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Janet & Ashley - The Disastrous Trip to Hawaii

By Fatema, 11, Mombasa, Kenya

It was the beginning of summer and Janet Ashley Thompson (Ash) and I were in school listening to our Geography teacher give the most boring lecture ever. At last the bell rang. I leapt out of my seat and ran to the locker room with my twin sister Janet (Jan) right behind me. Janet and I are eleven. We have long blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. Janet is a bit taller than me. We are both extra keen on adventures. We love school but today was not the type of day I'd been hoping it would be. There were three days left of school before summer hols. When we went home that day there were two surprises in store.

After supper dad said, 'Tomorrow we are going to Hawaii. I have already got your permission slips for you to skip the remaining three days of school. Also, you'll be glad to know that cousin Joe is coming with us.' (Joe is thirteen).

I was so happy that I didn't know what to say. At last Janet said, 'That's great dad, thanks a lot'.

'We know just what's right for you after a long, hard school year,' laughed mum.

That night was very busy. We were packing when dad said, 'Hawaii is a great place for surfing so take your surf boards and whatever you need.'

Jan and I went to bed early but we couldn't sleep. Instead we got our laptops and started researching on Hawaii.

In the morning we loaded our luggage into the car. Dad strapped the surf boards on top of the car. We reached the airport half an hour before our flight. We bought some snacks and plenty of sweets, chocolates, gum and other junk, for the flight to Hawaii was long. We were sitting at the airport for fifteen minutes. Cousin Joe entered, panting with the weight of his luggage.

'Joe,' I cried, and the three of us did our triple handshake.

'Thank god there's still fifteen minutes left before the flight. I've to go get my luggage sorted out so we can't chat now but we'll sit together on the plane and I'll give you the latest updates,' said Joe.

I laughed.

We walked through the long passageway of the plane.

'Mum and I get the first class seats.'

'Not fair dad,' I said, making a face.

But in the end we all got to sit in first class. Mum and dad two seats behind Joe, Janet and I. The three of us were sitting in the first row of seats. I stuck my fingers into my ears while the plane took off.

'What's wrong?' asked Joe.

'Ear pressure,' I replied.

'Suck a sweet,' he said.

I did and it helped. Joe then told us a story about his adventures.

'I hope we have an adventure this time,' said Jan, her eyes sparkled.

'Whoa, whoa, whoa you're going too far Jan,' said Joe.

'I need a peaceful holiday for once,' I exclaimed.

'Fine you win,' Janet grumbled.

I winked at Joe

I could not sit still during the landing.

'I can't believe we're in Hawaii,' I told Jan.

'How many times will you say that? You sound like a parrot Ash,' snapped Janet.

Joe laughed.

'Don't call me a parrot,' I said.

The plane landed with a screech. I ran out of the plane even before the pilot finished saying goodbye. Jan was right behind me. The wind blew our hair back. The hotel bus came to pick us and a number of other people up.

That night we went to sleep as we were tired after our journey. We were lucky that cousin Joe was in the same room as the two of us. Because he was older, mum would never allow him to share a room with us but this time she did. The next morning we went to the beach and did a bit of surfing. This is fun I yelled. I watched as Joe rode a big wave.

'Cool,' I said.

He laughed.

The next day mum and dad said, 'Today we are going out in a boat. We'll go far out to sea and you can see fish'.

'Okay,' I said.

The three of us stuffed ourselves and then went for a walk around the hotel.

'There's a snooker room over here. Let's go check it out,' said Joe.

We watched a game of snooker and then trooped out again. We found mum and dad at the boat house.

'Which one should we take? There's Starfish, Crab, Andy, Misty and Lobster. The rest are all reserved,' said mum.

All three of us voted for Misty and so we took Misty although mum and dad insisted on Starfish.

We dragged the boat outside. Joe took the sail and Ashley held the oars. We all got in.

'Ash and Joe row first, then Janet and Joe, and finally Ash and Janet row,' said dad.

It was fun. Pretty soon we were far out and we could see the fish jumping up. When it wasn't our turn to row we would look at the fish. Mum and dad rested or read their magazines and newspaper or listened to the radio.

It was 11:00 and suddenly water came in the boat.

'There's a hole in the boat. A puffer fish did it with his spikes. I saw it swimming by,' yelled dad.

The boat started bending. Joe grabbed my hand to prevent me from slipping. Mum and Jan did a frantic search for the life jackets.

'They're not here,' yelled mum.

By now the water had reached our waists. Then an unexpected giant wave came and threw us out of the water filled boat!

I was thrown down with the wave. My body ached but I forced my self to the surface. I came out gasping. I could here the others panting. I swam towards mum and dad.

'What now?' sputtered Jan.

'Mum and I can't swim well and we certainly can't go anywhere as we are in the middle and the shore is too far,' said dad.

Mum went down but managed to rise again. My legs were aching like nothing and I could not keep up the treading water. I saw a piece of wood from the boat. I swam towards it and put my hands on it. At least I didn't have to tread water as the piece of wood was supporting me.

'Ash, you're a genius. We have to find pieces of wood and use them as a kick board to swim back to shore,' said Joe.

The three of us swam out looking for wood. Joe went under water and found a piece sinking. He grabbed it before it reached the bottom. He gave it to mum. I also found another piece floating a few strokes away. This one was smaller so I gave my old piece to dad and took the small piece. Jan found one piece but Joe didn't find any. We set off on our new kickboards. Joe swam next to me. After a while I gave him my kick board and swam. Jan gave me hers and swam.

By 1:00 we reached the shore. The boatman met us there. He was shocked to hear about how we got to shore. He was sad to know that his beautiful boat Misty was now a wreck at the ocean floor. Dad promised to pay him. Soon word went around about the accident. We went to our rooms. All of us ordered hot chocolate and then had a hot bath as we were full of sand and seaweed.

After we were comfortable Joe said, 'I've had enough adventures or rather disasters for a year. Why is it that things all ways turn up when the three of us are together?'

'I guess it's because we're all adventurous,' I laughed.

'Another adventure or maybe disaster over,' sighed Janet.
(November 2008)

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Janet & Ashley - Museum Adventure

By Fatema, 11, Mombasa, Kenya

'Mum can Ashley and I go to the mall?' I asked.

My twin sister Ashley and I were home for Easter holidays.

'Well, if you want to go to the mall you can but Cousin Joe is asking you to go over to London. His parents have gone abroad and he's alone,' said mum.

'When does he want us to go?' asked Ash.

'Today,' replied mum, 'if you pack your bags and go now you can get there by 11:00,' added mum.

We rushed off to our room and began packing.

At 11:00 sharp we stepped out of the train.

'Ash, Jan,' yelled a boy.

'Joe,' we shouted together.

'Welcome to London girls,' said the thirteen year old Joe.

'So, what's this case about?' I asked.

'A museum robbery,' said Joe.

'Why did you call us?' said Ash.

'This case is tough and without you girls I'll be lost in space,' said Joe.

We laughed.

The next morning Joe took us to the museum.

'There was a big statue of the pharaoh. The statue was of real gold and there were precious stones set in it. There was an alarm around it and yet it was stolen. I figure it must be someone who works for the museum and knows the alarm code. They must have switched off the alarm using the code and then stolen it,' said Joe. 'I have a list of all the people who work in the museum along with their finger prints,' he added.

Joe took us to the place where the statue had been before it got stolen. Ashley and I began with finger printing.

'We got them,' I cried.

We matched them up with the finger prints Joe had.

'None of these match,' I said.

'I think we have an unknown suspect,' said Ashley.

We continued examining the place. As we were walking into another room I spotted a piece of crumpled brown paper. I picked it up and slid it in my pocket.

Back at Joe's house I read the note aloud. It said:

'This is a super important clue. D.H probably asked K.T to find the alarm code number.'

'What luck that you found this Jan,' said Joe.

'Well this also proves that there are two people in this robbery,' said Ash.

'There could be more as it would need a lot of shabby hands to do something like this,' I cried.

'I think the finger prints didn't match to any of the suspects on my list because someone else took the statue. One person must have entered the alarm code while the other kept everyone distracted by pretending to be hurt or something. The last fellow took the statue. The two escaped through the crowd. The third one must have escaped somehow,' wondered Joe.

'That's it Joe. Well done,' Ashley and I cried.

'But now we have to find out who these three or more people are?' I said.

'We'll go back to the museum tomorrow,' said Joe, firmly.

We played monopoly for the rest of the afternoon. I won as I am super good in monopoly. Ashley and Joe had to pay me so much rent until they were broke. We had dinner at home. Joe cooked lasagna. I must admit Joe is a fantastic cook.

The next morning we went to the code room. I went to the code breaker machine. Ash and I switched the machine off and began finger printing. This time we got a match.

'These prints are the same ones as Jacob Smith's the machines supervisor,' I said.

'I bet he told K.T the code and K.T told D.H,' said Joe.

'It would be easy since he's in charge of all machines and the code breaker is one of them,' Ashley remarked.

That night Joe took us to a famous restaurant called. London's Eat all you can. We found a table next to a man. He had a shock of blonde hair, a deep voice and a trim beard. We were stuffing ourselves. The food was lovely. A phone started ringing. It was one belonging to the man next to us. He flipped it open.

'K.T speaking,' he said.

I choked.

'They're right here' he said. 'Yes I know I'm not a baby,' he said into the phone. 'We have to keep on doing this until they're fed up,' he continued. 'Bye'.

He snapped his phone shut, paid the bill and half walked, half ran out.

'So that's our man,' I said.

'Could be,' said Joe as we walked out.

The three of us chatted on. When we reached the house there was a note stuck on the main gate. Joe read it and his face became pale.

'Joe, are you alright?' I asked.

He handed me the letter and I read it. It said:

Joe, you better get of the case or it will be too bad because you'll have to see your cousins in BIG trouble.

Ashley read it and fell silent.

We entered the house.

'Why would our suspect threaten us?' wondered Ashley.

'Because we're too close to solving the mystery,' said Joe. 'Besides I'm not risking it and I'm getting off the case. I don't want anything to happen to you,' he said, firmly.

'Joe' we cried, 'it'll ruin your detective reputation,' I said.

'Please don't quit Joe,' begged Ash.

'Ok but only if you two promise to be careful.'

'Promise,' we said together.

The next morning we found the same note again. We made a list of all the people who were at the museum on the day of the robbery.

'Okay, let's cross out all the ones that are not D.H,' I said.

We were left with five names. The museum didn't have their fingerprints so we couldn't use that trick.

'How about if we interview them?' Joe asked.

'I don't get you,' I said.

'We could find out what they like, for example, sports. You two are unknown here in London. You can pretend to be a new sportswoman in town and ask him if he could help train you. That way we can find out more,' said Joe.

'Great idea,' said Ash.

Ashley had been to interview Darwin the school canteen person. Ashley pretended to like to cook and so she borrowed his best cook book. Darwin had a twin Darrin and both of them were certainly not the thieves. I had been to interview Dave Hammer, the Historian. I had asked Dave for a small statue of the sphinx. I rushed with it back to the museum. I was very suspicious of Dave and he had showed many signs of lying and he kept changing the subject. I saw a letter written and the handwriting were the same as on the threatening note.

At the museum I searched for fingerprints on the sphinx while Ashley searched for finger prints on the book. I matched the prints to the ones Ash and I had taken where the statue had been.

'Look, Dave Hammers prints match these ones,' yelled Joe.

We told the police. Dave was arrested and so were the rest of the gang. He had been forced to tell who the rest of the gang was and where the statue was. The statue was returned to the museum.

'All ends well' I said.

'Well I'm glad I didn't quit on this case,' said Joe.

The three of us laughed.

'The end of a wonderful adventure,' I cried.
(November 2008)

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Short Story

By Kennedy, 12, Nicholasville, KY, USA

'Boo hoo, boo hoo,' Alex cried, 'I lost my favorite pair of crocs.'

'Well, what am I suppose to do about it?' mom yelled, 'because I'm not going to buy you a new pair.'

Alex is twelve years old and is in love with crocs, they are his favorite kind of shoes. He sometimes mix matches them to match his clothes or just to wear them. He has every single color that the store has ever made.

That night when Alex was lying in his bed looking at the multi-colored walls with the word 'crocs' written all over, he saw a shadow on his wall. He was too scared to get up and see what it was. He thought that it was just going to be some clothes on his floor that was making the shadow but it wasn't. As soon as Alex sat up to see what it was, a big green crocodile popped up and ate him into another world.

When he woke up he was in a bright yellow, green, blue world full of rubbery things. He hadn't seen this place before or the things in it. He didn't even know why he was here. Then he remembered he came here to find his lost crocs. Well at least that's what he thought he was here for.

'Why am I here?' Alex cried out.

'Please don't yell if you are going to be here then you can't be scared,' whispered the big crocodile.

'Well I need to know why I'm here.'

'You are here because you need to find your soul mate.'

'And who would that be?'

'I don't know, that's for you to find out.'

Alex searched through croc world to find his soul mate. As Alex was walking he ran into the yellow, blue, and pink Croc Castle. Alex was kind of scared to go inside the castle because he didn't know who was inside there. As he walked inside, he saw purple walls covered with pictures of bright colorful crocs and people. They looked really happy together. While Alex was walking, he ran into a big red croc that gave you a coin. On the coin there was a word 'crocs'. Alex didn't know what this meant. As he walked there was another big croc, this time the croc talked, so he asked,

'What does this mean?'

'This tells you who your soul mate is or something that you could live with forever,' replied the shoe.

'So you're telling me, that crocs are my soul mate?'

'Yeah, if that's what the coin said; the coin never lies.'

'Oh well, ok then.'

As Alex walked he didn't know where else to go. He saw a tree with croc growing off of it, he decided to go and sit beside the tree, sitting there he watched the flowers bloom out two new green pairs of crocs, this reminded him of the crocodiles. Alex began to think about going home and seeing his family and his crocs again. He began to cry and the green crocodile popped up.

'Why are you crying?'

'I just want to go home.'

'Well do you not like it here or something?'

'Oh no I do, its just I want to go home.'

'Well ok, if you fall asleep then when you wake up, you will be at home.'



