there was a clown, and he was called Mr Happy. Everytime Mr Happy came out every one laughed at him because the way that he walked. But then one day this other clown called Mr Hilarious of course Mr Hilarious thought he was better than everyone else. After that Mr Happy was really unhappy and that was not like Mr Happy. Then Mr Hilarious got the police to arrest Mr Happy because he was so sneaky. After that everyone thought Mr Hilarious was the BEST then Mr Happy got out of prison and Mr Hilarious got in prison because all Mr Happy's friends witnessed him and Mr Happy was happy again and all his friends liked him.
(July 2009)

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The Case of the Golden Koala

By Miriam, 10, London, UK

"Right," said Detective Munboe. "As you all know, the object in question is a statue of a koala made of gold. From my research I have gathered that the thief was working from inside the house. I need to know where each of you were at the time of the crime."
He looked at Daniel and Pete, the twins. Almost as if he had read the detective's mind, Daniel burst out, "I was watching 'Simon Super Vision' on
the television in my room!"
"I was playing 'Super Alien Invasion Version 2' on the DS!"
The detective turned towards the olderchildren and consulted them. "Jo? Hailey?"
"I was doing my English comprehension and Hailey was..." Jo started.
"I was doing my division revision for... for World Maths Day," Hailey finished for him, looking edgily up at the detective. Munboe's mind was whizzing but he kept himself calm and turned to the children's mother, Lady Limousine.
"Madam, may I ask where you were?"
"Me? I was getting ready for the occasion. My sister is getting married."
Detective Munboe scribbled in his notebook and frowned. "What about Professor Limousine?"
"He went on a trip to the Natural History Museum."
"Yeah, Dad's mad about fossils and stuff," Pete butted in.
The detective frowned. He gritted his teeth. He bit his lip and - "There must have been a diversion!"
"Yes! That was when I came in." Everybody looked at the children's granny. "I came in from collecting my pension and tripped over Pete playing
DS just inside the door."
"Pete really screamed. Everyone came running," Hailey interrupted. "Everyone except Mum."
The detective had made up his mind. "Children, your granny can look after you until your father gets back from London. Lady Limousine, or should I say Prisoner 39876, follow me..."
(July 2009)

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The Mystery

By May, 9, China

One day of those school holidays, Miss Glitter's treasure box with lots of jewellery in it, was stolen. Should I tell you how the twins May and Amy Li, solved this mystery? Well, this started when Rebecca, Sarah and Tink were working outside at Miss Glitter's garden.

'Girls! Have you guys TAKEN my treasure box? Mr. Sun, the postman said that he saw you creeping toward the treasure box last night....'

'No, we haven't, Miss Glitter!' replied Tink, with a puzzled look.

'I have evidence here,' Miss Glitter said, pointing to the size of those footprints. 'You're FIRED!' roared Miss Glitter angrily.

The three girls had no place to go but they went to their friends, May and Amy Li's house. Then Sarah told them the whole story with tears pouring down.

'You must help us at once, otherwise we'll be sent to prison,' cried Rebecca.

'You really seem to get into trouble,' said Amy.

'Let's meet at Mango Road next Monday night, and go to Miss Glitter's garden to find some clues,' said May, thoughtfully.

The three girls went home with a relief smile on their face.

Time passed quickly, and it was eleven o'clock on Monday night. The five girls crept out of bed, tiptoed downstairs and ran to Mango Street. They climbed over the fence and went into Miss Glitter's garden. They held their breathe. Suddenly, May heard a weird sound, which was coming from the cellar where the treasure box was located. After some time, it was silent. In the midst of the dark, a black shadow with Miss Glitter's treasure box in his or her hand, appeared on the roof. When the girls saw it, they rushed into the cellar and tried to catch him or her. However, he or she had already jumped over the fence and disappeared in the dark. Instead, they found a note, it said:

Master Bud,

I have already stolen the treasure box.

'Master Bud is my father, I know he wouldn't do such a thing!' wailed Tink, 'and I won't do this kind of thing either,' she added.

'We can't let Miss Glitter to read this note, or not....' before Sarah had a chance to finish, May and Amy exclaimed.

'Or not she'll be sent to prison!' Tink looked thoughtful for a moment. Then she said, 'you guys come to my house tomorrow, and we'll talk about it.'

That night, none of the girls could sleep, especially Tink, who had a billion questions in her mind, 'Did my dad do such a thing? Are we going to be sent to prison? Who was that black shadow? What can we do.....'

Suddenly, a hand grabbed her. She was scared half out of her wits. Then a voice said, 'Here we are! We found an envelope at Miss Glitter's house,' May and Amy had come to comfort Tink.

'An envelope?' said Tink, curiously. 'Well, I don't think I've seen this type of envelope.'

'I think it is the type of envelope that only postman uses,' said May, wisely.

'Well then, let's list down those people who we suspect,' said Amy and Tink.

'Miss Lydia, Mr. Glue, Mr. Wobble, Mrs. Cobra and Mr. Sun,' murmured May, as she wrote the names down.

'Mr. Sun! But he's such a good man,' cried Amy, unhappily.

'Let's meet at Kitten Street instead of your house,' May said to Tink solemnly.

Suddenly, a shadow jumped in from the window. The girls froze. Then they heard Rebecca's voice, 'I want to have a talk with you guys.'

So Amy and Tink told her about the suspected list.

' I think you can cross out Mrs. Cobra's name, because she make a lot of noise when she walks,' said Rebecca, giggling.

'And Mr. Wobble too!' cried Tink, 'his house is that full of gold that he can't open his window without tripping over his own gold ten times!'

So May crossed out Mrs. Cobra and Mr. Wobble's names.

'But I don't understand why we cross out Mrs. Cobra's name, ' said Amy, confused.

'It is because she can't steal the treasure box without waking up Miss Glitter,' replied Rebecca. Everyone laughed.

'We have to go, or not we will get into an awful row,' said May. Then the girls said goodbye to Tink, and crept back to their home.

The next day, May and Amy woke up late and they were scolded by their mother. Then they remembered to meet their friends at Kitten Street, so they ran faster than the wind to Kitten Street. When they met, they made their plans. First, they went to Santa Street to find Mr. Sun. However, he said he didn't even know where Miss Glitter's treasure box had gone.

'Weird,' thought Sarah.

Next they went to Prollo Street to find Miss Lydia, and found out that she couldn't even put her kitten in her house because it was too small. After that, they went to Music Street to find Mr. Glue. He looked grumpy and unfriendly when the five girls came, so they suspected him more than ever. After walking for so long, the five friends went to Sarah's house to have a rest. On their way to Sarah's house, they met Mr. Sun. He gave them a strange look and walked away quickly.

'There's something really weird about Mr. Sun,' Amy said, in a whisper.

At Sarah's house, Tink insisted to cross out Miss Lydia's name because her house was too small, so May crossed her name out.
Then Tink said, 'There are only two people to suspect, Mr Sun and Mr. Glue, who is the thief?'

'Well, Mr. Sun always buys a newspaper to read, so that he should read about the news of the missing treasure box? ' asked May.

'I don't think we should suspect Mr. Glue, because he looks unfriendly all the time, even when he is happy,' said Sarah.

'Mr. Sun is the thief!' the five friends shouted together.

Then they reported the mystery to the policeman, Mr Starfish, so Mr. Sun was arrested.

The mystery of the missing treasure box was solved, and Miss Glitter's treasure box was found in a wrapped up parcel.. After the treasure box was found, Sarah, Rebecca and Tink went back to their work. You could consult these Five-Mystery solvers: Amy, May, Rebbecca, Sarah and Tink when you have any mystery to solve.
(April 2009)

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Terrible Triplets

By Andrea, 13, USA

There were once three sisters that weren't exactly certain how they got their nickname. It was very rotten and downright nasty. Who would give a nickname so rude, the Terrible Triplets.

Janelle, Tiara, and Holly were in their secret hideout, outside in their backyard. The girls were under their favorite group of pine trees, left to their garage. Since it was the middle of fall, the bristles had fallen to the ground, forming a messy pile. Tiara was sitting on top of a big rock that the girls had moved into the hideout to use as a couch. These meetings were usually just for hanging out and having loads of fun. But not today. The triplets were determined to find out how they ended up with this rude nickname.

'We need a plan,' Holly stated.

'Tiara, you can be in charge of gathering information from Mom and Dad. Janelle, your hands are in control of the rest of the family and the neighbors. I'll be responsible for our peers. Is that alright with you girls?'

Even though Holly truly meant for the question to be a question but the words spat out like she was being bossy.

Holly questioned the boys at school the next day. Oh my gosh, I'm so pathetic, asking boys for answers, Holly thought. Well, I need to find out how Janelle, Holly and I got our cursed nickname.

'Hey Alec,' Holly announced.

As she explained her situation, Alec nodded.

'I can solve all your problems. First I need ten bucks.'

Holly searched inside her pockets.

'I only have three mints,' Holly stated.

'Close enough,' mumbled Alec, 'so you see, your mother got eaten by a hippo before she had triplets which was terrible.'

'Oh my gosh Alec, that didn't make sense. You were no help at all!'

'You're very welcome,' Alec teased. BOYS!

Janelle was wearing her favorite sun dress when she got off her bike and arrived at her Grandma's house. There was an awful putrid aroma seeping through the house. Grandma must be making refried beans, Janelle thought.

'Oh Nellie, Nellie!' Granny smiled. 'Do you want to stay for taco night?'

'Sure Nana.'

An hour later taco night was chaos. Janelle's Aunt Bethany and Uncle Ean came over with their two year old twins, Blake and Blane. Of course, Blane refused to eat tacos and demanded spaghetti. Unfortunately, when Blane didn't get what he wanted, it backfired on Janelle. Blane scooped his tiny fingers into the taco meat and chucked it across the dining table and straight into Janelle's black, glossy hair.

'Nellie look funny!' shouted Blake.

Anger erupted from Janelle's ears.

'EEEEWWW!' Janelle screamed.

After Janelle washed her hair with emergency shampoo, she tiptoed back into the dining room. Janelle was amazingly surprised at what she was looking at. The whole kitchen was flooded with food. Broccoli had been thrown onto the soft green carpet, meat stained the hardwood floor. A soft shell dangled from the crystal chandelier. Hard shells were crunched into carpet. The kitchen was a disaster but every food covered person was smiling and laughing like hyenas. You can't pick your family so you might as well make the best of it, thought Janelle.

Tiara was the Terrible Triplets last hope. If anyone could convince the triplet's parents to let them in on a a family legend it would be Tiara.

'Hey mom,' Tiara called casually.

'What's new in the his-house?' Tiara's mom, asked.

'Mom, please never attempt to say slang words ever again for the sake of your children. I was wondering, do you know the nickname I share with my sisters?' Tiara questioned.

'The te..'

'Don't even say it!' Tiara interrupted her mother quickly.

'Okay sweetie. You may continue,' Tiara's mom replied with a puzzled look in her eyes.

'I have always wondered, how did we get that hideous name?'

'Oh honey,' Tiara's mom, started.

'Your great-grand responsible for that one. I've told you he was a triplet.'

'How did they get there nickname?' Tiara wondered aloud.

'They were boys!'

Both Tiara and her mother burst out into hysterics.
(March 2009)

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Poisonous Palace

By Roisin, 9, Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

There is an old mansion near our estate that is supposed to be haunted. One morning myself and my best friend Niamh decided to check it out. As we approached the mansion we started to get scared as there was a cloak of mist surrounding it. All of a sudden a tall graceful girl stepped out of the mist. She had long blond hair and cornflower blue eyes. I clung to Niamh shaking with fright.