'Okay, thank you so much.'


As Alex was lying under the tree, he fell into a deep, deep sleep. He dreamed about the beautiful trees and flowers. He pictured himself picking green rubbery crocs off the ground and sliding them on his cold tiny feet. Running faster and faster through the croc forest trying to get out.

He heard a voice in the distance it was coming closer and closer. He didn't know if it was the dream or in real life. The voice became louder and louder then he felt a hand on his arm, he jumped really quickly, and who was this?


'Yes honey why were you yelling?'

'Didn't you miss me?'

'Well I guess, but you didn't go anywhere,'

'Oh, I didn't ?'

'No honey, just go back to sleep.'

That morning when Alex woke up he was back home again. He walked down the stairs and by the front door were his crocs, the ones that he was missing. He was so happy the he was back home and that he found his soul mate.
(November 2008)

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Last Minute Pass

By Dillon, 12, Nicholasville, KY, USA

Jerry couldn't believe what had happened yesterday. He was crushed. After that day everyone at school said junk to him no matter what he did. What bugged him the most was that he knew he was going to be 2nd string starting at practice. All he ever heard at school was, 'Why can't you be like your father?!' He knew he could never be as good as him. He would never throw a pass that long or make touchdowns 5 times in a row. This was going to be a bad practice he knew.

After school he went on to the field. They told him they were going to watch the game on tape. Jerry's heart sunk deep into his chest. He walked to the coach's room where he knew he was getting a bad case of embarrassment. It looked like he was the first one there.

The coach looked up, 'How's it going Jerry?'

'Good I guess, are we having practice today sir?'

'Yeah, after we watch the tape,' Coach said. 'Are you ok after yesterday? You look worried.'

Jerry said, 'I'm a little shook up but I'll live.'

'I know it must be hard for you but all quarterbacks have off games, don't get down over one game. Learn from it.'

'Ok I feel a little better, but I don't think I can watch that again.'

'You'll be fine, like I said, learn from your mistakes.'

The other players came rolling in. 'Every one take a seat. Settle down or you all are running!'

'Yes sir!'

It echoed through the building. Jerry rushed to a seat next to one of his good friends on the team. They didn't make eye contact nor spoke to one another. The film came on starting at the game when they were coming out onto the field. They watched and watched, however Jerry was watching it like it was a horror film.

'Ok everyone get out on the field and get your gear on.'

'Yes sir!'

Jerry was surprised he was still quarterback! He tried and tried but no use each play got worse as he went. When practice was over his dad picked him up.

'How was practice?'

Jerry didn't even answer.

'You know, we're having your favorite tonight!'

Jerry still blocked him out. From then on it was silent. Weeks passed nothing changed. They lost 4 games over the couple of weeks. Finally Jerry was 2nd string. It looked like the coach had given up on him. Jerry kept getting picked on especially by the new quarterback. After a few games were won, hope came for the football team. But not Jerry.

One night his dad came in to his room, 'Jerry, I know you're depressed but keep on working at it! It will get better trust me.'

'I already did with this football thing. Now see where it got me, the laughing stock of my school.'

His dad was astonished by the reply.

'Well you deserve to be on 2nd string any way, you'll never be as good as your old man ever was!'

That turned Jerry on like a match being lit.

'Well you know what? I'll show you. I'll show you all I'm as good as you. In fact I'm going to be better then you!'

That next day Jerry was a Tom Brady! He was doing so well that practice, he took down anyone who got in his way. He even scored a couple of touchdowns from interceptions. When the players came at him, they could see the determination in his eyes like he was playing the super bowl. When practice was over the coach wanted to talk with him.

'Jerry that was an amazing practice today! I told you to learn from your mistakes! You looked like a NFL star.'

'Thank you coach that means a lot.'

Jerry knew that wasn't practice he had to be good in but in the games, and his last chance was the rival game against the Yellow Back Bears. It was their last game of the season. He would be the highlight of his season big time. But how will he get in for quarterback? When his dad came, Jerry didn't want him to know. He wanted it to be a surprise at the game so he told him nothing.

After a couple of the awesome practices, the game finally came. It was the biggest and most nerve wrecking game of the season. The Ocean Coast Falcons vs. the Yellow Back Bears. The school was covered with posters saying 'Beat the Bears!', 'Good luck Tonight' etc. The school's blue and white colors were everywhere. The pep rally came and the audience was like an ocean waving back and forth of blue and white. That day got Jerry even more pumped up wanting to win for the school plus showing everyone he isn't horrible at all.

He came home and his dad was colored in blue and white paint. His mom seemed embarrassed. He suited up and went to the game with all his emotions made into excitement and anger for the game. Thinking that team is the only thing standing in his way to win the football game. He was ready for this- the moment of his life, his life highlight. The crowd was half blue white and half yellow red. You could hear the fans screaming and yelling left and right. And then and there the game started and the team emerged from a giant football helmet. Jerry was ready for this day -he was born ready. He had to be on the side lines watching his team mates get to collide with the Bears.

'Touchdown Ocean Coast Falcons!!' The crowd cheered with joy and some with boos. 'The extra point is good!'

The punt was kicked and it was caught by the Bear's Jack Grant.

'He is moving like a bullet people! He is going, he is going and he's gone! The extra point is good!'

Tie game. It came to forth quarter and the Falcons got a fumble off the Bears. But the Falcons quarterback had pulled his hamstring! This was Jerry's time to shine.

'Coach put me in!' Jerry said, with excitement.

'You think you can pull it off Jerry?' Even though the coach already knew the answer.

'Yes sir you bet I can!'

'Then get out there!'

'Yes sir!'

The announcer said, 'Jerry Johnson is coming in to take Tyler Dickson's spot!'

Here goes my chance. He looked up at the clock and saw 30 seconds left on the time.

'Perfect, just the right amount of time! Ok guys do Wing 42 sweep.'

'Ok you better be right Jerry or you will pay.'

'Oh I'm right, on two! Do not jump! Break!'

'Down set hut, hut hike!'

The ball flew to Jerry's hands. He looked and his friend Johnny was open. He threw it but no good. He tried that two more times but no good. They had to punt. The Bears got the punt then got tackled right when he caught it. Jerry was able to stay in as an outside linebacker. The Bears threw it and there was Jerry's starting highlight of his life and season. He got an interception! He blocked everything out and concentrated on one thing, a touchdown. Only 10 seconds to go!

Jerry used every move he knew to get past the Bears. Spins, twirls, and even jumps! 5 seconds to go, the target was in eye view and touchdown!

'Jerry Johnson has scored the winning touchdown for the Falcons!'

The team lifted him like he was a feather and they cheered with such joy! Then after the celebration he was back on first string! His dad ran towards him and yelled, 'I knew you could do it!'

Jerry Johnson stayed on the team as quarterback. Then he went on to college and played for the University of California. Like his father he was a legend from Ocean Coast High School. The Bears Vs Falcons game was the highlight of his high school seasons. Each year gets better and better. So never give up and you could maybe be a legend just like Jerry Johnson.
(November 2008)

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The Job Interview

By Dexter , 12, Nicholasvile,KY, USA

'Ha, he is shorter than anyone I know! What a loser!' The heavy-set child yelled at Kaserg.

Kaserg was only 10, and didn't know how to handle this. There were 8 kids staring at him, like they were waiting for him to do a trick.

'Hey!' A distant voice yelled at the kids.

'Uh-oh,' one of the kids murmured.

'If you kids have something to say to my little brother, you can say it to me as well,' Kaserg's brother, Ketro said in a well-toned voice. All of the kids scattered off into the rest of the neighborhood.

Kaserg awoke in a grey room, with one mirror. His child hands were now replaced with larger, more ragged ones. He had forgotten why he was here. He tried to remember, but collapsed to the ground, and passed out.

Kaserg was on his way home from his job training to be a tactical assassin. It was 1:00 A.M. and was pitch black on the street. Tomorrow he would have his training complete, and hopefully be hired. He saw a poor beggar on the sidewalk, on the other side of the street. He remembered what it was like to be poor, and started to walk across the street. As he was halfway through the street, he pulled out his wallet, and grabbed a few dollar bills, but a few hundred dollar bills caught the beggar's eye. Kaserg handed the man the money.

'God bless you sir,' the beggar said, but he had other ideas.

Kaserg walked away, and towards his apartment, which was about 2 miles away by now. He heard foot steps behind him. He could see out of the right corner of his eye, that the beggar was gone; he knew what was going on. The foot steps got closer, and more rapid. A hand came over Kaserg's throat, but before the beggar could call for help, he was tossed from behind Kaserg, 10 feet ahead. That training really worked.

Kaserg awoke in the same grey room, this time, sitting in a chair with his hands cuffed behind the chair. He was at a table, and there was a man on the other end. The man glanced at Kaserg, with his jet-black sunglasses.

'Do you know why you're in here?' The strange face asked.

'To tell the truth, no, what is this?' Kaserg asked, squinting his eyes at the light above his head.

'Well, a man tha...'

The voice gradually faded until Kaserg passed out again.

The man slid across the ground, hitting his head on the side of a building. 'What do you want?' Kaserg questioned.

It started to rain.

'I want those 7 hundred dollar bills in your wallet.'

The man got up, pulling a knife out of his pocket. Kaserg, pulled what looked to be a small metal object out of his coat pocket, about the length of a ruler.

He swung it in the air, and it extended into a long slender rod.

'This rod is made of arcanium ore, only found in the center of gas planets; sure you want to mess with me?'

The man just charged at him with the knife. It was pouring rain now. Kaserg had never had such reflex, the man threw the knife at his head, but automatically swung his rod into the air at the knife, and it just bounced off. Then the beggar ran at him, without even thinking, Kaserg pointed his sword straight forward. The man fell into it, having his chest stabbed clear through.

Kaserg felt a prick in his arm, and woke up. He was still in the same chair, and position, he was in before. A needle came out of his arm.

'There, that should keep you awake during the trial.'

'What trial?' Kaserg said, unknowingly.

'The one where you'll be charged with 1st degree murder of Tom Jones.'

Kaserg was uncuffed, only to be cuffed again after he was out of the chair.

'Now you'll go see the judge.'

'Don't I have the right to a lawyer?'

'I am your lawyer.'

Kaserg was practically dragged down a hallway, by his apparent 'lawyer'. He saw many court rooms, and eventually was, carried into one of the smaller ones, it had no jury.

'Honorable judge, where is the jury?'

'In the year 3012, for murder, we don't use juries any more.'

He was then sat in a seat, next to his lawyer. On the other side of the room, there was a crying woman, next to a man in a suit, with a briefcase.

The other lawyer quickly said, 'Kaserg Kronos did you, consciously and willingly, commit the murder of Tom Jones?'

'Ummm, I guess, bu-'

'No further questions.'

'It is my opinion,' the judge said, 'that Kaserg should be sentenced to the death penalty, for 1st degree murder of Tom Jones!'

Just as the judge was about to hit her gavel, the door literally burst open. There was a man wearing a suit, he ran up to the judge and whispered in her ear for a few seconds.

'Ah, I see. Okay, Kaserg, you will have a decision made for you by the Government.'

The judge now hit her gavel. Kaserg was then led outside, by the man who had burst into the room. They started walking toward a black car.

'Look, we know what really happened there, that night, and we want to give you your freedom to do that job you were going to get hired for, you still have that weapon?'

'I think it's still at the police station,' Kaserg said.

'Wait, never mind it's right here. I picked it up at the station.'

He pulled out the small metal stick, and handed it to Kaserg. They arrived at the car. They both got in the car, into the back of it, there already was a driver. Kaserg felt the drug start to wear off, and all the built up exhaust in his body crashed down on him.

Kaserg later woke up in the same car, when the man nudged him.

'Hey hard sleeper, you were asleep the whole ride, so I didn't even need to cover your head on our way to the secret CIA HQ!'

'Ummm, ok!' Kaserg said, with more confidence than he'd had in a long time. They got out of the car and started to walk up to the small tunnel entrance.

'Remember that instructor that taught you those reflexes, and gave you that arcanium rod?'

'No not really.'

'Yes, you see after he taught you, did he give you any kind of consumable?'

'Well, yes actually he gave me a glass of water.'

'Precisely, after he gave you that, your memory would be wiped of your training with him, all you would think was that you were taught with a computer, like a CIA operative. They never get that kind of training to where they are as good as you.'

'You mean you are telling me that, I have the best fighting skills in the world?' Kaserg asked, excitedly.

'Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.'

They were now in a tunnel, they walked to a door. The still unknown man opened the door and let Kaserg inside.

'Aren't you coming with me?' Kaserg asked.

'No, I'm not allowed down in the office,.' he said, as the elevator doors closed around Kaserg, and the man walked off. Down? Kaserg thought. The quiet elevator music played as the elevator sped down. It felt like it was going at over 100 miles per hour.

The elevator stopped, but the doors did not open. Now it felt like the elevator was moving sideways. Eventually it stopped and the doors opened. Now in front of Kaserg, was a rather large conference room. The table was oval shaped, and there was one chair on the side of it the elevator was on. On the other side there was another chair; in it was a man that was bald, wearing black glasses, and a black suit.

'Come in, come in, and take a seat,' the man said.

Kaserg walked up to the chair and sat down. The man explained: 'I've read your records, you are just the man we need. We have two men we need killed, one, a man who killed 10 citizens to rob a bank, and over 100 of our men, trying to arrest him. The other, he is the leader of an opposing planet's alliance: The WindMoon clan. That clan has been at war with earth for 53 years.'

'So what if I kill them both?'

'You will have the job of Lead Tactical Mercenary.'

'Sir, you can just sit back and relax, those guys will be dead in less than 24 hours!' Kaserg promised.

'All good, all good,' the man said as he walked off into a door in the back of the conference room. Kaserg then got up and walked into the elevator.

The elevator didn't go up; it went down more, until it stopped. The doors opened, and Kaserg saw a lab filled with men in white lab coats. He walked in not knowing of what any of this was.

'Oh, you must be the new recruit,' one of them said, 'this is where we give you gear for your missions.'

'Wow, that's pretty classic,' Kaserg said, jokingly. The man led him to a table with black body armor, and a mask, with a visor on it.

'Now, here we have a full set of Dreadnaught t5 armor for you. It is light, for your reflexes. And the mask, well, it has state of the art setting detector, that has heat detection, and info points. Here try it on.'

The scientist put the mask on Kaserg, and he saw through it clear, until the man pressed a switch on the side of it, then the vision turned red, and somehow, Kaserg instantly knew how to use it.

He saw small X's on all things of interest, on an air duct, it had an X that said, 'Possible escape route'.

'Well, you better put this on and get going.'

So Kaserg just slid the body armor on over his clothes and walked to the elevator.

The mask told him what to do on his way up the elevator, but he wondered how he would get to the first criminal. Then, all of a sudden, I felt strange, and then started to see another place; his molecular structure was breaking down. He soon appeared next to a door, on a house that was run down. The mask told him it was the one that killed 100s of CIA men. Kaserg went up to the door and slid out his arcanium rod. It glowed blue.

He kicked down the door and yelled, 'You may have killed all those other agents, but I'm different!'

'Not so different,' a strange voice whispered. 'You are mortal, you shall die!'

Just then a snake flew towards his head. Just as he predicted, he unknowingly, ran his weapon down the middle of the snake. It fell to the ground, in 2 pieces. Both pieces then grew back into 2 separate snakes. They both said at the same time, 'It is not that simple. This must be the guy that killed those CIA men.'

And so it went on, snake after snake, slice after slice, until eventually there were thousands of snakes. By now, Kaserg had cuts all over him, bites and scratches. Eventually he wanted to give up, but he remembered the mask, he had it turned off! He flipped it on, and the info points told him exactly what to do. He had to crush the snakes, not slice then in half. He felt stupid that he didn't think of it before.

So, he eventually crushed all but one. It didn't speak, but he heard it say in his mind, 'You are too strong for me, I will subside.'

Just then the last snake dematerialized into thin air. He had killed the first target.

The mask knew what to do. He soon, predictably, appeared at another house, this one seemed to be on the terraformed mars, and it now had oxygen, water, and supported natural life. This house was not run down at all; in fact it looked familiar.

He knew this one would be easy to take out. He rang the doorbell, and waited. And he waited. And eventually he heard footsteps. He pulled out his weapon and prepared. The man opened the door. It was Ketro.

Both of them didn't know what to do. Neither of them had seen each other in years. And that just brings up further questions, what Ketro did to get where he is.

'Ketro, I haven't seen you in years,' Kaserg asked.

'And I haven't seen you in years,' Ketro relied.

'How did you end up in the WindMoon clan?' Kaserg asked.

'Well, it started when you moved out of the house right after you went to collage. When you did that our parents encouraged me to find a job, and move out as well. I went looking for a job, but I couldn't pass the job interview on any of them. I finally found one that I passed on, and it was working in a core power plant, they use energy from the core of planets to power things. We were doing fine on Earth, until the core burned out; we had used all the energy it had. The reason it was being done on Earth was because all the other planets except Mars, because it was the home world of the WindMoon clan. The executives decided to outsource us to Mars, but before we could do that, we had to join the clan. We all were forced to, or we would lose our jobs. After a year of working on Mars, the leader of the WindMoon clan died. As accustomed to the clan, they consulted an Oracle to decide the best suitor. The Oracle picked me, and 4 months later, is now.'

Ketro askee,'How did you end up here, and what were you doing with that arcanium rod?'

'Well, I too had trouble finding a job; I found one that I could do: Tactical Assassin. I was on my way home after the end of the training, and a guy tried to mug me, I killed him, and for my life I have to take 2 others, one of them is yours.'

'You can't be serious?!' Ketro, exclaimed.
'Well you are the leader of the WindMoon clan,' Kaserg told him.

'Have you noticed there haven't been any attacks on earth in 4 months!?' Ketro exclaimed.

'Kill him, and save your life,' the mask told Kaserg.

'KILL HIM OR I WILL KILL YOU!' The mask yelled into his head.

'Is something wrong, Kaserg?' Ketro asked.

'Ahhhhh!' Kaserg yelled.

He then ripped the mask off of his head. He threw it on the ground, and cut it in half with the rod.

'I am going to call the CIA right now and tell them the WindMoon clan has given up war.'

Kaserg called them and told them while Ketro was telling the town's people about the war, and how it was over. Both alliances accepted and they were now at peace.

1 year later...

Ketro held down the drug dealer, while Kaserg put the handcuffs on him. '

Well that was some capture ,huh?' Ketro said.

'Sure was. Let's get him back to HQ,' Kaserg said.

They threw him in the back of the car and drove down the road to CIA HQ.

'You guys are unstoppable!'

The leader of the CIA said to Kaserg and Ketro. 'As you know, I must resign from the CIA today, because of my age, and I have to pick a suitor to my place in the CIA.' The leader explained, 'I want to pick you, both of you; you have become better than me, and the rest of the team. I hope you do well.'

The leader got up and handed them two badges that said: CIA lead operative.

They both said in unison, 'Yes sir.'
(November 2008)

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Encounter With Dinosaurs

By Dean , 11, Ta' l-Ibrag, Malta

It all happened in the woods of Hong Kong in China, when the meteorite hit the Earth. They say that the meteorite hit America but they are wrong. How do you think that parts of waters are deep and some not that much? What about the difference between oceans and lakes? Our religion says that it hit the water where today stands the North Pole, the very north.

Millions of years later people thought that all dinosaurs were dead but they were wrong and I can prove it. I'm Kazonirika Utaka, first chief and promoted commander sent to Hong Kong with a crew of 4000 armed men, 3996 of them professionals. Five huge ships were needed to carry us together with weapons. They say that Hong Kong is filled with cannibals. We were on the move and as we arrived there, there was a movement in the sea. We unloaded the cargo and built ourselves a camp. By night there were waves. Suddenly from the north, a huge wave was coming towards us. It was like the biggest tsunami in the world. At a distance I could see five strange figures but when they came nearer I could see that they were dinosaur heads.

'But it's impossible!' someone shouted.

The huge monsters came on land. They were exactly like dinosaurs but they had flippers. They came next to us and we made a fast flight. They chased us killing those whom they caught and sucked their blood and threw the bodies away. As we finally arrived in a cave we armed ourselves, and all went out and started shooting the enormous animals. One of them tried to grab me but I threw a bomb in his mouth. It exploded and from his mouth came a strange substance. It looked like blood. Some of it landed on one of my men and I soon discovered that it was acid. Shortly after the big animal's eyes disappeared and popped out of the animal's nostrils. When the other four monsters saw their friend's critical state they swam away.

With the high waves, the ships sunk so we had to scout the land. But before we could do anything, surrounding us were thousands of cannibals. Luckily, years ago, I had been adopted by a cannibal who was their leader. I spoke their language and they took me to him. His name is Kuwazlos Artegor. I told him that we meant no harm. I also said that we could help them. He only laughed, and then replied that they ate small dinosaurs but the big ones were always a threat.

Before our conversation could end, there was a loud roar. It was him, the one all cannibals feared. It was King Kong Jr. He killed everyone who obstructed his way.

'Utaka!' one of my men shouted, 'there's a huge nose there.'

And before my very eyes I saw two huge Allosaurus. They ran to kill us all. We tried shooting them but it was of no use. They gnashed their teeth, came close to us and started crushing my men inside their mouths, ripping us humans apart, and squashing others under their feet. It was a good thing we had bazookas. We shot many rockets at them and finally they were dead.

After a couple of days we encountered a Pteredontausaurus who was a medium sized dinosaur but he did not fight although he was a meat eater. He was the leader's pet. From 4000 men, we were now 1744. At night, a soldier travelling in a helicopter came to check how we were doing. As he was landing a strange thing happened. A huge hairy hand grabbed the helicopter, our only means of escape. Also, a small meat-eating dinosaur came in front of us. I took out my sniper and the pilot took out his pistol. We ran and shot the animal at the same time. As we kept running, the other man fell on the ground. I could do nothing about it. I climbed onto a tree and shot the animal but it was of no use. The bullets were all shot. All I could do was watch my friend die. Blood on the ground spread as the animal ate with loud noises. The Pteredontausaurus heard the noises and came to investigate. He and the animal that chased us were ready to fight. Artegor's pet, Plont who was triple the size of his opponent.

It was a deadly fight but finally Plont ripped the dinosaur's neck from his body. We shot back to camp. I sat on Plont's back as he ran as fast as he could.

After a minute or so, there before us was the massive animal known as King Kong Jr. He didn't eat us but he just sat on the ground sadly. Then something odd happened. He began to talk!

He said, 'Oh how could it happen? Hey human, wait, I won't eat you! Can you help me? I've lost my wife's egg. If you find it for me I'll send you back to your land. Please, the egg's colour is blue at the top, red at the bottom with yellow stripes.'

King Kong Jr. was twenty times taller than an Allosaurus. After a couple of hours we found it, but it was guarded by four of the same species that attacked Plont. Plont made a weird noise. Those four came directly to us. Plont went from the other side, I took the egg and we ran back to Jr. The egg was the size of a chicken's but very heavy.

All of a sudden we saw a T-Rex. He ran after us. He got hold of my feet. Blood everywhere but as he was going to strike again there was Kong on him. His massive body squashed the king of the dinosaurs.

'Thanks for getting the egg my friend.'

He broke Rex's mouth and threw the body off a cliff. As he promised he took me and all my crew back to America. I said goodbye to my cannibal friends and soon after we were in the deep ocean. We arrived in America in no time. Kong was a really good swimmer.

When we arrived I went straight home, thinking of the adventure as the worst experience ever.
(November 2008)

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The Mortans

By Martha, 9, Liversedge, West Yorkshire, UK

Martha woke up. And then her life changed forever. Her bed opened, and she fell, down... down... until she came to a halt. She was sat on a chair. And around her several other children, looking like the same age as her, sat, as confused as she. Then a woman entered the room. She was young and pretty. A final child popped into the final seat.

The woman said, 'Welcome! Welcome to the world of Mortans.'

There was a murmur in the room, then silence. A girl put up her hand, trembling.

'Miss, what are Mortans, miss?'

The woman smiled, 'Aha. No need to call me Miss, Mortans... well, you are Mortans,' she said.

'But we are not Mortans Mi... I mean, but we are not Mortans.'

The woman smiled yet again, 'You don't know it, but you are. Every month a fresh batch of 9 year olds get transported here. All are unaware of their powers. I am a Mortan. I started off just like you, sitting alone in this room. You are Mortans, like a human in their looks... but unlike a human with their powers. The only visual thing that sets apart a Mortan and a Human is a scar on their back. Who has got a scar on their back shaped like an eye?'

Everyone raised their hands.

'See? You are Mortans. Now, you are in Mortan Sorteena at the moment. Sorteena is a school in Mortan language. This is where you will sleep.

A boy interrupted, 'But, Miss, what about our families? Our friends? OUR WHOLE LIFE?' he remarked.

'Every week, on a Friday night you will visit home. You will stay there for the weekend and come back on Monday. That way you can visit family and friends. It is 9:00am now. You are going to be sent home, before your parents get worried. You will be accompanied by an adult who will explain everything to your parents. You will be sent back to this room at 5:00pm today, when you have packed your bags. Your parents will be given photos of the school so they can approve and sign the forms. When you come back you will be sitting on these exact seats, and I will answer any further questions until 5:30. At 5:30 I will escort you to the dining hall, where you will eat your tea and at 6:15 you will be escorted to your rooms, where your luggage will be waiting. You will unpack and then you will go to the dining room to collect your uniform, which you must put on in your rooms. You will then come back to the dining hall and you will be sorted into Mombles, a 'house' in Mortan words. You will be notified of which houses there are then. You then can either hang around in your rooms or go to an entertainment area, such as the TV room, where a movie will be on, the swimming pool, the games room... at 10:00pm then everyone must be in their rooms, and lights off. In the morning it is Tuesday. Breakfast is at 8:30- 9:30. You will be given details on what to do next.'

Martha sunk into her chair and found herself, fully dressed, in her room, accompanied by a woman. Martha went downstairs with her and the woman told her to wait outside the kitchen while she explained everything to her parents. After about half an hour waiting outside the door she could come in.

Her mum smiled, 'We're proud of you, sweetie,' she said, 'you better pack your things while we fill out the forms.'

Martha went out of the room, and upstairs. 'So much has happened in such a short space of time,' she thought.

'What should I pack?' she thought.

Well, she would be coming home next weekend, she could top up on clothes then. So she packed a week's worth of clothes, pyjamas and underwear. She packed a toothbrush and her watch. Finally, she had packed and she went downstairs, holding three suitcases. Her parents smiled at her.

'Shall we have breakfast?' she poured milk on a bowl of bran flakes.

Finally it was 5:00. Her parents kissed her goodbye, and the same woman who had explained everything to her parents whipped her back into the world of Mortans. She was sitting on the same seat as she had last time. The woman stood up at the front.

'Now as I said earlier, is there any questions?' she said.

Several people raised their hands. The woman pointed at a girl on the front row.

'What's your name, Miss?' she said.

'My name's Karen. And stop calling me Miss,' Karen answered.

She pointed at a boy on Martha's row.

'Err... um... well... do we have room mates... and, um what are... are rooms... like?' he said.

'I knew that one would be coming up. One, yes, you will have room mates. There are three in a room and two, you'll be pleased to know they're a form of luxury. You will each have a high sleeper with a desk, a laptop and pencils, pens, all the stationary, so you can do homework... and play. There are also three changing rooms next to the wall so you can change. There is another room attached, the shower room, where there are three shower cubicles, three sinks, and a toilet cubicle. They are very nice. There is a small TV on a shelf at the other side of the room, but if you want a bigger screen and a movie then you'll have to go into the TV room. Sounds good, eh?' Karen smiled, 'now, no more questions. Can everyone please leave their luggage where it is? I will escort you to the dining room'

Everyone lined up behind Karen and she walked down a corridor, it just seemed like a normal school. There were doors marked 'Class 5', 'Class 17', just normal. Martha had expected things like 'The potion room', but this was just normal. They finally reached the dining hall. They stopped outside the doors.