'Do not be afraid,' she called in a soft calm voice, with a beautiful Welsh lilt.

'Who are you?' I asked, still shaking with fright.

'I am Andriana of the Welsh mountains,' she answered in her Welsh lilt, 'and I am here to help you with your mission.'

'What mission?' asked Niamh.

'The mission to find the golden goblet for the great Queen Lily, of course,' she replied, impatiently.

'Well we are on,' I answered quickly, before Niamh could object.

'Before we head off, tell me your names,' ordered Andriana and pointed to me.

'Well my name is Ruby and her name is Niamh,' I replied, pointing to Niamh.

'Ok, what are you waiting for the grass to grow? Come on!' shouted Andriana.

So off we went through the spooky mist and into the haunted mansion that had started it all. In through the dark spooky hall until we reached an abrupt end where we saw - a dragon!

'Aaaaah,' Niamh and I screamed in a duet.

'What do you want?' questioned Andriana bravely.

'You!' hissed the dragon in a threatening way, while flapping it's wings.

'Run!' I screamed, in a hoarse voice noticing a gap between the dragons legs.

At my command everyone started to run! We ran and ran and ran until we reached a dark gloomy corridor where we stopped to have a break.

'I'll just look at my map to see how close we are to the goblet,' panted Andriana, taking out a rather old looking map.

'Ok, what are we waiting for?' I called, excitedly, my breath fully restored now. 'Let's go!'

I hurried up the corridor and stopped not knowing where to go.

'Come on guys,' I called, turning around and seeing Niamh and Andriana hurrying to keep up with me.

'Where do we go next?' I asked Andriana.

'Ok, through this door and turn right..' and then - Adriana's directions were cut off short when we saw a giant spider staring at us with it's eight eyes.

I opened my mouth to scream but then found I couldn't. I was rigid and still as a stone.

'Come on, through this bookcase,' shouted Niamh, opening a bookcase and running through, Andriana at her heels.

'Come on, Ruby,' shouted Niamh.

Finally, I awoke from my stillness and ran through the bookcase, closing it carefully behind us. As soon as we were safe inside, we saw yet another giant spider! Giving me no time to scream, Andriana pushed me through a great metal door. After that all we did was run and run and run. Finally we reached a small dark room where we rested for a while.

'I'm so hungry,' moaned Niamh.

'Lucky I'm all packed with food,'said Andriana, taking out a fruitcake and sharing it out and then getting a large jug of lemonade and sharing it out.

'I am ready to continue if you are,' said Niamh.

'Yes, I'm ready,' said Andriana and I together.

So off we went hurrying here and there until we met a horrible sight, a big giant wolfhound with saliva dripping from it's fangs and staring at us out of it's bloodshot eyes.

'Don't move,' whispered Andriana, placing her on me.

Well, that was easy for her to say, she's not the one who is living their worst nightmare I thought, despairing quietly and preparing to die a slow and painful death. I made a move to dart for it but thought better of it. We waited and waited until the wolfhound calmly walked away.

'H-h-how did that happen,' I stuttered, in amazement.

'Easy, we all looked like statues,' answered Andriana scornfully.

'Especially you,' added Niamh.

'Oh, come on, I haven't come here to listen to girlie's chat and argue,' said a voice, behind them.

All three of us whirled around together to face on an evil looking man with a pale face and dark hair, black tunnel-like eyes and pearl white fangs stained with blood.

'A vampire!' exclaimed Niamh, fright showing clearly in her eyes.

'What will we do Adriana?' I wondered.

But here was no answer, I looked around but I still couldn't see her.

'Your little friend is gone,' snarled the vampire.

'Where is she?' confronted Niamh.

'I don't know,' admitted the vampire, who told us his name was Vlad.

'But that's not the point, the point is I've caught my dinner,' continued Vlad, cackling loudly.

'Over here,' hissed a voice, that sounded like it was coming under the floorboards!

'Who is that?' I whispered back, a tiny bit scared.

'It's just me, Andriana,' Andriana answered, quickly.

'Now, you just have to distract Vlad so that I can get you away from him,' directed Andriana.

'What's so interesting, slave?' snarled Vlad.

'Nothing, Master Vlad,' we replied, quickly.

'Oh yes, look, a rescue plane,' distracted Niamh, in a stage whisper.

Vlad turned to look at the sky.

'Now!' I whispered to Andriana.

Quickly Andriana appeared out of nowhere. She whisked us together, said a few words and 'Kaboom' we were gone!

'W-what happened?' I stuttered, in wonder.

'No questions,' replied Andriana briskly, 'just wait and see what I've found.....' she said.

'Have you found the golden goblet?' asked Niamh excitedly, jumbling all her words together.

'No, but almost as good, I've found the treasure room,' she replied, excitedly.

'Wow,' Niamh and I exclaimed, giving each other high fives.

'All we have to do now is find the golden goblet,' shouted Andriana.

We went into the big room. I was astonished by it's sight. It was a big golden room, everything was either golden or jeweled.

'I see a goblet,' exclaimed Niamh, 'is this the one?'

'No,' answered Andriana, throwing a glance at the goblet Niamh was showing her. We searched and searched for the goblet until I found the most glorious goblet I had ever seen.

'Is this the one?' I whispered in delight.

Andriana threw a glance at the goblet expecting to say no but instead she said a soft sad yes.

'We found it!',Niamh shouted, in delight.

She turned to look at us and noticed our mournful faces.

'We have to say goodbye to Andriana,' I explained, unhappily.

'I have to present this to Queen Lily, don't worry you will get a reward,' Andriana continued, sadly.

'Goodbye, Andriana!' Niamh and I shouted.

'Goodbye, goodbye,' called Andriana.

In a click of her fingers, she disappeared! But you could still hear her goodbyes echoing in the room.
(February 2009)

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Squares And Triangles

By Olivia, 13, Bowral, New South Wales , Australia

In a world of no reflection, there peacefully lived the happy squares and triangles. No one knew what he or she looked like as mirrors and any other form of reflection were banned, but above all there was a seven 'o'clock curfew. Because of these rules, little squares and triangles played together, while adults gossiped about each other and males worked together. The town of Imagia was a happy place.

However, one night, Full Moon to be exact, two adventurous teenagers, Miss Square and Miss Triangle, snuck out of their homes after curfew and met at the Children's Park. They waited until the moon was up before they began their mission. They walked along the dark streets and climbed the tall trees, then they went back to the park and settled on top of the highest turret so they had a magnificent view of the land. It is on this turret that our story begins.

Miss Square was talking about a dress she fancied, when a dim glow erupted in the distance. Miss Triangle immediately suggested that they should go and investigate the source of the mysterious glow. After twenty minutes, trekking in the wilderness, they reached a clearing. In the middle was a large round pool full of crystal clear water. The moon was shining directly down on it making it the source of the glow. Curiously, Miss Sqaure and Miss Triangle peered into the pool only to see another square and triangle staring back at them. They jumped back, shocked at what they saw. Again, they looked into the pool, this time, Miss Triangle stretched out her hand and touched it. She immediately pulled her hand away. They stared into the pool once more, amazed at what they saw, and wondered, Could it be? Could the shocked figures in the water be a reflection of themselves? They were right. They had found the 'Pool Of Reflection'.

Miss Triangle began to brag about how beautiful she was, but Miss Square interrupted and said that she was, by far, the most stunning. The two once best friends, quarrelled all the way back to town, and woke up the slumbering citizens. The citizens, while rubbing their sleepy eyes, asked what was wrong and Miss Square recounted their journey including the moment she saw how beautiful she was. Everyone was amazed about their story and went to investigate themselves. Soon, everyone was gazing at himself or herself in the 'Pool Of Reflection'.

Meanwhile, the Mayor was scared, he had known about the pool and set a curfew so that it was impossible for anyone to see themselves. Now he was afraid that the quarrelling of the citizens would corrupt the peaceful town. Unfortunately, he was right. The citizens soon realised that they looked different. Half squares, half triangles,and they decided that they only wanted to socialise with people that they looked like. So Imagia split into two, divided by pride and vanity. Triangles moved to the East and Squares moved to the West. No one was talking, instead they were throwing disgusted looks, the streets were deserted, and the Children's Park was for once, quiet.

Days and nights past, and the squares and triangles still bragged about their beauty. The Mayor knew that pride and vanity had swallowed the town, and he thought that there was no way back, to restore the town to its original, peaceful state. But he was wrong.

One day, Full Moon to be exact, a Square woke up from her afternoon nap and screamed. Her young children were missing. She ran outside and was met by the cries of other parents. All, of the children were missing. The Square stood on top of a stump, and accused their once friends, the triangles of this terrible kidnapping. But in the East, the triangles were accusing the squares. Where were all the children?

Furious, squares and triangles marched to the street that separated the East and the West, and soon a fight broke out. But this was not a fight of swords and shields, but names and insults. The streets became a battlefield. This could have gone for days, but a wise old square shouted over the top of everyone in a shocked voice, and pointed in the direction of the Children's Park. There, hand in hand, square and triangle, were all the children. Mrs Square ran over to the park and grabbed her youngest by the hand. She asked him sweetly, but still trembling with anger, why he was playing with the triangles.

The little one looked up at his outraged mother, innocently, smiled and said, 'Because they're my friends.'

A murmur erupted, squares and triangles were whispering to each other about what the young Square had said. Some throwing disgusted looks, other just staring at the ground, their minds ticking over what they had heard.

The adults soon realised, that for many centuries, squares and triangles lived peacefully together, even though they looked different. The all began to ask the same question. Can we live peacefully now even though we look different? This was answered by the young Square. Yes.
(January 2009)

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Bridge of Immortal Blood

By Emily, 11, AZ, USA

Zalia sat on the roof examining the city. She was daughter of the leader, at least of her race. The building was tall, but Zalia prepared to jump down. Her arms were spread out. On the ground now, Zalia was on her knees. No bruises. Her father was Vlad Dracula the Third.

Extra pale skin, pitch black hair, and the layered black cape showed a vampire's importance. As Zalia walked through the city, everyone stood to the side. Everyone but a man in a hooded cape. The leader of all witches. Korton.

In the meeting room were 4 leaders and 3 representatives. Vlad Dracula the Third and Zalia for the vampires. The man in the hooded cape, Korton, and his son, Bazar, for the witches. The slightly too attractive woman, Lasheena, and her husband, Cardosh, for the shapeshifters. Only one young man for the werewolves. Armishire.

Zalia, Bazar, and Armishire were the youngest ones. They all had appearances of 19 year olds.

Zalia stood up and declared, 'Tomorrow I will lower the bridge. The first human in our city for 25 years.'

Lasheena held a bottle.'It is my honor to present the dice of the dark to the werewolves. It is their turn now.'

As the bottle opened, the others dark eyes grew in hunger. Lasheena settled them down and they obeyed, as the shapeshifters were the strongest in their community.

When the dice appeared on Armishire's hands, he saw a glow of gray light, which blinded some. The dice dissolved in Armishire's hands, only to leave the power inside his body. Armishire was still no threat to other races. They would just have to take a longer time to kill the human. Of course, all the citizens of Darkdescent honored the laws and rules that hadn't been broken in over 6 million years.

It was night when Desiree got to the gates. Once she passed the bridge, she was greeted by a girl who seemed to have trouble speaking.

'Hi! I'm Zalia. Since you're here, I'll introduce you to your new guide.'

Zalia's steps seemed to move awkwardly, as if she were trying to walk at a different pace. At the end of the block was some brunette guy. His eyes were like a cat's and he looked down as if he were concentrating. Zalia left.

The guy looked up, 'Armishire.'

'Desiree. Do you ever sleep here? It seems like everywhere I go lights are off but they're staring.'

Armishire laughed, 'I'll explain on our tour. And your name...Desiree...as in desire...'

Desiree walked with Armishire. The city had no bright lights and was cold, even though it was Spring.

'Listen, I was lost on my way here. I'm not planning on staying.'

'I know. But you will anyway.'

Around the corner was a bakery.

'Desiree, don't go in any building unless I approve it. It's dangerous.'

'What about Zalia? What is this place? Why am I even trusting you?' Desiree asked.

Amishire put his gloved hand on Desiree's mouth.

'Believe me on this. This city is called Darkdescent. Think about it. Zalia...she's royalty. She is the vampire leader's daughter.'

Desiree froze. She noticed Armishire's hand on her shoulder, calming her down.'What are you?'

'Werewolf. The leader.'

The moon was full when Desiree looked up. 'Why aren't you changing? Why am I going to stay?'

'I change at 9 o'clock every night. We're the weakest creatures. The bridge goes up after every human passes. This city has no light. We can't go anywhere else or we'll die. If you drive, you'll go in one big circle.'

'Are you the only ones?' Desiree asked.

'Shapeshifters are strongest. They can be anything, even things that don't exist. Witches can put any curse on you. Not just out of the book like your stories say. Vampires can suck blood out of any of us, but we're still immortal. We can only be powerful at 9 o'clock,' Armishire explained.

Desiree looked at her watch, 'It's 8:59.'

Armishire's eyes widened.

'Run to the next building with yellow eyes on it. Stay away. Go inside and I'll be there once it's over. I don't want to hurt humans.'

Desiree was scared and didn't feel safe on her own. She heard howling outside and a scratch on the door. Desiree looked out the eyehole. A werewolf attacked a witch. The witch was replaced by a vampire. The fanged vampire opened its mouth and bit down. The wolf howled again.

Korton and Bazar stood in the dark and beautifully carved witch's hall. They looked into the large diamond sphere. Their clawed fingers scraped the edge, next to the clawed stone arm under the sphere. Together they saw a girl's image. Beautiful and desirable. Blood for the vampires, flesh for the werewolves, organs and eyeballs for the witches, the rest for the shapeshifters.

Lasheena and Cordosh sat in the glass shapeshifters thrones. The other shapeshifters listened respectfully. The great image pool showed Armishire. Everything but his face was covered. They heard a door open. Armishire was in his house covered up with dark clothes again. He couldn't hurt the girl with all that clothing on.

Vlad Dracula the Third led Zalia into the icy cold den for vampires. The mirrors wouldn't show a vampire's reflection. They showed the others. The girl was outside with Armishire. Up ahead was the forest. Where all the kills were made.

Armishire saw the silver neckalace on Desiree's neck. He carefully avoided it and said, 'Just don't touch my skin. I have to explain this. Zalia didn't keep you for herself because it was my dice. The dice dissolve inside the holder. I have the power to kill you with one touch.'

'I don't think you'll do that. You wouldn't have saved me,' said Desiree, 'if it's too warm take off your gloves and jacket.'

Armishire ignored Desiree. He turned away from the forest and went through the back door of a restaurant called 'Wolves'. A friend of Armishire's greeted him. He whispered, 'That the human?'

Armishire nodded. His friend spoke up and took a chair to take a break from his job.

'I'm Morphinch. I don't kill either. Anyone who comes to Wolves doesn't believe in death, except in some unusual cases of course. This is the only free building in the city so we don't fight others in here. They're allowed to come. We can kick out anyone who wants death.'

Lasheena was wearing a disguise, along with Zalia. They were spying on Armishire since Zalia and her father believed they were going to the forest. Obviously, the girl wasn't going to die in Armishire's hands. Everyone in the restaurant never reported him. The darkness seemed to blind the girl from seeing clearly, although it was the brightest time of the day.

'I'm Desiree. I'm just wondering how they make those gray lights. Those are the only places I can see and vampires can't go there.'

'It's the same way they make your types,' explained Morphinch. 'It's silly you'd ask that. The werewolves at Wolves started it.'

'Half of the people missing in the world were taken by us. You're the wolves' first dice in a long time,' said Armishire.

Armishire heard hissing behind him. He turned. A vampire about his age waved at him. She was next to a lady who was turned, 'I overheard you talk. I think it's great.'

The vampire sat on Morphinch's seat when he went back to work.

'You're Armishire, right? Leader of the wolves? I thought all leaders killed,' said the mysterious vampire.

'Well you thought wrong. Last time I didn't get caught, the other times I didn't get caught. Just hope I don't ever get caught.'

'On one condition.'

The vampire took hold of Armishire's face with her sharp claws. Claws of a devil. Claws of a leader. Zalia. It was all a trick. Armishire tried pulling back, but that made Zalia's grip even harder. Zalia leaned over and bit Armishire's lip. She released her fangs and started sucking blood out. Now some of the other customers attacked Zalia. She left with Lasheena and left with the others.

Armishire fell back. He didn't move at all. Morphinch looked at his leader's face.

'He's paler than he's supposed to be. Zalia was trying to kill him. Killing him as in leaving him alive but making all his blood sucked out.'

A witch stood from the back table.

'I have a degree for doctors.' The witch examined the bite,'I know you all think we use all spells but there's no way to lift venom or stop immortality.'

The werewolves gathered around their unconsious leader. Armishire halfway sat up, holding a chair for support. He faced Desiree.

'Stay with one of the shapeshifters here at times when I change to avoid attacks. They can protect you. Only werewolves can't.' Armishire's head fell back again, only halfway conscious.

Armishire woke up in the streets. It was past 9 o'clock now. He couldn't resist the hunger to fight. He ran and dug his claws into a witch's back. Morphinch was shoving a shapeshifter into the window of Wolves. The window broke.

No werewolf could resist hunger at night. Armishire, Morphinch, and a couple of others jumped in. Most of the people stayed at the second story, vampires flying in their bat form and shapeshifters just flying. Some stayed to fight.

Desiree hid in a closet. Still, a werewolf broke inside. Desiree looked at the eyes on the claws. Armishire's design. He opened his mouth to reveal the fangs that grew inside, although he couldn't change his form into a bat. Armishire pounced onto the clothes in the closet. One touch of his skin would kill Desiree. He didn't use his body. He cut Desiree's back with his fingernails. Desiree screamed in pain. Morphinch jumped in and pulled Armishire. He felt the coldness on Desiree's neck. He jumped back quickly, not defending himself. Armishire was stronger, as the leader. He dug into his friend's back.

Desiree climbed out of the closet at morning time. There were cries outside. Morphinch was yelling as the witch doctor stitched his back. The witch looked at Desiree's necklace.

'He almost died because of that. In addition to Armishire's clawing, he felt your necklace. Silver stops a werewolf's breathing for 3 minutes, just like a stake to a vampire.'

Armishire stood in the doorway. His clothes were ripped up and there was a scratch on his right eye. He walked to Desiree and ran his gloved hands on Desiree's scarred back.

'Almost killed both of you. The fighters didn't have any real injuries. No deaths, thankfully.'

'You didn't kill me,' answered Desiree.

They walked away from Morphinch and the doctor, to the empty dining room. The store was closed except for the two of them, the doctor, and the staff.

'As much as I want to ki--nevermind.'

Armishire put his hand on Desiree's arm and led her outside, 'What were you going to say, Armishire? Kill me?'

'No. Nothing.'

'If I'm going to trust you, you're gonna have to tell me what goes on,' said Desiree as she flipped her red hair back.

'I'll tell you the story,' Armishire said, 'hell was real. All of us lived there. No demons, no devils. The ground cracked and this city was made. That is how most of the higher level relatives died. From the fire underground, which was the only thing to make us die at all. Dracula didn't die from stakes or anything. Our city was secretive, and it still is today. It was messy and there were fights everyday. Lasheena made the 13 laws to stop deaths of our kind. She assigned the leaders. My father was a leader but a mortal tricked him to the other side of the bridge. They let me stay as a leader alone because of my fighting instincts. Clipping backs. They didn't know how many humans I helped. The forest is where most of the wolves make kills but way back is where the humans lived. You're our first dice in over 100 years. Some humans came in families but they had to go back there and couldn't stay. I don't want you to go. I can protect you.'

'As much as I want to...' Armshire put his clothed arm on Desiree's shoulder. 'Please. Just forget it.'

Desiree took off her necklace and buried it deep in the ground. They looked up. Korton and Bazar were up ahead. They smiled and Bazar lifted a finger.

'The fire's back, Armishire.'

Armishire ran behind Bazar and bit his neck with his new fangs. He pushed Bazar into the fire.

'Go to hell.'

Bazar screamed as he burned. The fight was between Armishire and Korton. The witches backed Korton while the people at Wolves backed Armishire. Morphinch led Desiree to the back as the two teams battled.

Lasheena appeared. 'Do I hear a battle? Pick your teams wisely, Armishire picks first. Everyone but the outsider fights. 20 per team.'

'Doctor for outsider. If I win, take the dice out and destroy them.'

'Ms. Doctor for outsider. If I when, I get a hold of the girl.'

Armishire had the doctor, 10 shapeshifters, 5 witches, and 4 vampires. He was the weakest one since it wasn't 9 o'clock yet. Korton took the girl doctor, 9 witches, 4 shapeshifters, 4 vampires, Morphinch, and Desiree. Korton had told the doctor not to cure Morphinch or Desiree if they were hurt. Armishire's doctor couldn't do anything to anyone on the other side. Of course, Korton gave away all his hell fire to Bazar.

'And the fight is on,' declared Lasheena.

Morphinch and Desiree were forced to fight. They were both helpless. A shapeshifter in the form of a morphed werewolf ran up beside Armishire.

'Stay behind me or you'll be in pain for the rest of your life.'

5 other shapeshifters helped. They clawed 4 witches all of them still had good instincts from the battle 500 years ago. They clawed more witches first and went for a shapeshifter. Armishire found himself on top of one of them. The 5 went for Korton. Korton was down, so was Armishire. He fell off a shapeshifter when they went up, but Korton was more badly hurt.

Lasheena stood from her seat and sighed, 'Armishire is declared the winner.'

The leader took a witch's form and raised her hand. It looked like she was scanning Armishire. Pieces of dissolved dice appeared in the bottle.

'You do understand that next time it's your dice you have to take them.'

Armishire nodded, 'You're the leader. Is there a way to stop immortality, stop being a werewolf?'

'There is a way for everything.'

Lasheena left to go back to her throne. The doctor and Armishire walked to the fallen. To Morphinch and Desiree, ignoring the other bodies, even two small 11 year olds. It looked as if Desiree had been stabbed everywhere and Morphinch was a dead mortal human.

'Is it safe to go to her?' Armishire asked the doctor.

'A leader keeps his or her word,' he answered. 'It couldn't be a trick.'

Armishire leaned over and held Desiree up. The doctor took a sewing needle and stitched Morphinch's back again.

'We're going to find a way out of here.'

'I thought werewolves couldn't go anywhere out of the bridge.'

'It's all the bridge's fault. Lasheena said there's a way for me to be human.'

Armishire looked at the blood that got on his clothes from Desiree. He leaned over to Desiree, 'I've never tried this with a human.'

Desiree held his hand and they kissed. Armishire screamed in pain and they fell. He heard Zalia's voice talking to Desiree. '

It's all your fault. That's why it's against the rules.'

The world was back. A different world. He was sleeping on a bed. Not his own, a soft one. Armishire opened his eyes. It was bright. Two figures stood beside his bed, a man and a woman.

'Who are you?' asked Armishire.