'Now, you can sit anywhere you like. Just eat what you want, and if they stare at you, don't stare back,' Karen said.

They walked in, and the first thing Martha looked at was the uniform the students were wearing. It was just like a normal humans clothing. They wore a red zip up cardigan with the school logo, and some were just wearing yellow polo shirts with the logo. Boys were wearing yellow shorts and girls a yellow skirt. Mostly everyone was wearing trainers. She sat down. It was just normal food. Pizza, yummy! Once they had eaten the 'newbies' had to come up to the front, while the rest of the hall filed out to their rooms. Martha lined up at the front. Karen read out the rooms and roommates.

'Jack B, Tom F, and Jim I, Room 1.'

The boys filed out to their room.

'Molly E, Sophie R, and Katie H, Room 2. Milly H, Martha B and Flora A, Room 3.'

Martha filed out with her new room mates. They reached Room 3, which wasn't that hard to get to, it was straight upstairs, three doors on the left. They went in. It was brilliant. Just how Karen had described. Martha smiled. This was the best day of her life. Martha sat on the middle bed. Milly sat on the left and Flora on the right. Martha smiled. She studied Milly and Flora carefully. Milly was a sweet, short little girl. You know what I mean. The ones who give you this dazzling smile with the little funky heart top on. But actually they are a demon in disguise, well, to the adults. To the kids they are a daring cheeky person. Flora was a laid back, floppy chocolate eater. You know what that means, too. It means she was the sort of person who laid back watching telly all day, wearing a floppy t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms or maybe not even getting out of their pyjamas.

'So' said Milly, 'I suppose we should get down to the dining hall to get into our, err, Mombles'.

So Martha, Flora, and Milly all went into the dining room, ready to be sorted.

'Now, everyone. I will call out everyones names, and which Momble you are in. The Mombles are 'Inky', 'Dorky', 'Porky', and 'Fink'. Jack B, 'Porky', Tom F, 'Dorky', Jim I, 'Porky', Molly E, 'Inky'.

Martha's legs were getting cold in the chilly hall. She cursed her uniform, a skirt in the middle of winter! Then, finally, Martha B, 'Inky'. That was the last one.

'Now, now. Each Momble has a different colour. Inky, red, Dorky, green, Porky, blue and Fink, yellow. You might have noticed that in your room that the lining of your fleeces and your zips on your fleeces were different colours. So was the stitching and around the edge of your collar on your t-shirt. They are your group colour. We are going to give you two things to complete your uniform. One, Your Momble's badge, and two, the school's ring. You must pin your badge where you can see it, and always wear the ring on your finger to prove you aren't an impostor, trying to find out what we do here. Martha collected her badge and examined it. It was shaped like a shield and was red. In black writing the letter 'I' was written on it. The ring was black and studded with rubies. She was now a Mortan, and proud to be one.
(November 2008)

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The Wind Makes Me Cry

By Ludmila, 14, NY, USA

I listened to the echoes that the train makes, I ignore it and stare beyond it, over past to the horizon. I see a few blinking lights in the distance, satellites I presumed. As I head outside, nowhere in particularly, I just head out there, where Spring is on every vine, and every tree. I cannot help but touch every old tree sustained with moss. If anybody passed me, they may have thought I was a deranged person that has never been outside clearly enough times.

Personally, I would have laughed out loud on that thought, and then people would have really counted me crazy.

My destination, the train station, once I slid the card through the slot, I recalled the familiar beep, and then proceeded. I climbed up the stairs, having my shoes echo across the empty morning sides, leaving me none but other my thoughts to concentrate on. I despise being alone with my thoughts, utterly hate it. Makes me shudder with despair, the one reason is, that, my thoughts have a tendency to overcome me.

I do not wish to go on a train, the one that goes up the tracks, I stare down into the train tracks, before the train goes and covers them. I am mesmerized by the puddles engraved between each empty parallel track. But then the train passes, I am standing there, like an idiot, still watching something that is not there. But then it leaves, and sudden silence resumes itself once more. I hear everything and see everything twice as I could before, it is the winds doing.

The gentle breeze pushes me, and I look below to the chain of stores, and I smell the steaming bacon of a restaurant cooking in the morning, which tingles my senses, I remember, I hate bacon. The wind now blows into my eyes, making me look dreadful and teary. I feel like a widow who just lost her husband. I blame the wind, for making my eyes bleed out tears.

I feel my feet being dragged towards the compactor door of the train station stands, yes I was being dragged. By the wind itself, into the door, like I was being told what to do, I felt myself being slammed into the copper and wooden door, on as if, I felt no pain, no breeze, no faint grilled bacon, and no trains. I looked around, I saw myself in darkness, and it felt like a blanket I could wrap around myself three times for warmth.

Then it suddenly became dim, and I could feel fur, yes fur, all around me. I could clutch it, and it stays on my fingers, it doesn't slip away like the grains of sand in the hourglass. It was more than that, it was home calling more clearly out towards me. I heard this humming, a clear lullaby, all around me, it was impossible to move, even to blink hurt. For my side, it aches with a frigid pain that soon led me towards nothingness as if in this pitch black was more as a night light gone bad. I was numb, my fingers are too numb. My eyes that I could see once more with, are also numb, the feeling of being deaf and blind are all around me.

Then, the light shone through the cracks from my eyelashes, I was there next to a woman, she was beautiful, she had a long dress, dark like the starry skies, and her skin was pale, but she had this vibe, that gave out a comforting glow. Her eyes are the deepest of the oceans blue, her hair, golden but white as a unicorn's mane. She spoke to me, her voice is as a nightingale would sing to her children, and she stroked my hair, as if I was a lost animal.

'My child, do not be afraid, for though I have given the gift of change. Your home, whenever you wish to go back and forth between your world and this, sustained, for though you are a free spirit and deserve the joys of both worlds, though your mother earth will always be there to help you, in both worlds,' she said, with a humming tune in her voice.

I blink in confusion as her glow envelopes me with her, and I had no clue, or this statement, thought what so ever about the lives I will lead, including my own, making sacrifices, even I will regret or look back on.

Then I recall being alone in a purge of darkness, then light shone upon me once more. I stare up towards it; I see that it is the moonlight given a ghostly gleam out towards the surroundings. I take a look at my location, I see a lake, in a form of the waxing crescent of the moon, and it has the mirror of the moon in the sky. A wonderful sight to behold, then there are a forest all around the lake and, weeping willows, tall oaks and pines surround the mountains in the horizon.

Then there comes out to be a pack of wolves, so broad and gentle looking, the fur, caught glimmers of the moonlight. There were two white wolves, three blacks, and one small brown. Then out of the forest's trees came out a huge white wolf, the size of an average horse, at least fifteen hands tall. The large wolf came up to me, I shrank away in horror.

'Do not fear me young one, for this is your world to have; you are in the land of the forgotten. Mother Earth has made you the chosen one, the gift of change; you can go back through worlds, yours and this one. Please, you will discover your powers soon enough without my help. Now that you are here, name yourself a new name, you cannot use your real name in this world.'

I look astonished, this great white wolf, later to be realized a female goddess. I look around me, and then I whisper, 'What is the name of this lake?'

The wolf goddess looks at me, and then says 'Lunar Lake, and the forest, Crystal Woods.'

'That will be my name, Lunar. I should not have to worry about the last name, for though it may change when I want it to change,' I said to her.

'Very well, my name, Morro, I am Mother Earth's sister. Leader of this wolf pack in this part of the lands, you must be careful, for though there are many creatures you must learn about. In Elf Town, there is a huge library, known for the elder's wisdom. Come, onto my back, and we shall glide there with great ease, and learn about the animals and creatures, and what you can change into,' Morro said.

I look doubtful, but then climb onto her back, and hold onto her fur, gleaming like a white pearl. Then the wind grew around us, and we seemingly arrived at the Elf Town. A quiet place, great deal of weeping willows surrounds this town. The homes were small cottages, neatly aligned, adding warm golden color towards it. Morro leads me towards one of the larger homes, and inside were books of gold on every shelf, and there was a table so long, you can operate a ten by ten human on it. I get inside, I take down a book, I open it, I awed at the great details in pictures and words.

I sat down to read, I have read by now, every book that library has to offer me. It was a year later, I knew how to change. The quite funny thing is, one year here in this world, one minute in the real world. I have not aged either, I cannot, this world, the way it works, reminds me of the way Neverland from Peter Pan is, you don't grow old. Only once in the real world, you become once more aging in your normal years.

The wind blows, moving my hair, and the petals of spring danced around my feet. I sing the song about love and pain rolled into each other.

'Let the pale moon rise, let my love shine. But then once more, I drown myself, into this deep lure. During my heart, frozen in time once more, the walls of time, collapse underneath my feet.'

I lean in to the Shore of Lunar Lake, walking with the water lapping to my knees. It was dark, around midnight, and the moon shone brightly above me. I smile, and then I dive into the warm waters of the lake. I arise with wings of a mermaid on my back and webbed fingers and toes, for though I have sought to change into a nixie over the time. So this was the gift of change.

I stared at the golden archway of the old sodden mansion. The red velvet curtains blocked out the rusted areas of the gold, I was at the heart of this house, and awhile the other single bodied beings around me had none. I stood in the middle of the ballroom; it was warmed colored, gold, brown, hazy yellows and deep reds. I was dressed in a normal t-shirt and jeans; I am thinking I am the only being in this room dressed normally. Unless the vampires dressed up in gowns and suits made me the outsider. They danced around me in circles, and keeping aware of my presence, a few handsome vampires asked me for a dance, but I refused. They were after one thing from me, my blood.

I stood here, in the middle of this ballroom, full of vampires that danced around me, only because he asked me to be here. So I am waiting for him to come. This person I am waiting for was not a human, but too a vampire. He took me by surprise when I met him; he was at The Willowing Meadows, and he was lying down in the grass staring upwards towards the stars. I was in Phoenix form flying overhead, I did not see him as I landed, and I landed on top of him. We both threw a fit of, 'I'm sorry, and it was your fault for being here.' Eventually we calmed down and threw a laughing fit. It ended as, 'You will come to the dance right? It is that house on the edge of Vampire Mountain; you won't be able to miss it.' Then he left as he finished speaking.

Now I am standing here, in the middle of the ballroom, full of vampires, waiting for a vampire myself. I felt a light tap upon my shoulder; I turn around, and see Jonathan smiling at me, he too was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. His obsidian hair was up to his shoulders and his morning dew eyes pierced me with admiration. His pale skin stood out from the warm colors around us, I could feel the other vampires stare at us, but I didn't care, he didn't seem to either.

'I feel like we are outsiders with clothes like these, you should have told me it was a dress up party,' I mumbled quietly, looking away at curious eyes.

He laughed softly, and then fumbled with my hair, I looked up to meet his gaze, and he is taller than me. I am 5'11 and he is at 6' feet at the very least.

'Don't worry about it, just one dance, and then we will leave,' he promised me. His voice was like a soothing bell in my ears, and his eyes locked onto mine, made me look down and blush. He took my hands and took us into the flow of a circular motion like the other vampires dancing, 'Your hands are cold,' he told me.

I laugh, and then reply, 'You really shouldn't be talking, and you're a walking ice-box,' I turned and then walked, and made a quick light step, for though the dance was speeding up.

'Okay, we're even.' Then he laughed too.

Sooner than five more minutes upon the ballroom floor, we broke down laughing. We stopped dancing, and then the entire, what it seems like, the whole motion of the dancing stopped. It looks like a traffic jam, and we were right in the middle of, actually causing it. Once we calmed down, we looked up, and saw a whole line of vampire dancers scowling at us. I don't blame them, for though they must be annoyed at us right now.

We apologized non stop until we reached outside of the ballroom. Then once we ran out, out of breath we looked at each other, then broke down laughing once more. We stopped out of breath, and walked, our arms linked, down the hallway of the old mansion.

Life is not that simple anymore, I need to find sanctuary in a world not mine. I grow wings, black as the night sky, the pain is unbearable.

'Scars are all what would remain,' is only what Mother Earth said.

I touched my neck were I was bitten. I could feel two faint deep wounds on it. There was also another scar, still more than ever fresh. It lay upon my heart, still beating barely from my return from death. My skin was even paler than before, and I was always cold as ice. Mother Earth was disappointed in me. I could feel it in the land itself. I could feel it tremble underneath me; I could feel the sky about to cry, and the gods to weep for the sadness of their sister. Earth's twin brother did not have me just yet. She made sure of that.

I, myself was in mourning, my only love Jonathan left the face of this world. He chose to go towards the human world. I can always go back to find him, but the world is bigger than it really seems. Even though I can not age properly now, I have all the time the world can offer me. As I took off, my dark wings flapped once, swept me off the ground. I was sharp out of breath as I pumped more energy into my wings. I flew higher and higher. Then I could feel myself let go, and then soar off downwards towards the edge of the forest. Once I landed on the ground, my feet gave me away and I collapsed upon the ground. I contracted my wings inward, in that which took out the last of my breath.

'She is neither nether dead nor dying. Death can not take her, for though something is holding her back,' said a soft voice, I could feel someone lean over me.

I can open my eyes, but just barely enough to see an old man walk out the door that is rusted in crimsoned fall colors. But soon afterwards the old man leaves, I regain most of my remaining life back. I lean over towards the side, and then I see a young man. I blink stupidly, hoping it was just a dream within a dream. I felt my hair being brushed away from my closed eyes. I softly stirred them open, and then I saw him. His hair was silver as the moonlight, and then his eyes, I could not keep mine away from his. The color was of a Caribbean on a sunny day.

My heart that was awaking from death and pain just stirred inside of it, bad way to regain life upon the living once more. I knew I was different but yet I tried to fit in once more. I knew what he was, just by the look of him. For any mortal, he would have been mistaken as an average teenager, but here, in The Land of The Forgotten he could easily be known.

'There you are, awake at last. Quite of a fall you had, good thing someone was nearby watching our borders, and saw you incoming,' said the stranger.

'Your name?' I asked softly.

'Vincent,' he replied gently.

I looked at him, I studied his features, and his pale skin was warm to the touch and his eyes showed kindness and wisdom. Like all werewolves I suspect.