'Mr. and Mrs. McKarden,' they said. 'The other girl found you on the streets with blood all over your clothes. We'll leave you for a minute so you can rest.'

Armishire looked in a mirror. His eyes were gray and his skin wasn't as pale as it was before. Out the window was a girl waving.

'Once a witch, always a witch. That girl was just a single fix.'

Zalia. She also had gray eyes. She was dressed like a human and so was he. Armishire walked out of the house to see Zalia and Morphinch standing on the street. Morphinch was still stitched up.

'You know, the news is talking. We're human. We landed on this city and all the werewolves have the same blood, all of the vampires. They're at the beach,' Morphinch said.

The ground wasn't cold like Darkdescent. It was sandy and wet. Armishire saw all of the leaders. There were also some regular humans staring. Lasheena and Cardosh were overlooking all of the citizens of Darkdescent. Lasheena's eyes landed on Armishire.

'Where is she?'

Shrugging, Armishire looked around. He tugged on Morphinch's shirt and they looked around the large beach.

Desiree turned around. She was in the car with her three best friends. Chase, Jane, and Nift. There were two guys, one year older than her, yelling her name. They were one of them. Their gray eyes and bloody clothing proved it.

'Do I know you?' Desiree asked.

The taller of the two whispered, 'I was leader of the wolves.'

'What are you talking about?'

Chase jumped up from the backseat, 'Is this some sort of trick all of you are pulling?'

Armishire ignored him. He reached in and brushed Desiree's hair. Her eyes seemed lost. Zalia walked up behind them.

'Desiree, remember? I told you it was all your fault that we're here.'

'Are you hypnotizing her?' Nift asked, from the driver's seat.

'No,' said Zalia. She handed Desiree a phone,'it's yours. I took it from you when we walked from the bridge, during your Spring vacation.'

'How'd you get this?' Desiree asked, 'I was going to my parent's house during my vacation.'

'Do you even remember reaching it?' Armishire asked. He kissed Desiree for the second time.'It's desire.'

They left the car.

'Wait! Is this yours?'

Desiree handed Armishire a bottle. The dice.

'Do you remember now?'

'Yes. All of your names. How did you...?'

'Zalia always said,' Morphinch answered, 'a kiss is the worst fix.'

'Can we go back?'

Lasheena's voice entered her mind.

'There is a way for everything.'

For a second, the whole world stopped moving. Jane was beside them now, with Chase and Nift following.

'What was that?'

'Run!' Cardosh yelled. 'The hellfire's coming back!'
(January 2009)

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The Taste of Tears

By Alex, 11, Glenshaw, PA, USA

Lily gasped for air. Choking, she struggled towards the sandy shoreline. But each time she managed to pull forward, the beach seemed to move farther away. Her teeth chattered uncontrollably, and her cheeks were tinted with a faint bluish color. A wave forced Lily under. She fought her way back up to the surface. Finally, her head broke through. Water droplets rolled off her face, silently falling back into the ocean. The dark, bottomless ocean. A soft, slimy fish brushed the bottom of Lily's foot, making her squeal. Another wave tumbled towards Lily. It crashed overhead. She sputtered, spitting out the salty ocean water. Everything was happening so fast. Lily searched the vast sea in vain, hoping to find a boat, a raft, anything! Then a huge wave - the biggest Lily had ever seen - came surging towards her. Lily shrieked. She kicked and flailed her arms, but her attempts at escaping failed . . .

Lily sat straight up in bed. She slowly raised her hand to her face. It was damp with sweat.

'I'm okay. I'm okay,' she told herself.

She sucked in a shaky breath and forced her racing heart to return to it's normal pace. Lily had been having nightmares for the last two weeks. She glanced over at the window. Grimy sunlight filtered through. A light drizzle misted the beach below. It wasn't a beautiful day, but considering that she was at Hebe's Beach, it was probably the best one that Lily had experienced so far. She shook her head, trying to clear the dream from her mind. But Lily could never get rid off the memory. Not really. The ocean had changed her life forever.

One moment, they were wading in the water, smiling and waving for their only daughter to come join them. The next, they had disappeared from view. A choked sob escaped from Lily's throat. She hadn't thought about her parents at all since the drowning. Everything that had happened was just a jumbled up blur in the back of Lily's mind. The lifeguards trying to find them, people crying. . .

Then Grandma and Grandpa had come, whisked Lily away and plopped her down in their home in The Middle of Nowhere, otherwise known as Hebe's Natural Beach Resort.

'Lil, honey! You awake?' Grandma's plump figure appeared in the doorway, 'come on, slowpoke! Get into your bathing suit, and we can wade in the water, or maybe even swim a little.'

Tears welled up in Lily's eyes. How could Grandma be so. . .so senseless! So uncaring! Didn't she know that the water had hurt Lily? It's gentle currents had once flowed through Lily's very veins. Swimming had been her second nature. But then the water had grown rougher, crashing into her heart, tearing it to pieces. Lily turned her face away. She couldn't bear to look at her grandma's smile. Her big, goofy smile. She was acting like nothing had happened. But something had happened. And Lily wasn't ready to accept the facts. Not yet. They weren't really gone. They weren't! They couldn't be. Lily's tears slowly leaked out. They dripped down her cheeks. She didn't bother to wipe them away.

'Lily, sweetie,' Grandma sat down on Lily's bed. A slow tear trickled down Grandma's rosy cheek. 'I know it's hard. It. . .it's for me, too.'

Grandma's voice was full of concern and sympathy. But Lily didn't want concern, or even sympathy. She wanted her mother and father.

'No, NO!' she shrieked.

She pushed Grandma's arm away, and blindly ran down the winding staircase. She tripped, and went sprawling on the ground at the foot of the stairs.

'Lily! Lily! Wait, please!' Lily pushed herself up. She just wanted to be alone.

The rain greeted Lily as she burst through the door. It had gotten worse since that morning, and it's sharpness surprised her. The raindrops pierced her skin, but she kept going. Her toes dug into the moist sand, leaving tracks.

'Lily! Come back, Lily! We can talk abut this!'

Grandma's voice sounded distant, muffled by the pounding rain. But Lily didn't stop. She hurried on through the storm, wrapping her arms around her head to soften the rain's harsh blow.

Before Lily knew what was happening, she was waist-deep in the salty ocean water. She gasped, and her knees buckled. Lily closed her eyes, and for a minute she was afraid that she was going to faint. She just stood there, letting the waves gently lap at her legs. A crab scuttled over Lily's toe, but she didn't flinch. Lily's head spun in slow circles and her eyes became cloudy, remembering. She could feel her mother's spirit, and she could hear father's laugh. She could see her mother's smile, and she could smell her father's pipe. But most of all, Lily could taste their love. It was mixed with the aftertaste of her salty tear. She opened her mouth and gulped in large breaths of ocean air, screaming with the sheer joy of it. And she knew that she was never alone.
(January 2009)

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The Rhythm of the Guitar

By Kaitelyn, 12, MA, USA

Your heart races as the rhythm of the guitar reaches your soul. You play swiftly and smoothly, as your hand strums faster and faster until it reaches the end of the song. When the song ends you want to play more because of the feeling you get when you play.

The guitar is like your voice, your strumming hand is the musician that leads everyone into song. At that moment you feel free as if everything has stopped and started again in a different beat.

All of a sudden something hits you. Musical notes play in your head. As the song comes to an end a feeling of accompishment fills your heart with joy. Then you stop, leaving your instrument waiting for you to play again.
(January 2009)

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A Choice

By Jessica Power, 16, CA, USA

The sun hid behind the bleakness of the gathering clouds. A thunderous noise echoed through the timbers surrounding me. Salty tears rolled down my cheeks. Lighting flashed in the sky and rain started to fall.

My thick brown hair enveloped my freckled face. Rain drops rolled down the back of my neck. The rain felt surprisingly warm for this time of year. The wind seemed to moan as if feeling the pain I felt inside. My clothes clung to my pale skin like a child to her mother. I did not want to fight this battle anymore. The skies cried with me as I sat on bended knees.

Though I had lived in the same small town my entire life, I remained friendless. I was cast aside as though invincible. My mother had been dead for five years and my father, broken by his loss, threw his heart into his work. I stood alone in a sea of people tearing at my soul for being who I was. No one recognized me as I really was; a girl broken hearted, shattered by my loss, and torn by my pain. I lost the fight long ago, and my heart had had enough.

I walked through prison walls lined with silver lockers, clutching my bag within my small hands. Why do they all point and laugh as I pass? I tried to dodge their disapproving glances and fight back the tears. All eyes turned from me and a hush fell upon the crowd. I stopped, until footsteps came from behind me. I ran from them. I pushed my way through the students and out to the back of the school.

Tears fell and the cold fall air brushed against my face as I ran toward the empty football field. I sat down in the middle of the field with the cool grass beneath my now bare feet. I did not care that I was late to my next class when I finally trudged back inside.

Bling, Bling, Bling the final bell of the day rang interrupting my reverie. All eyes turned on me as I quickly stumbled out the door. My small sandaled feet caught on the lip of the door frame; I fell forward. An arm snaked out wrapping around my slim waist catching me with ease. I was safely standing back on my own two feet. His arm disappeared just as quickly as it had come. I did not dare look back, afraid of what I might find there. Yet somehow I still felt his eyes on me. My hair bounced as I continued to walk to my old Dodge truck.

The sun slowly descended behind the mountains as black clouds rolled in. I shivered and pulled my jacket closer, hoping to keep the chill out. I pulled in our driveway and as I slid out of my truck, small white snow flakes fell from the sky covering the forest with a blanket of white. After warming the house with our old black woodstove I stepped over to the small keyboard my mother had brought for me many years ago. Something pulled me toward it. I brushed my hands over the black and white keys savoring the thrilling sensation within me. Tears threatened to fall as memories of my mother filled my mind.

Years ago we had sat here together laughing as she tried to teach me how to play 'Fur Elise'. Our love of music brought us closer but with her death the music perished as well. I started playing. The music filled the silence carrying my pain with it. I felt her arms around me as I played, which I had not done since her death. But the song slowly faded leaving the room silent again. I brushed the tears from my eyes and trudged into the kitchen. Dinner occupied my hands but left my mind free to roam.

Lyrics to a new song began to arrange themselves in my head. 'Hum, hum, humm, hum.' My foot started tapping out a beat. For a moment life did not seem so pointless, so sad. I stopped chopping onions and shuffled to the keyboard. The tune soon took shape. I yanked a notebook out of my school bag and wrote it down. A smile touched my lips as I relished in the momentary happiness.

As the meat and onions simmered, filling the room with a delicious aroma, I wrote the words to my new song. That night my dreams were filled with the sweet melody; my heart felt at peace.

In the morning I drove to school; a slight peace lingering in my heart. The cold air chilled my skin, as the snow started to fall again. I pulled my hood up over my hair and slipped into the gathering students. During lunch I snuck away. The empty music room invited me toward it. A rather small but beautiful piano sat all alone in the corner, I strolled toward it.

I pulled my notebook out, and began playing my song on the divine instrument. The melody filled not only the room but my heart as well. There must have been footsteps but I did not hear them. Soon a guitar melted into my tune. I did not stop. I wonder who could be playing. Whoever it is they are very good.

My song came to it's final note. I packed up my stuff and slung my bag over my shoulder. I headed toward the door trying not to be late for class again.

'Amy,' a voice called my name.

I heard my breath quiver and I wanted to run, instead I stopped. Something in me wanted to stay, and I let it win. I tried to will myself to speak, but my lips stayed frozen in place.