Living has become easier for me, but still I am on the bridge of life and death. I am a walking, half dead person. My heart still beating faintly, and even though my scars run parallel and deep, I rather not walk among the living, due towards the pain I seem to always feel. Vincent, how can I explain him? Like all werewolves he is kind, approachable and cares a lot. That kind of kindness I have not felt for awhile. I feel disappointed on how much I missed out in the world. The wind nearly knocks me right over, and the moon is at its crescent, Vincent and I are racing in the prowl of shadows and darkness, him in human form, and I, in my wolf form.

He looked at me, and made a bet.

'I bet you can't out run me, even in human form. To make it easier for you, I let you have any of your forms to choose from.'

I looked at him, amused and I also laughed a bit. I knew I was going to lose, but for the fun of it, I will accept his challenge. So now the dark has fully submerged us, and standing out was his pale colored clothing, and my white pearl coat.

I saw Vincent look at me, then he told me, 'I can easily find you among a pack of white colored wolves.'

I looked at him in question. 'You have a black version of the moon on your right ear.'

I nodded, 'I know, Morro, the wolf goddess gave it to me,' I said softly.

All I saw was a quick nod, and then he raced off into the darkness. I grinned in my wolfish way, and then I laughed. I knew I was going to lose, but yet so suddenly I was catching up on him. He saw me, and sped up. I smiled, now this got to be quite interesting right now. I saw the end reaching closer and closer. The tall oak's branches reached out beneath the dark sky, as if to hold it up there in the sky. I raced past it.

'I won!' I yelled out, breathless from excitement.

But yet so soon I felt myself being tackled towards the ground. I heard Vincent say in an amused tone, 'I went easy on you, but next time, I will win.'

'Does not matter, I won this round,' I said.

He then started to lie upon the grass. The sky seemingly starts to reappear with stars in it. I soon think to myself, I think I am starting to like life again. I lay down next to him.

I can hear him softly say, 'Did I cure you yet?'

I just smile, and speak no words, I soon laugh out loud. 'Nearly, but more effort needs to be put in it,' I reply, shortly.

I can hear him muffling a laugh. Then he hugged me. I never had been hugged after my death; I guess this is now my first after the year of A.D.

'Better,' I said softly.

The stars start to twinkle more brightly, and the moon came from behind the clouds. I could feel the land underneath me; Mother Earth cares underneath the starry skies. The breeze picked up, and finally we stood up, and we walked back towards the werewolf hideaway smiling at each other in happiness that only death and the flowers can understand.

Days had soon passed by, yet but so quickly I had regained full health, still I was cold as death, and could not age. I had wonderful times hunting with werewolves on the full moon. Yet so suddenly, I felt a sharp sting in my heart, it disagreed with me. It knows we don't belong here. I need a new place, to belong. It seems so yet, that I do not belong in this world as suddenly as I imagined. I thought this place as my home, true. Sadly, I suppose I need to go back towards the human world. I was not ready to go back, but my heart aches, causing me pain and to do it's bidding. One day, on a cloudless day, the sun streaming through the cracks of the ruins, I decided to tell Vincent, I have to leave.

'I cannot stay, I do not belong. My heart aches for me to see the human world once more,' I told him, softly. He paused before he replied shortly.

'I heard of a world, different as ours, and we are of the memories they forget. We are brought here for another life. That I know is true. This one vampire chose to go to the human world, only because he wished to be known by his human family. But if you lived here long enough without turning back, slowly they start to forget you. That is the reason people from the outside world cannot say real name, for though they somehow disappear from the human world, and cannot return at all.'

I looked at him, surprised. I wanted him to know, I will never forget. I sat down next to him, his silver hair caught a ray of the sun and it glimmered like the ocean. I touched his hand, still warm.

'You're always cold,' he told me softly.

'But I will get better soon. This is not a disease I have, only of death did I come from,' I replied, shortly.

All I saw him do was nod. He placed his head on the grass and soon a breeze picked up and moved our hairs. I stared off into space, but then Vincent made a short movement, he took a necklace from his neck. I felt him reach over towards me, and then clip it onto mine. I glanced down at it, it was gorgeous. It had black ivory thread, it was gleaming with small werewolf claws, and between each of them was a small white pearl, about the size of your pinky fingernail. I looked at it for a long time, then at him. I was speechless.

'When you leave, this is something you can remember me by,' he told me.

I smiled at him, tears nearly stung in my eyes. I leaned in upon him, gently kissed him upon his forehead.

'I will never forget,' I told him, softly.

He nodded; I could see sadness deluged in his eyes. His silver hair picked up a breeze and swayed gently. I stood up, and bade him farewell, and then walked off towards Crystal Woods. Lunar Lake was a good ten miles away from my location in the woods. It was a good thing too, only because I wish not my wolf family to hear me leave, for though they will object to my doings, and would wish me to stay.

I came nearer and nearer towards the heart of Crystal Woods. I stood there in the center of the forest, and there was a clearing. Very large in particular, and there in the middle stood a large, grand and ancient weeping willow. I touched it's side, and started to wait. This was supposed to be the grandmother of time itself. But where is she? Then I looked down at it's base, and saw engraved marking upon the trunk.

I bent down, and saw these words: 'Only in death, only in life, only in two worlds, only in darkness. Bleed out important memories, and yet keep it in place. Touch a leaf by it's thorn, and you shall bleed. Show me what you did, and an old path shall open.'

I suppose my blood is needed. I looked around, and saw the weeping willow's vines; I carefully took one, and pressed it hard against my thumb. To my amazement, I started to bleed against the soft texture. I held out my bleeding finger towards the tree. Nothing happened. Then I walked up against the trunk, and pressed the finger onto it. The blood flowed quietly and gravity pushed it downwards towards the grass and flowers at the base. I took my finger away, and waited.

A soft light came from the weeping willow, I heard a quite voice, it sounded careful, and very old.

'Enter me, and you shall come back where you came from. Remember, to come back to this world, you will have to enter the way you came.'

I paused a brief moment, I hesitated for a bit. Then I walked into the light, returning back into the human world as someone else.

I saw a dim light, and when I opened my eyes, I saw the train tracks, but nobody around. The faint bacon smell reached my nose once more, and the buzzing of the people below me. I smiled. I looked around, no one in sight. I closed my eyes, and then I sprang up from the ground, but in a different form. There was an only black feather, and I could feel the soft wind brush my feathers, I flapped three times before gliding towards into the busy sidewalk. I can change! I am still Lunar in this world! Sometimes around midnight on a full moon, if you close enough at the moon, you might see a crow flying off into the other world.
(November 2008)

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Use Your Time Wisely

By Manvi, 8, Andhra Pradesh, India

There was once an old woman, whose name was Priscilla. She was a beautiful and wise woman. She had three sons, who never spent their time wisely.

'One second gone, it will never come back. One minute gone, it will never come back. Use your time wisely,' she would say. Her sons ignored this advice.

A fair came to the little town that this family lived in. The three sons were ready to compete in every game that there was. A new game stall had been put up. It had all types of challenges. One son was attracted by an arm wrestling contest. The second, by a thumb wrestling contest. The youngest, had no interest in any of the games. He walked back home to tell his mother what the others were doing.

'They are going to compete in wrestling games,' he told her.

Priscilla was worried. She knew that they would not practice at all. And if they lost, they would be really sad. The first one, whose name was Coco, came back with a smile on his face.

'I've joined a contest for thumb wrestling. I started the contest right away. I won of course, the prize was a sack a gold,' Coco said.

And within seconds, the next son, whose name was Dartin, came in.

'Coco won a bag of gold. I didn't start right away, though. I had to hurry back. It was getting dark,' Dartin said, pointing his head to the window.

Stars were already coming out. The next day, Priscilla asked Coco and Dartin to practice for the contest. But her youngest son, Somat, stopped her.

'They deserve a break,' Somat said.

'One hour gone, it's gone for good. A day gone, it will never come back. You must use your time to practice,' Priscilla said.

Coco and Dartin sighed, but when they looked up at their mother's eyes, they ran straight to work. They lifted rocks and exercised. After a week of practice, they were ready to go to the contest.

'You have used your time wisely and I am very proud of you,' Priscilla said to her sons, 'tomorrow I will take you to the fair.'

And that very next day, she took them to the contest. Somat saw a pen that attracted his eye. It was white with a golden ball on top. He wasn't interested in the pen, because he didn't know how to read or write. He was interested in the golden ball. He knew his mother wouldn't allow this pen to be his, so he thought of an excuse.

'Um, mother, I need to get a drink of water. I won't be long,' he said.

Priscilla nodded, and Somat ran over to buy the pen. It was a long line, so he had to wait. After he got the pen, he walked over to the tent. This time, he really needed water. He tried to find a place to get water, but he couldn't.

'Oh no! I've lost my way among the stalls, now what will I do?' he asked himself.

He sat down on the cool, wet grass. He heard a cheer. He followed it to the tent where Coco and Dartin were competing. He found his seat next to Priscilla. The game had ended. Coco had won, Dartin had lost. Coco won a bag of gold and a gold medal. At home, he shared it with the whole family.

'What part did you like Somat?' Coco asked.

Somat didn't know what to say. He had missed the whole show.

He remembered the pen he had bought, and said, 'I've missed the whole show. I'm very sorry. Instead of going to get water, I went and got a pen,' he said and took the pen out of his pocket. 'I've missed something that was important to you, and I'm very sorry. You can keep this,' he said, giving the pen to Coco.

Coco smiled, but shook his head, 'I can't keep this. You can give it to Dartin if you want,' he said.

Priscilla gasped. Where was Dartin? And then, from behind the door, Dartin jumped in.

'DARTIN! You scared me! I was correct when I named you Dartin, you really know how to dart in!' Priscilla cried. And from that day on, the three brothers listened to Priscilla's advice.
(November 2008)

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By Mustafa, 11, Auckland, New Zealand

There was a lizard. His unbreakable scales were solid as rock. He was scratching at his victims, when he hunted for prey all he cared about was the satisfaction of meat going down his throat and screams of his victims. He was lonely and was abandoned from his family five years ago. Because he had harmed his own relative for food. He did not mean to do it, it was anger. It wasn't his fault, but his family couldn't bear it. He had to do everything himself. Hunt for food, find areas to stay where enemies would not be and find places to sleep.

It was a sunny day in the Amazon Rainforest as always. With the luscious blue sky, the glistening white clouds and the smell of the green fernery. The plants and trees were growing brilliantly. The trees and ferns were as green as ever and here was the lizard sleeping at the very trunk of a tree in a camouflage area. It was a nice area to sleep but not for long. Although it was a nice rainforest, it was infested with carnivores and predators. But it was a sunny fertile area with lakes, leafy grounds, bright blue lakes and rivers. It was still a great place to be.

He was wondering about how his parents were doing, if they were EATEN, in danger or safe in their new home. It had been long since he had seen them which was why he was so worried. What if they were DEAD? If they were, then he would have to go find them. No, but he couldn't after what they had done to him, he couldn't help them. But he had to, NO! They were probably fine anyway. But then he realized that even though they hated him, he didn't hate them. So he decided to go after them. It was his only choice.

So after a few days he started his journey to find his family. He was ready. For some reason it all seemed so easy to him. Well it kind of did. Wait, this thought was distracting him he had to start focusing, because you never know something twice his size might jump out of the bush any second. He had to be careful. Well other than all that, it was a nice sunny day in the Amazon rainforest. Wet as always. With the screeching of apes and the calls of birds. All of a sudden he heard a roar. He could tell it was something big, at least forty times his size. It had to be a carnivore. What else could it be. Wait the ground was vibrating. He started sprinting for his life. What if he would be eaten. He had to escape.

The bushes started shaking crazily. Oh no the creature had caught up to him. It had a long tail. With golden fur and lots of hair surrounding it's face. It roared violently, so loud that you could hear the sound waves hitting you. It started running towards him. He continued his sprinting until he reached the trunk of a big tree. Sweat was running down his face. He started climbing up the tree until he was at a very high branch. He walked onto it. The lion was directly under him. It started scratching and banging into the tree. Making it shake. The poor lizard lost grip and was sliding off the branch. But he quickly dug his two claws into the branch holding for his life. Holding by two claws, was this the end of him?

He couldn't hold any longer. He fell towards the lion's mouth!! Instantly an eagle swooped under the branch and grabbed him, the lizard. He was saved, but where was he being taken by the eagle? Minutes later the eagle had arrived to it's destination. It had dropped him in a nest. There, lying on the nest were three lizards asleep in a nest. He tried to wake them up. Slowly their eyelids lifted. His family, they were kidnapped by the eagle.

He had found his family. They were alive and safe. They had managed to escape from the eagle's nest. They all got together, had a reunion and said never to make such a mistake again. So from then on they had a new life, a new beginning, with everyone safe together. It was nice to be back with his family happy and all. But would this happen again we do not know?
(October 2008)

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The Hotel

By Becky, 14, Buckingham, Bucks, UK

The hotel is sandwiched between two abandoned houses and like those houses it is in ruin. It sits on a street simply named 'Street'. It is called this because the sign is so scratched you cannot read the rest of the name. The street is squeezed in the midst of Manchester, no wider than an alleyway, and is potholed along it's length. Because of its narrowness, the street acts like a funnel for the wind, which whistles and winds its way down to the end. From whichever end you enter you get the same view: a row of faceless houses running along either side, and a dank road snaking it's way into the distance. For it's a very long street and you can't see the end from the beginning or, for that matter, the beginning from the end.

The hotel's facade leers its full three floors, one floor more than the neighbouring houses. It has six windows, two for each floor, each broken in it's own individual way. The front door is painted a shabby russet, camouflaging itself amongst the red Victorian bricks. There is a simple metal knocker set just off centre. There is no handle: the door simply swings open or shuts as the wind, or the occasional customer, wishes.

As you step into the dusky entrance you hear a distant Elvis record playing from somewhere above. The record is badly scratched. If you look hard enough through the gloom you will see a hatch cut into the wall. In it's heyday staff would have sat here and slapped on their fake smiles, welcoming guests into the hotel, yet today it is empty. On the right hand wall of this miniscule hall there are carpeted stairs reaching into the darkness of the landing above. If you step up these stairs and turn right you will find three doors.