I heard footsteps behind me and my heart raced. I stood there, my entire frame as still as a statue. Then...I saw him. His green eyes met mine; we just stood there silent and staring.

'That was a beautiful song,' he offered, a smile touching his face.

'Um, I, you.Thanks,' I managed.

He laughed and then, 'So, you're probably wondering who I am. I just moved here from Montana. My name's Ethan.'

'How,' I looked away, trying to force myself to breathe again, 'do you know my name?'

Why did I ask him that? What is wrong with me? Of course he knows my name, EVERYONE here talks about me. He was bound to hear my name sometime.

And then as if reading my thoughts, 'I really don't care what they say, just so you know.'

So he had heard about me from them. GREAT! But wait he said he does not care. Could I really trust him?

It was a choice I had to make. Fear tore at my heart but I wanted to open up to let someone in. The bell rang shattering my thoughts for the moment.

'I have to go,' I said, over my shoulder as I hustled out into the halls.

I may have avoided his question, I may have run, but deep down I did not want to run anymore. The truth, unveiled itself with a simple question. Now all that remained was a will to answer it. I would win this battle!

The last bell of the day rang filling the classroom with a boisterous sound. I scooped my books up and rushed to my locker. Students shoved past me but I did not care anymore. I searched through the crowd but to no avail. With a penitent heart I stepped carefully toward my freedom. Someone pushed me out the door; I started to fall toward the snow covered ground. Strong arms, arms that I knew, caught me and set my feet back on the ground. A smile spread over my face. Ethan!

I turned to face him, 'Sorry about earlier and thanks for saving me, twice.'

'It's okay,' he slightly smiled, a good sign. 'How did you know it was me?'

'You are the only one here who doesn't hate me,' I smiled, despite how much it hurt to admit that out loud.



'Are we friends now?'

'I',' my gaze fell to the snow covered sidewalk, 'sure.'

'See ya tomorrow then?'

'Yup,' I shifted my gaze back to his, 'see ya.'

We stood, staring at each other again, as if trying to read what was hidden beneath the surface. My mind ran with questions while my heart longed to run. The battle still raged within, but I had finally made the choice to change. I would not run from them or myself anymore.

With one last glimpse at me Ethan turned and walked toward the parking lot. I watched him until he disappeared from my sight and then I sprinted down the sidewalk to my truck.

That night I sat for hours at my keyboard playing anything and everything I knew or could create. The music filled a void deep in my heart which for too long had remained vacant. The truth hurt but I realized no one had been holding me back but myself. I had to make the choice, whether to let people in or not, whether to trust or not. I had to push past their comments, their scuritizing stares and live my life the way I wanted to, instead hiding behind my fear.

Things started to turn around for me after that. I made a few friends and put all my anger and loneliness into my music. I learned to trust people again, with Ethan's help, and found a happiness I had not known for a long time. With a smile and friends by my side I graduated from High School that spring. One simple choice, the choice to open up, changed my life forever.
(January 2009)

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By Tyler, 15, Cameron Park, CA, USA

The Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, Encampment is an eight day training week used to teach basic cadets drill and teamwork. Encampment lasted from the 2nd through the 9th of August and was held at the National Guard Base in San Luis Obispo (SLO). Preparation for encampment started weeks in advance when I received my acceptance letter with a packet of information containing an equipment list and the SOP or standard operating procedures. On the morning of the first day of encampment, which was the day before my birthday, I awoke at 5am and completed my final preparations before encampment.

When I finished I went down stairs and my dad asked, 'Well, big day huh? Are you excited?'

I just grunted and thought to myself no, not really.

'Just remember it's all just a game and it's all in your head,' he lectured me like he had a thousand times before.

I can still remember the sick feeling in my stomach when I loaded my bags in the back of the truck at 6:30am to leave with my mom to meet with a carpool, I would ride with other cadets down to camp SLO. When I arrived at the carpool which was the parking lot in front of Raley's in El Dorado Hills there was great tension in the air. None of the cadets spoke.

I looked at mom and said, 'Bye, see ya in a week'

I hopped in the van and we left for SLO. While in the van we studied our training manuals for a few hours before stopping at In 'N' Out for lunch. I could feel my nervousness begin to fade as I ate my burger and fries. I felt calm for the next few hours, but when I saw the sign 'San Louis Obispo next exit' my nervousness and anxiety returned. One cadet was so nervous he felt sick.

'Here, just don't throw up on your uniform,' I said, as I handed him an In 'N' Out bag.

When we arrived at the camp we unloaded out of the van and around us were hills with few trees and old army helicopters and other vehicles that sat rusting in an old parking lot. As soon as all of us were out of the van we unloaded our luggage then checked in at in processing. After in processing with a group of 20 other cadets I marched down to the barracks and had a meeting with the Cadet Training Group commander.

'What you are receiving is your basic cadet contract,' said cadet major Ann Marie Theisen as she handed out pieces of paper to everyone in the room.

'Everyone please read the first bullet point,' after a short pause she continued, 'now underline 'consistently performing to the highest standard'.'

We continued this process for every bullet point, underlining things and crossing others out and rewording.

'Sergeant Major,' said the major when she had finished what she had to.

'ROOOM!!! TEEENCH-HUT!' blasted the Sergeant Major Cadet Chief Master Sergeant James Lesslie.

The sergeant major began barking orders.

'Alright you cadets have five seconds to get all of your contracts in one NEAT pile on this chair with your pens in the box beside it and then get in a single file line beginning three feet from this door.'

He pointed to a large green metal door at the back of the room, 'GO NOW!FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO,' not even half the cadets had finished putting their contracts on the chair, 'ONE YOU'RE DONE! STOP NOW!'

Everyone in the room froze and stood at attention.

'WHAT IS WRONG!? I GAVE YOU PLENTY OF TIME. Those of you who still have your contracts and pens, put them where they need to go and GET IN A SINGLE-FILE LINE NOW!'

So all those who had their contracts and pens shuffled around each other to try and get in line as quickly as possible and when they were all done the Sergeant Major walked to the large green door in the back.

'I WANT YOU ALL OUT OF THIS ROOM NOW! MOVE, MOVE, MOVE, GET OUT!' he said to every basic as they ran out the room, and he pushed them out the door.

After our class with the CTG commander we made our way to our barracks. The barracks buildings were large, light brown, two-story buildings where I reported into my flight sergeant and flight commander. A few hours later we marched to chow which gave us no break from the yelling and was just another 'training opportunity.' After chow we made our way back to our barracks. Along the way I tried to look at my surroundings, which was difficult standing at attention and looking straight ahead. But I could see that a lot of the buildings on base were old, the paint was flaking, some boards on the buildings were cracked, and the roofing was made of red tile or wood. I noticed dirt, gravel roads, and dead grass. When we made it back to our barracks we learned to make our racks and roll our socks and t-shirts to the encampment standard, which was set high. The whole flight was required to work as a team, and eventually the entire CTG also had to accomplish the task of meeting the encampment standard.

The next day, or my birthday, we were woken up at 6am for morning Physical Training. PT is usually a good time to develop team work because cadets motivate each other as exercises get tougher. but at encampment we didn't even know each other's names yet, so we could not motivate each other. After PT we got dressed in our Battle Dress Uniforms (BDU's) and marched to chow for breakfast. After chow the daily schedule consisted of classes, drill time, more classes, lunch, inspection preparation, dinner, inspection, and finally personal prep time that cadets used to remake their racks and re-roll shirts and socks which were usually unrolled and tossed across the room during an inspection. During the second day no one helped one another in preparation for our first inspection.

'Hey would you help me with my hospital corners?' one cadet would ask another.

'Not right now I have to finish mine,' another cadet would respond.

Everyone wanted to make sure they passed the inspection.

During inspection time the flight sergeant and commander walked in the room and immediately started yelling at the first cadet they came to.


I knew none of us had met the encampment standards. People still had shirts and socks to be rolled and laid out on their racks. The white sheets under our blankets looked like the ocean in a severe storm. The whole chain of command had not been memorized by any cadet, and being quizzed on memory work was also part of the inspection. Throughout the entire inspection the flight sergeant and flight commander yelled and screamed at cadets. 'LOOK AT THIS RACK IT IS A MESS THE WRINKLES ARE AWFUL AND WHERE ARE YOUR HOSPITAL CORNERS?'

Cadets were so shocked at the behavior of the staff that they couldn't speak to save their lives. If the staff found a rack that looked decent or had something that looked good, they would question the cadet on why he did not help the others in his flight. After the inspection was over our bay looked like a category five hurricane had come through.

The next day we followed the same routine: wake up, PT, chow, classes, except when we prepared for our inspection. Instead of worrying about ourselves, we helped those across from us and next to us. We quizzed each other on memory work, which were definitions and oaths and the chain of command. When inspection time came the staff made their entrance as they had last night but this time we were prepared and able to answer the staff's questions.

'The inspection was far from perfect but a great improvement from last night,' said my flight commander.

Our next inspection was even better. I heard more compliments than corrections from staff. These compliments, at least for me, motivated me and made me want to do better. The next day we ran the confidence course, which was an obstacle course where each member of each flight had to help their fellow cadets over each obstacle by saying things that were motivational or pushing them up over a wall during the obstacle course. My flight began to come together as a team. We helped each other up when we fell, and we did not move on to the next obstacle until everyone had made it over the present one. When the o-course had begun Charlie flight, my flight, was not motivated. We had an upcoming squadron inspection where the squadron commander and first sergeant would inspect each flight to see how they were progressing. Fearing that we would fail this inspection we lost all motivation, but with the completion of the o-course and dirt on our teeth, face, and uniforms, we regained all of our motivation and plus more.

The results first squadron inspection went well, not as well as we had hoped but there was improvement in the teamwork of the flight. Next our help extended to other flights. We would instead not only work on the hospital corners of the cadet next to us but also those of a cadet who was upstairs or next door. In the second squadron inspection the squadron commander and first sergeant, just like the flight sergeant and commander had done shouted more compliments than corrections.

The next day we awoke with a new found confidence. Outside, the morning was cold and smelled of sea salt but there was something different about this day. This day was the final day of encampment. We had one more inspection and would be inspected by the sergeant major and CTG commander. They would not only inspect us, they would inspect all nine flights in the CTG. Each cadet would have to help the person next to him, up stairs, next door, and in addition the cadets in the next building. This inspection would require every cadet, flight, and squadron to come together as a CTG. After PT we ate breakfast and were then given hours to prepare for the group inspection. Cadets were running from bay to bay and building to building helping other cadets.

When it was time for the group inspection I could hear outside my bay, 'Is your squadron prepared for inspection?' the CTG commander questioning the squadron commander.

They first went to the bay next to us, I was surprised, there was no yelling which calmed me down and I am sure the other cadets in my flight as well. When the sergeant major and CTG commander inspected our bay they briefly looked at our racks and wall lockers and moved on. After the group inspection there was a test and then a party which was a reward for our week's worth of hard work.
During encampment every cadet learned that nothing can be done as an individual and that it takes a team working hard together to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. When I arrived at camp SLO the first day I was yelled at, chewed out, and spat on I felt worthless and alone but as the week progressed I became part of a team that worked together. The major lesson that I took away from encampment is, again, nothing can be done as an individual and I can now function as an effective member of a team whether it be on a sports team, in a class room or wherever.
(January 2009)

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Operation Blackhawk: The Battle for New York

By Tim, 16, Grizzly Flats, CA, USA

As night engulfed the ruined skyscrapers of New York City, a column of CX-1 Combat Tanks progressed slowly through the barren streets. Their heavy plasma cannon turrets swiveled from side to side as they scanned the adjacent streets for hostile targets. Suddenly, several high speed missiles screamed out of the nearby buildings and hit the rear of the tank line, making them disappear into a ball of fire and debris. The remaining vehicles frantically returned fire, reducing many buildings to empty lots, but their efforts were in vain. Seconds later, only impact craters remained where the tank column once was.