You get to the top and the Elvis music stops right on cue. Thanks god for that.

They are all the same, each door: made out of cheap, tacky wood, with one golden knob which sits slightly off the middle.

The choice of which door to go through is simply down to chance. You can't distinguish anything from the wood in your way. You may as well pick at random. Say, for example, you go through the door on the right. You take a couple of steps forward, grip the handle and pull. You gasp and take a step back out for the change in atmosphere is vast. The first thing that you see almost makes you dizzy; it grabs you by the throat and spins you around a couple of times - the light. It's blinding. It's almost as if the furniture, the walls, the room are emitting their own glow.

Once the giddiness subsides and your eyes adjust you will notice the smell, a clinical, man-made smell. It creeps up your nose and sticks in your throat, making your eyes burn and a different kind of giddiness overthrows you.

The walls follow suit to the rest of the hotel: grey with little chunks of concrete missing. However, these have no dirt on them, not one mark, not one speck, nothing. The floor is wooden planks nailed in. Again these are old, scratched, stained, but no dirt.

To the right of the door is a bookshelf, obviously old; there are many cracks and scratches, yet it's pristinely clean. A see-through bottle of polish stands on top of an exactly square cloth, spread out to make you think it's been ironed profusely. There are no books on this bookshelf, in fact not even a spec of dust sits.

On the right wall is a cracked window, almost falling of it's hinges. A draft is banging the window open and closed now and then, threatening that it will break it even more. A bed sits under the window. The frame of the bed is just like the bookshelf, just like the walls, just like the floor: old, scratched, yet completely clean. It's, again, made of wood. A mattress, covered by a white sheet, sits on the bed, spotless, of course (judging by the rest of the room). A white, unspoiled, maybe untouched duvet, floats airily above.

There is one more piece of furniture, a chair, and their on the chair, a man.

The chair that mimics the cleanliness of the bookshelf. A limp figure perches on it, right on the edge, as if afraid to dirty it. He's hunched, elbows on knees, face in hands. He's wearing a suit, the type you wear to a wedding: black blazer, black tie and white shirt. Under a grey, bob-cut head of hair and bushy eyebrows sits a pair of fierce (ice cold, blue flame, blue heat) blue eyes which dart too and fro constantly. Something's coming to get them. He has a wrinkled, round face. Like a deflated balloon the skin sags off the bones, the whole face is melting. The nose is drooped, those piercing eyes are drooped and so, it seems, is his smile.

He sighs. His hands are by his sides, drumming, and his legs are crossed, with one foot on the floor, tapping. He's in a new, unfamiliar room and sat on the decaying chair that is in the centre. He's scared.

He's facing the cracked window and, in a way, a mirror. Just like the window he is cracked: not just in the physical form that comes with old age, but inside. He is cracked. He is broken, kaput, wrecked and he doesn't even realise. Sunlight is bursting through the glass pane and breaking through the room. Blinding light in the metaphorical and literal terms: Light that blinds the man's eyesight; blinds the man from the perfection he's craving and blinds the man from the imperfection he needs.

He chokes on the light. His vision blurs, yet the light is still clear. It is illuminating everything. He's under scrutiny: nothing escapes, everything has to be perfect. He craves darkness: he wants to hide himself and his flaws. He flicks his head to the right, dirt. He twists his neck to the left, marks. He stares at his own hands, scars. His weathered face winces as he sees a black dot on the polished wooden floor. He glances at it. It has grown. A disease. He looks away and stares at the dank wall, no, more marks; he spins his head back to face the stain on the floor. Its spread, it's contagious. His heart thumps. Contagious. It's coming for him. He needs an antidote, perfection. His heart beats. But it's still growing, he needs to be quick: every time he spies that stain it grows, though in his head, in his mind, not in real life.

He stands up and moves towards it, sweating and armed with the now beautifully folded cloth that was on the bookshelf, not understanding that nothing's perfect, he's the imperfection.

Room number two is identical to room number one except it fits snug in the jigsaw of the hotel: dirt is there. It is as smelly, unhygienic and repulsive as the rest of the building, though the choking smell is slightly masked by the waft of deodorant. Glancing around it quickly there is nothing out of the ordinary. If you look closer and narrow your eyes slightly, you still see nothing out of the ordinary. If you pace the room, look in every nook and cranny, turn the room inside out you will find nothing out of the ordinary. This is because there is nothing out of the ordinary.

The room is painted a green colour and, of course, the paint is peeling off the walls. There's a matching green carpet, which is littered by chewing gum and cigarette ends. A light bulb swings too and fro in the middle of the room, causing the room to have an empty feel, as if the light is searching for a sign of life. It is the same layout as room number one except the window and bed are opposite the door.

On the bed, spread out on his back is a man. A chameleon man, though wearing a bright green polo and jeans he fades into the duvet. It's almost as if he sinks into it. He's a tall man; his brown, leather shoes are hanging over the end of the bed and his arms are straight and panned out, 30cm away from his arms, like a starfish. Long legs - which look stapled together and are in a perfect 90 degree line parallel to the edge of the mattress - protrude from the short stump that is his torso. He's got brown, short, almost bald hair which looks like a stubble sticking out of a head that is smooth and babyish. He has no beard. However boring he is you can't escape one feature that seems to pop out at you: wild, hazel eyes that are framed and nearly tamed by a pair of glasses.

The brown suit which he is wearing says nothing for him: a boring, run of the mill, tie hangs limply down his shirt; a shabby blazer, instead of making his shoulders broader, seems to drag him down and a white shirt that you wouldn't look at twice. Yes, this shabby outfit says nothing for what's going on behind those calculating pupils. They don't explain that the reason for his boring appearance is not due to the lack of success or money but for the fact that this man doesn't care much for trivial things such as clothes or that the reason why he is in this dingy hotel is so that he can get a broader view on life, meet people he usually doesn't meet and have experiences he hasn't ever had. For this man isn't the ordinary, run of the mill bloke in any way, simply because his brain never stops whirring.

The shabby blue curtains are closed, though a thin strip of white light manages to burst through the centre of the two limp rags. The windows are shut; it is hot and muggy. The burst of sunlight catches a column of cigarette smoke. A butt smoulders, moodily, in a bin by the door.

The room is in panic: a limp, white duvet is in a bundle at the bottom of the bed; a broken, shadeless light bulb hangs from the ceiling; magazines are haphazardly strewn over the floor, their pages fanned out; a bin by the bed is upside down and scattering multi-coloured litter - old magazines, cigarettes and bottles of Tesco's Cola - across the room; weeks of green, matching underwear is falling off the bookshelf; and to complete the portrait of panic, a man has curled into a ball and is now rocking backwards and forwards on the bed.

Music is playing: 'Blue Suede Shoes'. The record is scratched.

The figure on the bed sighs hoarsely and uncoils, straightening out his legs and letting them hang over the side of the bed, but keeping his torso curled over and head hanging down. He looks like a question mark.

He's wearing a red glitter all-in-one suit. This suit hangs loosely over a thin body, with only the bones protruding. It is V-necked; a triangle of pale and hairless chest is visible. The man is breathing quickly, almost panting. His small head pokes out of the neck hole, rather like a tortoise. In fact, his neck is slightly too long, and it is wrinkled too; his eyes are wide and curious; and he has a slightly squashed face. He has a puzzled expression, as if he's discovering the world around him for the first time.

Blue eyes blink. Thin fingers tap. He licks his lips. He's nervous. His shallow eyes glance down to his red watch. Five minutes until the taxi comes. To the right of him, on the end of the bed, is what looks like a ball of black hair. This is a wig. This is what he's going to wear tonight.

He stands up on his feeble, shaking legs. He turns around to face the bed. He picks up the wig. He turns on Elvis. He turns the record onto full volume. He walks down the stairs. He can still hear the music. He opens the front door. He looks around the darkening street. He can still hear the music. The black wig blows off his head. He chases after it. He curses the narrowness of the funnel-like street. He glances at the block of apartments. It's sandwiched tightly between two other houses. Moments later the taxi pulls in. He gets in. He can't hear the music anymore. The taxi leaves. It winds it's way to the end of the street. He takes one last glance at the street sign: 'Street'. Then he moves on to a better life.
(October 2008)

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Magic Behind a Simple Dare

By Kaytie, 14, Puyallup, WA, USA

The door slammed behind me as I walked toward the broken, creaking staircase. I was starting to get scared and worried.

Why did I have to take up such a stupid dare? It's not like anyone else would do something so stupid. For example, going into a haunted house on Hallowe'en night, the scariest night of the year. No one would do that unless they were really brave or crazy.

I always took a dare. I wasn't scared of anything, except spiders, cockroaches, haunted stuff, well you get the point.

I was thinking about calling the guys to tell them I was locked in a haunted house, but decided not to. I didn't want to sound like a chicken in front of older teens.

When I looked around the house, I saw lots of holes in the floors, walls, and stairs. The place looked completely destroyed, but it probably used to be an old English house full of antiques.
After taking one more quick glance I turned back for the door. Even teenage boys who act macho get scared sometimes, you know? Okay, maybe you don't know, but still.

I ran down the porch steps, almost falling over the last creaking step. I must've looked like a complete idiot about to pee my pants, because I could hear most of the high schoolers laughing, probably at me.

When I finally slowed down, I stopped about 6 feet in front of the pack. My feet wanted to run away from them, but I wouldn't let them.

I looked around and saw everyone but a boy and a girl laughing at me. The boy, obviously the leader and the girl fished themselves out of the group of laughing teens to come over to me. I tried to look brave and normal and everything but the girl, Lainey had a worried look on her face. Apparently, she was worried about how scared I must've looked.

I guess I was almost as pale as a ghost because she asked me, 'Are you okay? You look really scared and pale. What do you think Williams?' She turned to the boy, William for his answer.

'Yeah, the kid looks as white as a sheet. You know you didn't have to take that dare if you didn't want to, right?'

The dare all started with his friend trying to have someone, more like make someone go into the haunted house on 8th street. He happened to see me walking down the street on my way to a friend's house to scare some trick or treaters.

I took the dare to look brave and cool in front of seniors, but that didn't happen now, did it?

'I'm always up for a challenge,' I tried to say, confidently even though I was scared out of my pants from being in that haunted place.

'Well, here take this for your bravery I guess.'

Cole (Williams was his last name or something) handed me a ring with a black double knotted string running through it.

'What's this? A necklace?' I asked, curiously.

'Well, yeah. But it can come in handy at times, if you know what I mean?'

Cole gave a sly like wink, one that Lainey couldn't see and started walking away with Lainey trailing behind him. She gave me a wave, and his pack walked away at his heels. I looked at the necklace and had no idea what Cole meant by, 'It can come in handy at times, if you know what I mean?'

I shrugged the thought to the back of my mind and tied the necklace around my neck. I felt kind of girly wearing a necklace, but if a popular high school jock wore it. Then I was wearing it too.
As I grew up, I ended up wearing that necklace for the next 20- 30 years of my life, remembering that very Hallowe'en night as clear as clear can be.

I don't know why, probably because I thought it was a pretty cool necklace or something. But I always thought the necklace was magical, something lucky maybe that helped Cole get through high school and helped him become a popular jock.

I was wrong.

Even though I became a popular football jock myself, I realized that if you're just yourself and you do your best, you can accomplish great things. I lived a great high school life and loved every second of it, not because I was popular, but because I could be happy with who I was out in public.
When I finally took the necklace off after realizing I never needed it, I found out that going through junior high there was something in the necklace helping me, something that I didn't know about until after I graduated college.

It turned out to be a magical 4 leaf clover hidden inside the ring. How cool was that? And the best part? The person who made it was an old city legend centuries ago about a wizard named Cole Williams, the person who supposedly gave me the ring.
(October 2008)

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The Two Girls and the Plant Diving Board

By Sabrina, 8, MO, USA

One bright morning in a peaceful log cabin out in the wild by the lively woods lived two girls, one named Aranea and one named Amy. They lived together with Crystal their snow white horse and their mother.

'Wake up Amy, breakfast is almost finished!'

Aranea almost yelled while shaking her sister awake. Aranea was excited to go pick berries at the foot of the Purple Diamond Mountains.

'Ok, I'll be there in a minute,' groaned tired Amy.

Soon the sisters were on Crystal and almost to the Purple Diamond Mountains when Aranea screamed, 'Oh no, wake up you sleepy head!'

Amy had fallen asleep. When they got to the Purple Diamond Mountains, Amy was awake and they were picking wild cherries and wild blueberries when Arenea suddenly heard two scared shrieks. She came just in time to see the frightened flower hang its head.

Arenea patted the pretty flowers leaves and soothingly said, 'It's ok, I'll dig you up and keep you as long as you live.'

The flower cheered up.

'That's fine. Dig me up, put me in a basket and take me home. Also, my name is Shimmer A. Cavatica, just call me Shimmer. Oh and, you don't have to be that astonished to see me talk,' Shimmer said, in an extremely fast and excited voice.

Arenea turned around and whispered to Amy, 'You frightened her. I'm a little angry about that.'

Amy whispered back a little louder, 'Sorry, but I didn't know what she was because I turned around to see if there was another blueberry or cherry bush and . . . you know. . .'

So then they did what Shimmer said and rode home with Shimmer asking questions to Amy about their territory all the way. When they got home, Amy first showed Shimmer around their beautiful log cabin then planted her by it while Arenea told Mother about Shimmer. The next morning they found that Shimmer was as tall as their tallest tree. But, every day she always shrunk a tiny bit.

One day Arenea said, 'We can't just have Shimmer as a plant. We need to use her as something. Hmmmm, how about a diving board?'

Amy stood up abruptly, 'That would be perfect because we don't have one!'

Then they both jumped up and hollered, 'LET'S TRY IT!'

They raced outside, climbed up Shimmer and . . . SPLOSH! SPLASH!! They dove into the water together. When mother saw the fun, she dove in too! After a while, Crystal saw it and thought she needed to join. She galloped over and . . . . . KERFLOP!!!!!!!!!!!! She landed on her belly and made an enormous splash that made everyone giggle and look under water to see a giant mass of bubbles around her. When she came back up she stood on the shallow parts of their large, glacier water lake eating the alfalfa that grew near the shore. Shimmer asked if she could dry them off on her leaves and she did so by facing them toward the warm summer breeze. They used Shimmer as a diving board for the rest of their lives (even when they got a big one).
(September 2008)

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By Fatema, 10, Mombasa, Kenya

It was a warm Sunday afternoon and Susane and I were at the beach.

'We argued a lot with mum and dad and finally got to come to the beach alone,' said Susane.

'Thank god there are no grown ups to tell us what to do,' I said.

'This is gonna rock,' said Susane.

We lay down on the soft golden sand and gazed at the sky.

'I'm going to get a snack,' I said.

I scrambled up and ran to the room. I snatched my rucksack. I put in all the food I could find. It took me a while to get back to the beach.

When I reached the beach Susane wasn't there and neither were the people next to us. The beach was deserted.

'Creepy,' I mumbled to myself.

As I was standing there with nothing to do, a paper flew by. I read it and tears poured out of my eyes. It said,

'Dear Stacy

I have been kidnapped by the people next to us. They are kidnappers. Don't worry about me. Your loving sister Susane.'

Just when I finished reading someone threw a sack over my head. They put me in a car and took me to a cottage. They threw me in, removed the sack and locked the door. I kicked the door with all my might but it wouldn't budge. I collapsed on to the floor. Suddenly I heard a muffled voice call out, 'Who's there'.

I wondered where the voice came from.

'It's Stacey,' I said.

'Sis is it really you?' cried the voice.

'Susane where are you?' I screamed.

'At the bottom of the hole which is near the big brown box,' she replied.

I walked over to the box and saw a deep hole. Shutting my eyes I leaped forward and dropped down. There was a gush of wind as I landed on the floor. I was going to land on my stomach but using one of my acrobatic tricks I landed on my feet.

Susane and I hugged each other.

We had a long chat and then Susane said, 'Let's get out of here'.

I asked her if she could climb the wall. She said she could. I went up first. When I reached up, the door opened and the kidnappers came in. They put down some half cooked meat and a slice of stale bread.

'Your lunch,' they said and were off and away.

When they were gone Susane scrambled out of the hole. She spotted the food.

'Don't eat it,' she said in a sharp tone.

'Why?' I asked.

'It might be poisoned or doped,' replied Susane.

I pushed the food aside and lay down on the floor. Soon I was dreaming about us drilling holes, digging tunnels and escaping. I woke up with a jerk. I found myself on the other end of the room. I stood up and watched the door turn. In came the kidnappers. They carried Susane who was still in her dreams, and threw her out. Then they pushed me out of the door.

When I was outside standing in front of me were my parents. They looked ANGRY! We drove home and then we were in a fix.

'We had to pay $20000 to get you two back,' yelled mum.

'You are never going to the beach alone. NEVER,' yelled dad.

'Go to your room and think of what you did,' said mum in a softer tone.

We fled to our rooms. Flopping down on the bed Susane said, 'I'm hungry'.

We thought about asking mum for food. On second thoughts mum was still mad at us so we had to starve.

'It's not fair. It's not our fault and we get punished for it,' I grumbled.

When it was tea time all we got was two biscuits each and a cup of black tea. We ate all the food we got. Suddenly I remembered something. I pulled out a suitcase from under my bed. I opened it and there was some food! It was some junk I had gathered on Easter day. I handed some to Susane and ate the rest.

When it was dinner Susane fainted. She didn't have enough water in her body. Dad came in to give us dinner. He saw the state we were in and said we could come out for dinner. We had a good meal and plenty of fluids. Then we crept off to our room and made two sorry cards. Our parents decided to forgive us and so we were good children and never went to the beach alone.
(September 2008)

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The Colourless Butterfly

By Fatema, 10, Mombasa, Kenya

Fluttering around the flowers was Punky mum and Blurry dad with their four butterfly kids. Their names were Bash and Dash the twins, Elizabeth the eldest and prettiest and Flowy the ugliest. Flowy wasn't really ugly but she looked ugly because she was a butterfly born grey. She watched sadly as her sisters did a colour fashion show. Tears poured out of Flowy's eyes.

Later that day she went to visit Grandpa Tree the oldest and wisest tree in the woods. Grandpa Tree loved it when the butterfly family was around, and so he was as pleased as punch. He gave Flowy a glass made out of tree bark and served her with some nectar. While sipping her nectar Flowy told Grandpa Tree all her problems.

After a few moments of silence grandpa tree said, 'To get your colour back you will have to look through the woods and find a flower with rainbow coloured petals'.

'Where should I look?' cried Flowy.

'I can not tell you' said Grandpa Tree, 'It will be between uncle tree and me that's all I can tell you,' said Grandpa Tree.

Flowy waved goodbye and set off in search for the flower. Soon it was dark. She searched through the chilly night hoping her wings wouldn't freeze.

'Nothing will stop me from getting my colour,' said Flowy.

As dawn was breaking she saw something glisten. She flew over to the direction the glistening was coming from. When Flowy reached there she screamed with delight. There was the rainbow petal flower! She touched the flower with her delicate wings. A shudder ran through her body. The next minute Flowy was a pretty butterfly with rainbow colours and patterns on her wings. She flew home delighted with her beauty.

The next day her sisters exclaimed, 'Look at Flowy. She is prettier than Elizabeth.'

Flowy told them her adventures and they listened with awe. When Elizabeth came up to her throne she found Flowy sitting there. Flowy smiled at Elizabeth, 'You may be the oldest but it's not a must for you to be the prettiest.'

And with those words Flowy was made Princess of Beauty!
(September 2008)

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The Stolen Pearls

By Fatema, 10, Mombasa, Kenya

A beam of light entered through my bedroom window and fell on my face. Bbbbbrrring, my alarm shrilled.

'Janet it's eight and you have to meet Ashley (Ash) at ten'.

'Okay mum,' I mumbled.

My sister Ashley had gone on a bike tour to the countryside. Today she was back and she wanted me to meet her at the station. I got dressed and went down.

'I have some good news for you honey', said mum, 'cousin Joe is coming to stay for two weeks.'

'Yes,' I cried, shooting up my fist in the air. Cousin Joe was fourteen. Ashley and I were eleven. We enjoyed his visits because he was as keen on adventures as Ash and I. '

When is he coming?' I asked.

'Tomorrow, you and Ashley can go meet him at the train station.'

I went to the station at ten. The train pulled in with a screech. Out jumped Ashley.

'Janet I missed you,' she cried.

'I missed you too.'

We walked home. On the way I told Ashley, 'Guess what? Cousin Joe is coming to stay for two weeks.'

'Yee ha,' she cried.

We walked in to the house.

'Mom I'm home,' yelled Ashley.

'Hi honey, how was your trip?'

'Totally awesome,' replied Ash.

I took her upstairs to our room. 'Surprise,' I cried.

Mom had bought us a new work table.

'It's beautiful,' cried Ashley.

She examined the table carefully.

'This side drawer doesn't open,' she remarked.

She examined the top part and pressed on a dent. There was a sound and low and behold the side drawer slid open. I gasped. In the drawer there was a box with a key. I took out the box and unlocked it. I stared into the box speechlessly. There was the most beautiful necklace ever made out of real pearls. We shut the secret drawer and left the box on the dressing table.

The next day we went to meet Cousin Joe. When we reached home the first thing we told him about was the pearls.

'Well pearls are really precious and I shouldn't like to leave them unguarded,' said Joe

He examined the necklace carefully and then he gaped.

'What'? I asked.

'Janet don't you realize that this is a stolen necklace?' he said.

'What are you talking about?' cried Ash.

'I read in the daily newspaper that a necklace of genuine pearls was stolen from the jewels museum and this is the one,' said Joe.

'How do you know it's the one?' I demanded.

'Look it's got a tiny label on the clasp,' said Joe, 'this proves it is the stolen necklace.'

'Come down for lunch,' called mum.

I put the necklace back in the secret drawer.

During lunch Joe asked, 'Aunt Lisa, where did you buy that wooden desk from?'.

'I bought it in a furniture sale but I had to pay a higher price for it because another man offered a higher price than the table really was worth. But my offer was better so I got it,' replied mum.

'This man must be very desperate to buy the table,' said dad.

'Yes he must be it's such a good stout table,' said Ashley.

What she really meant was that someone had hidden the pearls in that desk and he was desperate to have the table so no one could know the secret of the stolen pearls.

After lunch they went back to the room. No one noticed that the window was open. No one noticed that someone had been in the room until Ash said, 'I'd like to take another look at that necklace.'

We opened the secret drawer, removed the small jewelry box, unlocked it, and low and behold the pearls were gone. I gasped.

'Oh great,' gaped Ashley.

'I told you we shouldn't leave it unguarded,' shouted Joe.

'How did the thief get in?' I asked.

'As simple as ABC,' said Joe.

'The window,' I suggested.

'Exactly.' cried Joe 'Don't you girls have brains? You should have at least shut the window,' he scolded.

'Just because you're older doesn't mean you know everything,' blurted out Ashley.

She stormed out of the room. I followed her. That day we never even talked to Cousin Joe. He thought that because he was older he had the right to shout at us if we made a mistake. Ashley and I searched for the pearls not believing that they were stolen. But we really knew our search would lead nowhere.

The next day we went down to the breakfast table feeling down in the dumps about the pearls.

'What's wrong?' asked mum, noticing our gloom.

'Nothing,' I shrugged.

'I guess it wouldn't hurt to tell us the tables secret,' said dad, looking up from the newspaper.

'How do you know the table has a secret?' Ash demanded.

'I bet Joe must have told you,' I screamed.

At that moment Joe came down. Ash and I looked embarrassed and we stopped shouting. After Joe settled down Ashley had the nerve to ask,'Were you the one who told mum and dad the table has a secret?'

'I guess I did,' he said biting in to a doughnut.

Ashley and I stood up and walked of in a huff.

'Those twins do have odd feelings,' I heard Joe say.

My anger rose and I fled to my room.

'Let's try doing some detective work to find out who the thief is,' I suggested to Ash in the room.

'Ok,' shrugged Ashley.

I found the detective book. Let's take fingerprints on the table. We did the old fashioned way of finger printing using powder, tape and black paper. We were lucky enough to find fingerprints. We printed them on the black paper.

'Now we have to figure out whom these prints belong to,' said Ashley.

'How?' I frowned.

'We could take them to the police station for investigation,' Ashley said at last.

We went to the local police station on our bikes. We asked to see the sergeant.

'The sergeant sure is busy but you can wait. Take a seat young ladies.'
We were waiting for the Sergeant when the officer came back.

'You ladies can go in now.'

'Thanks,' I replied.

He nodded. The sergeant was a tall, strong man with blonde hair.

'What brings you here kids?' he said.

'Sir Eric we have something to tell you,' said Ashley, 'before you tell your tale what will you have tea, coffee or hot chocolate.'

The man brought steaming mugs of hot chocolate. We told Sir Eric our tale and he listened intently.

'Well, I have a set of fingerprints a bit like these,' said Sir Eric sipping his chocolate.

He brought out a set of fingerprints. We looked through each of them carefully with a magnifying glass. While examining the last set Sir Eric cried

'Why I believe this is a match.'

We compared our set and his.

'Yes it is,' I replied.

'These fingerprints belong to Max Wilson who's been accused of a lot of shabby deals,' said Eric.

'We'll get him locked up soon and we'll give you word about it,' he promised.

We thanked him and rode home.

At home we told mum, dad and Joe about our adventure. Joe felt jealous and left out since he wasn't in the last part of the adventure. We had a call from Sir Eric saying that Max was safely in prison and that the pearls were back in the museum. He thanked us for our help and told us that Max was a very slimy fellow.

That afternoon Joe apologized to us and we all screamed, 'Friends again.'
(September 2008)

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Martin & Marlin Save the Day

By Fatema, 10, Mombasa, Kenya

'Hurry up girls,' called mum.

It was Friday morning and Carla and Marla were on holiday. Today they were going to take part in the world ballet contest which took place every year in Lolan Park.

'We're going to be on TV,' cried Marla. 'Oh Martin wish me good luck'.

Marlin and I were as excited as Carla and Marla. Martin and Marlin sitting with the other cats, waiting for the girls to perform

We sat in the back seat and began to chat. When we reached the park Carla began to feel nervous. The stage was beautiful. It had balloons and ribbons tied all over. Carla and Marla went to sit with the rest of the participants. Mother was fishing through her purse.

'Martin can you go ask Carla if she has the C.D that has their music?' she asked.

I told Marlin and we went to ask her.

When we went back to mother I said, 'Carla said she doesn't have the CD.'

'She left it on the table,' added Marlin.

'Oh dear they are after the jokers which are next,' groaned mum.

Marlin and I had hit on just the right idea. We could go home and fetch it. I told mum and she agreed. We shot off like rockets.

The journey home was long as Bronan Road and was very far from Lolan Park.

'I'm tired of running,' panted Marlin.

'Just keep going,' I said.

At last we came to Fonan Flats.

'Almost there,' cried Marlin.

We skidded to the front porch.

'Open the window,' I panted.

We managed to wrench open the window after a lot of shoving and pushing. We went in. I walked over to the table and found the CD 'Best Ballerinas'. I put it in my mouth and we were soon racing back. When we reached the park we heard the announcer say, 'Now we have the Best.'

Marlin managed to cross the road before me. I flung the CD and he caught it. He saw the girls going on stage and ran as fast as he could. I was right behind him. We gave the girls the CD and told them we would explain things later.

The girls went to dance. We lay down where we were and took a rest. '

I'm exhausted with all that running.' complained Marlin.

'But it did the girls a lot of good,' I told him.

The girls danced so beautifully that everyone was speechless. After all the events were over the prizes were given. Guess what? They won first prize!