Sergeant Wayne Johnson, leader of the Vortex Division of the BladeHawk Clan Army, emerged from his concealed position inside a burned out shopping mall, his 75A Arrowhead rocket launcher smoking.

'Vortex One to Base Alpha: enemy opposition eliminated. Area Four secure, over.'

'Rodger, Vortex One,' came the reply, 'proceed to next area and await further orders, over.'

'Will do, Base Alpha,' Wayne replied, as he slid another missile into his launcher, 'over and out.'

The year was 2123 and the world had been ravaged by a nuclear war sparked by the outcome of the Cold War. Nearly one hundred years after the nukes started falling, five groups of survivors began to form clans and re-colonize the globe. The BladeHawk Clan occupying much of what used to be the United States of America, the EagleTalon Clan colonizing all of Canada and the northern regions, the SnakeSkin Clan who took up residence in South America, the NewBlood Clan occupying Europe, and the evil NightStalker Clan who have conquered India, the Middle East, and China. For many years, the Clans have been at war with one another in their attempts to colonize more land.

After their stunning defeat in the former territory of France at the hands of the NewBlood Clan, the NightStalker Clan had set their sights on conquering North America in the belief that attacking the slightly weakened BladeHawk Clan will yield more favorable results. Their dark forces landed on the sandy beaches of New York under the cover of darkness, overwhelming the moderate BladeHawk Clan defenses of New York City. In response to this disturbing move, the BladeHawk Clan Army sent a good portion of their forces to take the city out of the NightStalker's hands in a massive counterstrike code named: Operation Blackhawk.

Wayne glanced at the surrounding skyscrapers and keyed his head-mounted radio mike to his division's frequency.

'Vortex Division, this is Vortex One. You can come out now. The boogieman tanks are gone.'

'Very funny Wayne,' Wayne's friend, Private John O'Brian, said in a sarcastic voice as he emerged from behind a burned-out car, ' It wasn't like we were hiding in fear, you know.'

Wayne grinned, 'Yeah, I know. However, with your reputation, who knows.'

'So, what did the HQ say?' John asked, ignoring Wayne's comment.

'We need to proceed to Area Five and wait for further orders,' Wayne answered, as he unholstered his XCR Assault Rifle from it's holster on his back.

'Alright guys!' he called to his division, 'Let's move out!'

The division moved silently and carefully through the rubble-filled streets and alleyways in a tight circle formation. Occasionally, the distant sounds of gunfire and explosions echoed through the city, indicating that the other divisions were having less luck than Vortex was. Wayne's wrist-mounted scanner suddenly beeped insistently and Wayne held up a gloved fist, causing the rest of his division to come to a halt.

'What is it Wayne?' John asked, tension filling his voice.

Before Wayne could respond, the line of skyscrapers ahead of them burst into a shower of debris and chunks of concrete, causing Wayne and his division to shield their eyes from the dust. However, they didn't need their eyes to determine what had caused the explosion. The heavy thump of massive metal feet cut through the ensuing silence like a hot knife through butter. Suddenly, a twenty-foot tall battle machine stepped out of the dust cloud, it's twin heavy laser cannons sweeping over the area in search of its next target.

Wayne's eyes went wide with horror, 'Take cover!'

Seconds later, the machine whirled around and it's laser cannons opened fire on Wayne's division with disturbing precision. Wayne ducked as a laser bolt blazed by overhead, turning the pavement behind him into molten rock.

'John!' Wayne yelled to his friend who had taken cover just a few feet away, 'got any more rockets left? I lost mine.'

John shook his head, 'No, sir. However, I do have a pack of C-12 with me.'

'That'll work for now,' Wayne agreed, 'Gather all the C-12 from the men as you can.'

John nodded and ran among the ranks of the Vortex Division, harvesting any C-12 explosives that the men handed to him. A few minutes later, John returned with several C-12 packs bundled up into a small cube.

'Our best bet will be to go for the legs,' John said, 'that's more than likely it's weak spot.'

'Maybe,' Wayne replied, as he glanced out from behind his cover, 'unfortunately, we've got roughly forty yards of open ground between us and that walker. Whoever goes won't be able to run to cover by the time the C-12 goes off.'

'Which is why I'll be the one to go,' John stated.

Wayne looked at his friend as if the man had suddenly turned into a crazed suicidal madman.

'There's no way on what's left of this earth that I'm going to let you take a one-way trip to your death.'

'You and I both know that I'm the fastest runner in the division,' John argued, 'I'll be able to get in and out of there in time. As Peter Pan used to say, 'Death would be an awfully big adventure.'

'Since when have you seen Peter Pan?' Wayne questioned.

John shrugged, 'It's a long story.'

Wayne glanced past his cover at the enemy battle machine that loomed before them, 'If you're doing this, you'd better do it now.'

'It's been an honor serving with you, Sergeant Johnson,' John said, holding out his gloved hand.

Wayne took the offered hand and shook it, 'Same here, Private O'Brian. Good luck and Godspeed.' He then turned to his division and yelled, 'Covering fire!'

What remained of the Vortex Division suddenly popped out from behind boulders and wrecked cars and opened fire on the battle machine. Even though the bullets harmlessly pinged off of it's thick armor, they proved effective in keeping the machine occupied.

'Go now!' Wayne yelled to John over the thunderous rat-a-tat of machine gun fire.

With a savage cry, John broke from his cover and sprinted towards the massive leg of the walker, the bundle of C-12 in his hand. A few seconds later, he reached the leg and began to tie the explosive bundle onto it's surface. As soon as he was done, John set the timer for ten seconds, then made a break for the nearest cover.


The walker's leg disappeared in a brilliant flash of fire and light. The explosion was so intense, Wayne had to shield his eyes from it's glare. Suddenly finding that it no longer had a leg, the battle machine fell onto it's side with a mechanical groan. Wayne gazed at the downed machine for a few moments before waving the 'all clear' signal to his men.

'Secure the area,' he ordered.

'Yes, sir.'

Wayne slowly made his way to the disabled walker, keeping his rifle aimed towards it just in case it decided to come back to life.

'Private O'Brian!' Wayne called, hoping beyond hope that his friend had survived the explosion, 'if you can hear me, please respond!'

Just then, one of Wayne's squad commanders trotted up, 'The area's secure, sir. Awaiting further orders.'

'Help the wounded onto stretchers,' Wayne replied, 'bury the dead.'

The soldier nodded, 'Yes, sir.'

Wayne continued to search the surrounding rubble for any sign that John was still alive. 'Sir.' A nearby soldier suddenly yelled, 'I found something.'

Wayne jogged over, 'What is it, Private?'

The soldier glanced at him with sadness in his eyes and slowly held up a pair of military dog tags. 'I think these belonged to O'Brian, sir,' he told Wayne, 'the explosion must have incinerated him.'

Wayne took the tags, tears welling up in his eyes. He was too young to die, he thought, I should have forced him not to go.

'Private O'Brian was a brave man, sir.'

The soldier who had found the tags said in a reassuring voice, 'He gave his life to protect this division and the BladeHawk Clan.'

'I know,' Wayne replied.

'I'll see that you're left alone for awhile,' the Private stated as he walked away.

Wayne stood silently for several minutes, still stunned by John's death. His mind refusing to come to terms with what had just happened. That Private is right, Wayne thought, I can't let John's sacrifice be in vain.

Wayne's mind finally recovered itself and, after shoving John's dog tags into his vest pocket, rejoined his division.

'Come on, guys,' he told them, 'we've still got a long way to go before we take this city. Let's hunt some NightStalkers.'

With a cheer, the Vortex Division reformed and continued on their way through the city streets, melting into the ever-growing shadows, and on the hunt once again.
(January 2009)

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My New House

By Savannah, 9, FL, USA

It was a cool fall evening. It was the day I got to see my brand new house!I was sitting in the front seat of my Grandma's golden Explorer. By the time I pulled in to the neighborhood I was thinking that my house was going to be luxurious. As I was looking at the other houses I had a feeling my house wasn't going to be big. I knew my mom was going to be there and my mom's best friend Mrs.Erin.

I was thinking to myself, 'The three times my family has bought a house,a Realtor came to our house.'

Then all of a sudden I got a little shy. I looked at our address number and street. It was one four two two Rensselaer Ave. Then all of a sudden I heard someone yelling to me. It was my Grandma.

'Are you coming?!' she yelled.

I didn't know what to say, so I just opened the car door, got out, walked up the stairs of the porch, and met the realtor and tried to go in but no one had the key (not even the Realtor lady!).So it ended up we had to go through the backyard. I have to admit, the backyard was huge! So we are finally in the house! My mom (of course) went to show everyone the master bedroom which was her room. The rooms were horrible to me! I have asthma and with all that dust, I could have an asthma attack. Next there was paint coming off the walls and if one of them ate it they could get really sick.

The next room we all saw was the to sister rooms. All the rooms were tiny (even the master bedroom)

'Can I please see my room now?' I asked.

'Sure, it's in the way back buy the kitchen,' my mom said.

I went running all the way to my room. My room was puny. I ran inside my closet (it was huge!) My mom went to see me. She looked in the closet to see were I was. She found me. She asked me if I liked my room. I told her I hated it. She didn't"t care. All that she wanted was to make sure we had a roof over our heads. I sorta thought about what she was talking about. Let's just put it this way I'm thankful for my house.
(January 2009)

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The Magic Purple Lollipop

By Nabila, 9, UK

Once upon a time there lived a mean, wicked witch. She wanted to take over Christmas. If she finds out that you have put Christmas presents under the tree she will come to you (in a disguise) and give you a purple lollipop which is poisonous and that means you will die.

One day a boy was putting a present under a tree. Suddenly an old lady appeared and gave him a red lollipop. He didn't die with this lollipop. Instead something strange happened to him. He didn't know this until he got up and looked in the baby's mirror.

'Aaagghh,' he screamed, he was turned into a toad.

When he turned around, 'Aagghh,' he saw a very tiny fairy.

She said, 'Hi my name is Sera and I have turned into a fairy by the wicked witch.'

'Hi my name is Sam, I just put a present under the tree and when I got up I saw myself turned into a frog. I'm not sure who's done this,' said the boy.

'I think I know who has done this to you, it was the mean witch,' said Sera.

So Sera told him the whole story about the wicked witch.

'What shall we do then?' asked Sam.

'I shall fly with you and we will fly to the North Pole and tell Santa about the wicked witch,' said Sera. So off they went to tell Santa the bad news.

Once they got there they told Santa the bad news.

'Beep beep beep,' it was Santa's phone ringing.

He picked it up.

'Meet me near the north-tower,' she said.

'Who is this?' Santa replied.

'It is the wicked witch of the west,' said the mean witch.

'Why do you want me to meet you near the north-tower?' asked Santa.

'Just meet me or else I will turn you into a lizard.'

So Santa went the next day. He went with his elves, Sam and Sera. He met the wicked witch of the west. They both used their powers. Santa used his to make her become good and not try to kill anybody. The wicked witch used hers to turn him into a lizard even though she was going to do it if he didn't come. The wicked witch was too powerful for Santa so he told everyone to help. And eventually they won. Suddenly Sam and Sera were turned back into a human. The next day they didn't remember anything about the wicked witch and Santa.
(January 2009)

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The Hidden One

By Amira, 12, Preston, Lancashire, UK

A long time ago, in a village by a lake, there lived a great hunter who was invisible. He was called the Hidden One. It was known that any young woman who could see him would become his bride.

Many were the hopeful young women who visited his wigwam at the far end of the village. Each was tested by the hunter's sister, who was called the Patient One. But years passed, and none succeeded.

In the same village lived two sisters who had lost their mother. The younger sister had a good heart, but the older one was jealous and cruel. While their father was out hunting, the older sister would torment the younger one, holding her down and burning her arms and face with sticks from the fire.

'Don't you dare tell our father,' she would say, 'or next time will be worse!'

When the father came home, he would ask in dismay, 'Why is she burnt again?'

The older sister would answer, 'The stupid, clumsy thing! She was playing with the fire, just like you told her not to!'

The father would turn to the younger, 'Is this true?'

But she only bit her lip and said nothing.

After a while she had so many scars, she was called Little Scarface. She lost her long braids too, when her sister singed them off. And she had to go barefoot and wear rags, for her sister would not allow her any skins to make moccasins or new clothes.

Of course, the sister made up all different reasons to tell their father. And he would shake his head in sorrow and disappointment.

One day, the older sister put on her finest clothes and many shiny strings of shell beads.

'Do you know what I'm doing?' she asked Little Scarface. 'I'm going to marry the Hidden One. Of course, that's something you could never dream of.'

Little Scarface bowed her head.

When the older sister reached the wigwam at the edge of the village, she was greeted by the sister of the hunter.

'You are welcome,' said the Patient One, 'my brother will return soon from the hunt. Come help me prepare the evening meal.'

The two of them worked awhile, until the sun was nearly down. Then the Patient One led the young woman to the shore of the lake.

'My brother comes,' the Patient One said, pointing along the shore, 'do you see him?'

The young woman saw no one, but she had decided to pretend, 'Of course. There he is now!'

The eyes of the Patient One narrowed, 'And what is his shoulder strap?'

'A strip of rawhide,' said the young woman, thinking it a safe guess.

The Patient One frowned, 'Let us return to the wigwam.'

They had just finished making the meal when a deep voice said, 'Greetings, my sister.'

The young woman jumped in surprise. She stared at the entrance but saw no one.

'Greetings, my brother,' replied the Patient One.

As the young woman watched with wide eyes, a moccasin appeared in mid-air and dropped to the floor, followed by another. A moment later, bits of food were rising from a birch-bark tray near the fire and vanishing into an invisible mouth.

The young woman turned to the Patient One, 'When will our wedding take place?'

The Patient One turned to her angrily, 'What wedding? Do you think my brother would marry a liar and a fool?'

The young woman ran crying from the wigwam.

All the next morning she stayed in bed, weeping and sobbing. Then Little Scarface came to her.

'Sister, let me have skins to make moccasins and new clothes. It is my turn to visit the Hidden One.'

'How dare you!' screamed the sister.

She jumped up and slapped Little Scarface, knocking her to the floor, 'Are you so stupid to think you can do what I couldn't? Even if you saw him, do you think he'd marry a pathetic thing like you?'

She sank back to the bed in tears.

Little Scarface sat huddled for a long time, listening to her sister howl and sob. Then she rose and said again, 'It is my turn to visit the Hidden One.'

Her sister stopped crying and stared in amazement.

Little Scarface went to her father's chest and took out an old pair of moccasins. She put them on her own small feet. Then she went out into the woods. She chose a birch tree and carefully stripped off the bark in a single sheet. From this she made a suit of clothes, which she put on in place of her rags. Then she started back through the village.

'Look at Little Scarface!' yelled a boy, 'she's dressed like a tree!'

'Hey, Little Scarface,' a young man called, 'are those moccasins big enough for you?'

'I don't believe it!' an old woman said, 'she's on her way to the Hidden One!'

'Little Scarface,' called a young woman, 'did you burn yourself and cut off your hair to look pretty for him?'

Ignoring their taunts and laughter, Little Scarface walked on till she reached the wigwam at the village edge.

The Patient One regarded the young woman with surprise, but she told her, 'You are welcome.'

Little Scarface helped prepare the evening meal. When the sun was nearly down, the Patient One led her to the lake.

'My brother comes,' the Patient One told her, 'do you see him?'

Little Scarface gazed along the shore. 'I'm not sure. . . .'

Then her eyes lit in wonder, 'Yes, I see him! But how can there be such a one?'

The Patient One looked at her curiously, 'What is his shoulder strap?'

'His shoulder strap is. . . is the Rainbow!'

The Patient One's eyes grew wide, 'and his bowstring?'

'His bowstring is. . . the Milky Way!'

The Patient One smiled, 'Let us return.'

When they reached the wigwam, the Patient One took the strange clothes off Little Scarface and washed her with water from a special jar. The young woman's scars disappeared, leaving her skin shining and smooth. A magic comb made the young woman's hair grow quickly to her waist, ready for braiding.

Then the Patient One opened a chest and took out a beautiful wedding outfit. Little Scarface had just put it on when a deep voice said, 'Greetings, my sister.'

Little Scarface turned to the entrance and stared at the magnificent young hunter. As their eyes met, she saw the surprise in his.

'Greetings, my brother,' said the Patient One, 'you are discovered!'

The Hidden One walked over to Little Scarface and took her hands in his, 'For years I have waited to find a woman of pure heart and brave spirit. Only such a one could see me. And now you shall be my bride.'

So they were married. And from then on, Little Scarface had a new name, the Lovely One. For she too had been hidden, and now was hidden no more!
(January 2009)

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My feelings of my grandma

By Jacob, 14, Placerville, California, USA

My grandma was a great person who cared about other people. She always knew what to get for birthdays and when she would send a package for our birthdays I always felt loved and special. Also when she sent packages for our birthday, she would put two presents in for the birthday boy or girl one being clothes and the other a specific toy or gift that he or she wanted. She also would put a small toy for each of the kids and a box of fruit snacks for the whole family. Every time she came to visit our family, she would drive our family to the dollar tree and let us pick out two things. She was always very patient with us because we always took a long time to choose.
I liked spending time at my grandma's house because it always felt special when we saw her; we did not get to see her often because she, along with my aunt and cousins, lived about seven hours away. Whenever we went there it was fun because she had lots of activities for us to do. She had a ton of beanie babies, Tinker Toys, and Little People that I could play with. Her house was very large with lots of places to roam. She also had a drawer with prizes that she sometimes gave out to us for our entertainment. In her backyard she had small streams, trees, and rocky hills for us to explore. Whenever I needed help with something she was always glad to assist me. She was extremely kind and thoughtful and I always had lots and lots of fun there. At her house during the Christmas season a creatively decorated Silver Tip Christmas tree always stood in the middle of her grand living room. It seemed like hundreds of presents always lay under the sweet scented branches, waiting to be opened by happy and excited children on Christmas morning. Stockings for my grandma, grandpa, and their evil little dog Cully hung on the fireplace mantle. Also, she had all kinds of different and interesting wind up toys, such as a little green frog that hopped across the flat surface area, which I and my family had an amazingly fun time playing with. She also had yummy snacks for me and my siblings, like different types of fruit snacks and juice boxes, such as Daffy Duck, Scooby Doo, or sharks to munch on all day long.
One time when my grandma came over she had a nagging cough that would not go away. I felt worried because she was going to the doctor and they were trying to figure out what the problem was. I found out later that, would be last time that I would ever see her still with her hair. The first memory that I have of her with no hair was when I went to her house and she was wearing a green and brown beanie (I had never seen her wear one before). The doctors had figured out that she had lung cancer. She had to have her head shaved, which I thought was a weird idea at that time. I felt really weird and sad seeing the smooth scalp instead of the usual full head of grey brown and thick curly hair.
When my grandma was sick I went to visit her with my family because she was in the hospital. The white walls seemed plain to me, and the gross feeling and smell of lots of very sick people made me want to leave immediately. When I saw her, people were always surrounding her bed, and even though she was extremely sick, she would always make an effort to be sweet and kind to us; although the sadness in her eyes gave away how she really felt.
For weeks on end my mom would go to the hospital to visit and help take care of her, leaving the rest of the family home to wait anxiously for her to return with news on my grandma's health. Even though I got to spend weeks at a time with only my dad and siblings, the activities never really seemed very fun, with the thought of my Grandma dying always on my mind. It was only the sadness of that thought, but also the sadness that we would never get a special package for our birthdays anymore.
One day, after a couple of weeks of being gone, my mom called to tell us that she was coming home. My grandma had been getting steadily sicker and sicker and was in major pain all of the time, but my mom could stay away from us forever. She came home that Saturday. On Sunday morning my grandma was having much worse pain than normal, and my mom decided to go back sooner than she normally would have. Unfortunately she did not go soon enough, for on Monday morning we received a call telling us that my grandma had passed away that night, peacefully, while sleeping.
The feeling that came upon me cannot be described. It might have been the numbness of it all, but it was a tidal wave that threw me across a beach. I felt sad and lonely, and I knew that I would never again feel the comfort of her fruit snacks and birthday packages. My mom and sister started crying and my dad looked like he was about to, so I left the room in order to keep the dust out of my eyes. My mom left the next day to go and comfort her only sister, my aunt, and then came back after a few days to get us and drive out there for the funeral.
Since my grandma and her family had been Catholic, they had a catholic mass for her. It was kind of strange for me because I hadn't ever been to a mass before. The setup was pretty basic, with an aisle and benches on either side. A podium on a raised step faced the congregation and had chairs behind it for the different speakers. The room itself was round with a large picture of Christ on the back wall. The priest was an elderly man with a dull deep set face. His Irish accent was probably the coolest thing about him. The ceremony had lots of prayers and random singing. I thought it was pretty boring. There were stories about my grandma that were told by my mom and aunt; those were interesting. A large casket sat on a trolley for us all to look at. It was not open, thankfully. We were handed out programs with a picture of my grandma on the front and the ceremony outline inside. There was also a poem about her on it.
Afterwards, there was a huge family dinner at a golf course in memory of her love for playing golf. They played a slideshow with tons of pictures and one of her favorite songs; It was cool. They had all kinds of desserts after the dinner. There was a really good chocolate cake there. After that we got to look around the building, including the hall of fame, where we saw a plaque with my grandma's name on it. I felt sad when I thought of her and all of the things she had done. After the dinner I and my family went to my aunt's house to spend the night. We stayed there for another day doing activities that weren't very much fun. We also visited my grandma again at the mortuary.
My mom and my dad talked for a long time on the way home, and decided that it would be better to live closer to my aunt and cousins. My life changed when in only three weeks, my dad got permission from work, found a house to buy only two hours away from where my aunt lived, and managed to sell our house also. My parents left for a day to go and check out the house, my siblings and I each went to stay with a friend while they were gone. My mom and dad left early that morning and dropped us all off, then they came to pick us up late that night. They had decided that the house was perfect for us, and it even had a big tree in the front yard.
My dad hired moving people to come and pack up all our stuff. For a while, we had people wrapping up all our stuff in crumbly brown paper that got annoying because of the loud noise. Each of my family members got two boxes for our stuff, excluding my parents of course. It was kind of exciting to be moving closer to my cousins, even though it was sad to leave all of my friends. The moving people managed to pack up all our stuff in just a couple of days and load all of the boxes onto their van. I got to help, and it was kind of fun.
We left in our van the day after the moving van left, and it took us close to six hours to drive all the way to our new house in Folsom, California. We still got there before the moving van did; they didn't get there until a few days had passed.
When we arrived, at about eleven o'clock at night, we ran inside to check it out, even though we were tired. Of course we had to sleep on the floor in our sleeping bags that night and others until the moving van came with all of our beds and other things.
The van finally arrived while my family and I were gone, and my dad was at home. They came earlier than they had originally said. Once we got home we hurried to our rooms to start unpacking our things. It took awhile. Our house seemed really big at first, especially compared to our old house. It had two stories, unlike our old house which had only one.
My life was impacted greatly when my grandma died of lung cancer. This has changed me because I would not be here if my grandma had not died. I am not saying I am glad that she died, but it has affected me in some good ways. This experience has taught me that things can change quickly, even when you donýt want them to change at all. This experience has changed how I interact with others because moving has allowed me to make new friends. To me, this experience was like a mountain being moved. Before this, I had never really had anyone die in my life that I loved or was close too; now I have personal experience. Hospitals have never really been real to me, only a part of movies and TV shows, but now I know that they can really impact you if you are not careful. I hope I will never have the need to repeat this experience. My life has changed through the move because I have made new friends and gotten used to a bigger house.
(December 2008)

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The Sick Pig

By Noor, 6, North Dakota, USA

Once there was a pig and her name was Ann. She missed her friends at school. And she was sick for one whole week. Then she felt better then she could go to school. And they lived happily ever after. (December 2008)

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Sir Michael and his Sword

By Harry, 8, Hong Kong

One day long ago there was a knight called Sir Michael and he was a very good fighter. He killed five dragons, but one accidentally swallowed his sword. Sir Michael was trying to kill the dragon by stabbing it in the neck, but suddenly the dragon opened it's mouth to let out fire and the sword went down it's throat.

The dragon died but Sir Michael had no sword. The old dragon was extremely furious because his son was dead and he had no one to live with. He started burning down houses in revenge.

Sir Michael remembered that the old dragon adored treasure, so he got two treasure chests and yelled to the dragon,

'I've got two chests full of treasure. I'll give them to you if you stop burning down houses.'

The dragon thought for five minutes and then decided to take the offer. The villagers cheered for Sir Michael because he saved most of their houses and their lives.

Back at the dragon's cave, the dragon began throwing coins up in the air. He never found out that the treasure was fake!
(December 2008)

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One Shot

By Tyler, 15, CA, USA

In the pre-dawn hours of September 29, 1983, a helicopter carrying two men flew over the central plains of Russia. Their mission was to assassinate their target: a very powerful weapons dealer known as 'Doc' who was selling nuclear missiles to communist countries. The helicopter pitched violently upward as it slowed to a hover.

'Alright we're here. Good luck!' the pilot yelled over the roar of the helicopter's rotor blades.

The two men gave thumbs up and descended out of the chopper. As they crouched in the darkness, the chopper pulled out of the drop zone to return to the military base it had originated from. The two men could hear the whoop-whoop-whoop of the chopper's rotor blades, and felt their sense of security leave them. They crouched, alone and cold, but ready to carry out their mission. The two men then dropped to their stomachs and began inching their way through the moist plains of the Russian countryside. The sun began to rise over the horizon. The two men's hearts began to race as the cover of darkness left them, but they were confident in the fact that their gillie suits were constructed well so the enemy would never see them. Late into the day the two men stood among grass as tall as their chests. Lush green trees surrounded the area, along with massive boulders larger than two fully grown men.

'That is where we need to be,' whispered Second Lieutenant Rinehart.

He was young, maybe 25, and he was part of the 197th Army Infantry Brigade. He pointed to an old abandoned house about a quarter of a mile away. They had to make their way through advancing columns of enemy troops and tanks and other enemy patrols in the area.

'Why do we need to be over there? Why can't we just go find this guy and take him out?' asked second Lieutenant Rinehart, who was the second sniper accompanying Captain Winston.

Captain Winston whispered in a low and harsh tone, 'Shhh. Why do you think I am whispering, 'cause I feel like it? You need to be a lot quieter or you're going to get us killed! There is some intel in that house left by our informant. It will help us find our target.'

Finally Winston and Rinehart were upon the house. The small one story house stood riddled with vine plants on the outer walls and broken windows. It seemed untouched for decades. As they opened the cracked, dark wooden door, it's hinges screamed almost loud enough for any troops in the immediate area to hear. Once inside they sifted through garbage and looked in cupboards and other places such as pots and jars. They found a letter that gave a detailed explanation of where Winston's and Rinehart's target would meet with his next buyer. It also included an up-to-date photo of Doc. He looked like an older man, wrinkled and bald with a gray beard. He wore a black leather jacket, with a white shirt underneath, black leather gloves, jungle style combat boots, and heavy black pants. Two bodyguards always accompanied him.

'The next deal will be held near an abandoned factory about 27 miles from here. Man I can't wait to take this guy out,' said Lieutenant Rinehart, with a hint of excitement in his voice.

As the two men readied themselves to leave the safety of the abandoned house, they dropped to the floor while the ground shook violently as enemy troops and tanks passed right outside the house. Captain Winston slowly approached the front door and cautiously opened it. As he did it screamed once again, but the roar of the engines and tracks of what sounded like enemy troop carriers or tanks drowned out the creaking of the door. His heart beat through his chest he as could see nearly 300 heavily armed enemy troops and around 17 Russian BMP troop carriers. As the troops passed, Winston waited for the right moment to dash out of the house to a tree line 200 yards from the house.


Winston and Reinhart bolted from the house and reached the tree line, narrowly escaping the enemy.

'Now that's what I'm talking about!' gasped Reinhart, as Winston and Reinhart maneuvered through a thick, wooded forest.

Slowly they started a gentle incline, and when Reinhart and Winston reached the top they heard a large splash and muffled voices of the enemy. The two men dropped down and began prowling their way through the dry landscape until they had a good overview of what was in front of them.

'I can make out about 9 of them. There are two next to that pond and a few more patrolling the area. We should try and sneak past.'

Before Winston could finish he heard the unmistakable muffled sound of Lieutenant Reinhart's M-24 fire a round at one of the men down range. Before Winston could say anything the man hit the ground with a thud and the rest scattered. One man had been killed. There were eight men left, and they had to be killed or the two sniper's secret would be found out by the rest of the enemy. Winston saw one of the men hiding behind an old abandoned helicopter and took him out with one shot to the head. Over the next couple of minutes Rinehart and Winston took out the remaining seven men.

'What in the world were you thinking Rinehart? You could have gotten us killed!' said Winston, with a hint of irritation in his voice.

'Those were civilians they were throwing into that pond!'

'That doesn't matter. We have a mission to complete. If you compromise us like that again I'll kill you myself!'

As Rinehart and Winston proceeded through the countryside, they came across a junkyard full of destroyed military vehicles. Eventually they reached the outskirts of the city where their target would hold his next meeting. Rinehart's heart exploded in his chest as he made his way through a small courtyard. He scanned the surrounding area. Rinehart yelled with a quick snap,

'HELICOPTER, GET DOWN!', Rinehart and Winston dropped to the ground and froze.

They could hear the whoop-whoop-whoop of the chopper's rotor blades, and they felt a large gust of wind hit them as it passed directly above them. When the sound of the chopper disappeared the two got up and proceeded with their mission. More apprehensive than ever, Rinehart was on the look out for anything.

'Watch out there's a wild dog ahead,' Winston warned.

Rinehart kept his gun on the animal until they were out of site.

'There is the target building, 150 yards straight ahead.'

Rinehart and Winston knew that there were enemy troops in the area, so to avoid being seen they low crawled the next 150 yards into a building that appeared to have been a large shopping mall. When they reached the back of the building Rinehart and Winston crouched. Rinehart approached a door and peered around the corner to ensure no troops would be on the first floor.

'It's all clear,' whispered Rinehart.

He and Winston then made their way through the first floor. When they reached a staircase leading to the second floor, Rinehart again peered around the corner of the doorway to ensure no enemy troops were there. He and Winston repeated this process until they reached the top story Rinehart un slung a .50 caliber Berretta M-107 sniper rifle which he had been carrying for just one shot he laid it down along with the photo of the target and waited.

'When does that letter say that the ol' doc will be here?' asked Rinehart.

'Be patient Lieutenant. I know you're not too good with that,' Captain Winston laughed.

The two snipers waited two and a half days for doc to show up. Finally troops began arriving about 1.5 miles down range. Rinehart glanced at the photo. Bald, black leather jacket, black heavy pants, jungle style combat boots, black leather gloves.

'Alright. I have eyes on the target. He is in the second vehicle. There is a red flag on the top of the car,' announced Captain Winston.

'Copy target in second vehicle with red flag,' replied Rinehart.

With the M-107's powerful scope Rinehart could easily make out every detail of all the men he aimed his rifle at and eventually his target exited his vehicle. Bald, gray beard, black jacket, gloves, pants, and jungle style combat boots.

'Yup that's the target,' Rinehart informed Winston, 'our target is carrying a briefcase', I'm not sure what is in it though.'

The target laid his briefcase down on a table set up directly in front of his vehicle. He opened it and revealed the case of money and blueprints.

'Okay we have a slight gust moving from east to west and distance to the target is 1.25 kilometers,' Winston informed Rinehart.

There was no response from Rinehart who at this point was ready to pull the trigger, At that moment a deafening shot rang out across the abandoned city. The bullet swerved to the right and hit a body guard. With the semi-automatic M-107 Rinehart was able to fire off one more round quickly enough to hit the target. Just as soon as Rinehart's bullet hit it's mark, a Russian Mil Mi 24 Hind hovered directly ahead of Rinehart and Winston.

'GET OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW!' shouted Winston.

As both men bolted down the stairs, they could hear the hissing of the hind as it unloaded it's payload of rockets into their building. They could feel the earth shake and the roof collapse on top of them. Rinehart and Winston slowly gained their conciseness and Rinehart pulled his comrade out of the rubble. He could hear the sound of enemy troops running towards his position so he and Winston moved as fast as they could away from the enemy.

Rinehart and Winston made their way through the city, knowing that the drop zone was on the outskirts of the city only three or four miles away from their position. With the thought of only three or four miles between freedom and death, Rinehart moved with more enthusiasm than ever.

'C'mon just two more miles to go,' Rinehart said, to motivate himself.

Just then he heard the sound of bullets ripping up the air around him. One bit him in the back of his leg, and he heard Winston hit the ground with a thud. He picked up his fallen commander and slung him over his shoulders and he fired with his pistol back at the enemy. He could feel a sting where the bullet hit him and warm blood oozing from his leg. I can't stop now. I can see the landing zone. The landing zone was in the middle of a courtyard area in a park. Rinehart found cover behind a stone wall and rested Winston against the wall.

'Mother bird, mother bird. This is Bravo 2. I have reached the LZ but Alpha 1 is out of commission. I have enemy troops all over my position!'

Rinehart was cut short as an enemy soldier charged his position. He shot the man at point blank range with his pistol.

'Bravo 2 this is Mother bird. We are inbound to your location in 30seconds.'

Rinehart picked up the fallen enemy's weapon and began to return fire on the enemy troops. He lobbed a grenade over the stone wall and heard the sound of a chopper touching down in the center of the courtyard.

The pilot shouted over the radio, 'YOU HAVE 45 SECONDS TO GET ON THIS BIRD BEFORE WE PULL OUT!'

Rinehart quickly reloaded his weapon and threw a flash bang into the enemy position. With Captain Winston slung over his shoulders, Rinehart stood and moved toward the chopper while firing at the enemy. Rinehart made it into the chopper and set Winston down on a seat as the chopper began to take off. Rinehart fired at the enemy until the clip was empty. The doors of the helicopter then closed. That was way too close! I almost got the Captain here killed, along with myself, and almost compromised the mission. Rinehart looked out the window at the beautiful Russian countryside.
(December 2008)

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