When we went home Carla and Marla wanted to know what happened. We told them the whole story and they were amazed and very proud of us. After the story we opened the present. There were squeals of delight. It was a new music player with a dance with me and Ballerina best CD of songs. We showed everyone and they wished they had a music player like that. Well I think it's time we let them listen to the wonderful songs in the music player and to rejoice about all that happened that day!
(September 2008)

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Life or Death

By Anson, 7 Years, Hong Kong

Adolf Hitler stared at his beer. 'Well, get the Junkers ready, we will soon destroy London!!'

Helmunt woke up in his bed.

His gunner said to him, 'Helmunt! We must go to our Junker! We will bomb London!'

Helmunt said, 'Yes,' and sprinted to his Junker.

He pushed his throttle to top speed after two seconds. He was airborne. He told the pilots they had to climb 2,000 feet high so bombs could go fast to London.

Meanwhile, in the radar station, Juliu Aus saw the Junkers coming on her screen. She quickly told the fighter plane pilots. Before she could contact anyone, she looked out of the window and there they were Junkers.

One of Aus's mates Lucy Pol said, 'Argh! We could die!'

A bomb fell on top of Pol and blasted her head to bits. Aus grabbed a Lewis gun and stuck her hand out of the window, and then she fired. Bull's Eye! She hit a Junker and it burst into flames. Aus knew no more bullets were in the gun. And just in time, Spitfires and Hurricanes burst into battle. Many Junkers burst into flames.

Gunners fired their guns like mad, only to end up being shot. A Spitfire fired again and hit the oil tank of a Junker. The Junker burst leaving nothing behind. Helmunt's Junker was shot below. He was lucky - most planes burst into flames after they had been shot.

As another Junker let out a bomb, a Spitfire shot it straight in his tank. Helmunt let out a bomb and flew out of the way. A Junker beside him was shot into flames by a Hurricane. As Helmunt flew higher, he noticed it was harder to breathe. Helmunt saw Junkers exploding. Helmunt banked right and flew west. On the way he saw Junker after Junker bursting into flames. A Junker on his right tried to save him from a Spitfire by firing the gun like mad, but missed it by inches. The Spitfire turned and shot the Junker into flames. Only Helmunt made himself out alive.

Meanwhile, Hitler decided sending a bunch of Messerschmitts to scoff up the RAF (Royal Air Force). But as the planes flew across the English Channel, British radar spotted them, and pilots took off, flying west. The planes met and RAF pilots jammed their gun buttons, and Messerschmitts broke.

Captain of the RAF, Ken Ben, was a Spitfire pilot. He spotted a Messerschmitt that was heading to Britain. He turned the plane round and pressed the gun button. The plane shook as the eight Browning machine guns fired. The bullets ripped through the Messerschmitt. The Messerschmitt then burst into flames. Ben flew around, jamming the gun button every second. He ducked a blast and fired again.

Meanwhile, Kally Bart, a pilot of a Hurricane, had been shot below. Bart turned and headed for Britain but there are lots of Messerschmitts in his way, and luckily, he still got much ammunition. He pressed the gun button and the bullets flew out and ripped through the pilot of the Messerschmitt. He flew west to Britain.

After Ben had heard that, he said, 'Clear the Messerschmitts, we will go back to Britain.'

When they arrived, Bart's plane was rubble. Oil leaked, Bart had crashed when he landed. His Browning guns were all rubble. Bart was unhurt.

As revenge, Britain sent 2,000 Avro Lancasters with 100 aircrafts to protect them when they're bombing Berlin. That night when they were over Berlin, a rear gunner named Jack Shock spotted a Messerschmitt. He lowered one of his machine guns and shot it into flames, then, the bombers dropped a 200 kg load into Berlin, and 'BOOM!!'

The bomb took thousands of lives. Anti-aircraft fire soon filled Berlin, only 5 aircrafts were shot down. The gunners pointed their guns at the anti-aircraft fire, ripping the cannons to rubble. Messerschmitts were shot by gunners and aircrafts. With airports down, Britain could send its navy to destroy Germany and the troops had set a camp near Berlin.

Hitler had now sent 2,000 Junkers and Messerschmitts to scoff the RAF, but British radar spotted them.

Ken woke up and one of his mates said, 'Ken! We should destroy the Germans!'

Ken changed into his uniform and sprinted to his Spitfire. He rammed the throttle open and charged over the runway and was airborne, turning west. He climbed 2,000 feet, then, the planes met. Ken jammed the gun button and a shower of bullets flew from the guns. They ripped through a man's body and blood spurted from the Messerschmitt cockpit. Ken jammed the gun button and the plane shook as the Browning machine-guns opened fire. A Junker burst into flames by the shot as Ken aimed for a Junker. But at his back, a pilot named George Stillward, his Hurricane was shot below and his guns were broken. He ducked a blast and he was over a British runway. He descended and his nose crashed, his throttle was no use, his nose had ripped from the plane, the plane spun and Stillward was thrown out by centrifugal force. He ripped the cord and the parachute opened. He crashed to the ground and there was a large bleeding bruise on his leg. Luckily, ground crew dragged him to the hospital.

Ken heard that Stillward was injured. His pilots were coming back from fight. Ken had already shot down 18 aircrafts. Ken landed and lit his cigarette.

While his aircraft was loaded, he said, 'Unlucky landing!'

Ken was having a bath when his mate said, 'Ken! We're on readiness again!'

Ken sprinted to his Spitfire, he took off and there they were, Dorniers. Ken banked left and jammed the gun button. The plane shuddered as Browning guns opened fire. A plane burst into flames, but a pilot Stillward Stack, was unlucky. His Hurricane was hit below. He turned for Britain and rammed the throttle and the plane dived. Stillward smashed the cockpit open and got shot in the arm.

He yelled, 'Ah!'

He ripped the parachute open and it was too late, his parachute broke and he fell in a dustbin. He was soon dead.

Ken hadn't had time. When he was about to get a hot bath, he had to take off again. This time, it was Junkers and BF110C Messerschmitts. The whole squadron broke up and fired in a minute. Twenty five Messerschmitts were gone. This was because BF110Cs had two engines, easy meat for British planes especially the Spitfire.

Ken broke out and shot a Junker into flames. He banked right and Helmunt was there. Ken descended and fired. Helmunt's plane caught fire. Helmunt held his breath and made it back to Germany. His wheels hadn't come down, then the Junker exploded in midair and the burning aircraft crashed into the ground. The bombs inside were exploding. Luckily he was not hurt.

After that, Hitler said to Helmunt, 'You are very trusty, you can now fly a Focke-Wulf FW 190, yes?'

Helmunt happily said, 'Yes.'

Hitler then said, 'Then, you help protect the Junkers as they bomb London.'

When the raid came, Helmunt ran to his new Focke-Wulf. The plane flew up. Helmunt saw lots of Junkers, and they flew all the way to London.

Meanwhile in Britain, pilots flew their planes to battle, then the planes met. Helmunt jammed the gun button and the burst hit a Hurricane. The pilot Charlie Colin saw hydraulic oil leaking out. He saw an airfield. He brought the plane down and his starboard wing hit the ground and the nose caught fire. Colin shut the throttle and a ground crew dragged him away.

Up there, Helmunt saw a Junker being shot. The cockpit was sprayed with blood. He watched as it dived and hit a flat and then set ablaze. He saw a dead man and a flicker of white. It was a pilot bailing out, and then a Hurricane chased and shot the pilot with blood spraying. Helmunt fired and the Hurricane dived and hit the ground and caught fire.

Helmunt noticed there weren't many fighters left, and Junkers were in danger and he saw one more Messerschmitt explode. He was the only fighter left and he saw one Junker left too. He saw enemy planes chasing it. He sped after them. He jammed the gun button and flew over Buckingham Palace. The Junker let out the bombs but missed and set some flats on fire instead.

The Junker pilot was embarrassed because Hitler had said, 'Any of you must destroy Buckingham Palace.'

So he dropped his Junker into a 100-degree dive then Boom!!! Buckingham was burning. Helmunt saw lots of fighters heading for him and he sped back to France.

Hitler asked, 'Was Buckingham destroyed?'

Helmunt said, 'Yes.'

Hitler said, 'Yay!!! Bomb!!!'

Junkers took off but with no fighter. But in Britain, 2,000 Spitfires and 1,000 Hurricanes took off, under orders to kill as many as possible. Then the planes met.

Ken had his Spitfire at an angle, and he attacked. The blast hit a pilot and blooded. In that Junker, the other pilot looked at the wound and steered the plane back to Germany. He, the gunner and the wounded pilot bailed out. The pilot helped open the parachute and landed on top of Hitler's office in Berlin. He watched as the Junker flew lower and Boom!! The Junker hit a building and the top of the building fell. The pilot's parachute was snagged on the top. The parachute broke and he fell so his hand caught on the windowsill and cut a big chunk of meat from his arm. He fell and his leg was then snagged on the window. He saw a bomb fall from the Junker and it was the last thing he saw before the sill broke and he fainted.

The gunner saw it too and then saw the wounded pilot fall on the Junker. He fell near the Junker too, then the Junker exploded and the gunner was knocked off the flat and died. The other pilot was in hospital. He suffered heavy injuries that nearly killed him. So the pilot was bandaged like a mummy.

Twenty five nurses had to operate on him and the doctor said, 'You need to have a morphine jab, so you won't feel pain.'

Back in Britain, 2,000 bombers were shot down, only 1 bomber managed to drop a bomb in a pool and killed five people and that bomber was shot down and exploded. Twenty five bombers crashed and killed 500 people. Twenty British fighters were shot down and one was captured. Five fighters managed to duck into the middle of the group and Ken was one of them. His plane was damaged and he bailed out and landed in a pool. Another pilot, James Slicepaw was not lucky.

Ken saw it all and said, 'James' plane was hit by 20 bursts of fire when it broke and James fell, his parachute opened and he was near the dock. He fell in a smoke stack of a ship and his parachute slipped inside. He must have died.'

When Ken checked his mailbox at RAF base, he found a letter from his son.

It said, 'Dad! Are you okay? Have you been shot down? How many aircrafts have you shot down? From your son.'

Ken wrote back, 'Yes, I had been shot down and I bailed out. I shot 90 aircrafts down. I hope the blitz hasn't destroyed London and has the blitz killed mum or brother Cluddus yet?'

When Ken finished, he grabbed a cigarette and lit it up and said, 'Hm! The blitz should have killed my wife Katty Kissy as she should have been in the kitchen when a Junker dropped a bomb on it. I saw it in an air battle.'

There was a sound of bombing. Ken looked up and five Stukas were dropping bombs. Stukas were dive bombers and dangerous to tackle so no pilot volunteered to shoot them except Ken. He raced to his Spitfire and took off.

He sent several bursts of fire at the Stukas and destroyed them all. He then landed. He was helped out of the plane as he was tired and once he'd got to the hut, he saw a letter lying at the foot of his bed that said, 'Dad, the blitz hadn't killed Cluddus or mum but our house was all rubble. All of your wine had spilled all over the garden. The kitchen exploded. The fuel pipes were broken leaving fuel all over the place. The doors were blasted off their hinges. The fireplace was covered with bricks. The chimney collapsed as a bomb fell in it. The TV was burnt out and the wardrobe was broken. All we got left is a pan, some olive oil, a can of milk, some cheese, a sea bream, some eels, a knife, a spatula and a gas cooker. Now mum is cooking all that food and filling cups of milk for us.'

After reading it, Ken felt relief and fell in his bed.

After destroying the five Stukas, the British fighters were fitted with 20mm cannons that fired high explosive shells and were very effective.

Ken was awoke by a shake. A fellow pilot said, 'Ken! Our fighters are equipped with high explosive shells and we are going to destroy a radar station, now!!'

Ken dashed out of his bed to his Spitfire and took off. After an hour, the radar station came into sight. Ken looked down and saw that it was filled with pillboxes and guns.

Ken thought, 'Will the shells burst through them?'

And he ordered to dive. Ken dived hard and fired at a pillbox. The shells burst through it and exploded. Ken recovered from the dive and fired again. The shells caught on a man's back and he was blown to pieces.

Ken fired at the radar station. He glanced inside and there was a gas cooker. Ken fired again and again. Then, something good happened. A shell burst right into the gas cooker and the whole radar station was up in flames in one explosion. Ken glanced at his fuel gauge and there weren't much fuel left. He ordered all planes to head back to Britain.

When they landed it was night. Ken ate his dinner quickly and wrote his report and then slept. When he woke up it was still night.

He heard, 'AHHH! EEEK! AH!'

He glanced out of the window, 'Stukas in sight!!!'

He raced to his plane and took off. He fired at the Stukas and they exploded. He landed and slept again.

Back in Berlin, Hitler ordered, 'Bomb London!!' And Junkers 88s took off.

A pilot named G'ring H'ing looked at the city. He carefully dodged Buckingham and pressed a button, 5,000 bombs fell from the planes. The bombs fell into chimneys. London lit like a candle, and people were seen dead.

Down there, a man called Brackle Katfur rushed out of his burning house. He raced to the train station. On the way, he saw houses and fire engines on fire. Along the road, there were millions of burnt cars. He went to the station and found it on fire. He raced out and thousands of bombs fell from the sky. The whole street crumbled. Fire was everywhere. Smoke covered everywhere. Katfur raced to a fireman and helped pump water. The flames were soon out.

Up there H'ing decided to let more bombs. He pressed the button and bombs fell. Down there, Katfur saw it. The bombs blasted the engine to pieces. Katfur ran away right into his house and led his family to the shelter. When he was inside, he heard a gigantic explosion. He glanced out, the whole house was like a comet. Burnt wreckage and dead dogs fell from the windows. A bomb fell down straight into the house and there was another gigantic explosion and where the house stood, there was a gigantic fire. Katfur slipped back in.

Up there H'ring stared at the burning city. He glanced at the fire and dropped more bombs to make fire big enough to burn London to rubble and burn Buckingham into a burnt shell. He dropped more bombs and stared.

Down there in a zoo, the zoo keeper rushed away. The big cats were burnt bodies. Sharks dropped into the sea and a few were burnt and one ate a human. Thousands of visitors were in the crocodile tank and birdhouse when the whole thing exploded and everything was burnt to ashes. The zoo keeper dived into the ground when a fire came and burnt him to pieces until his skeleton remained.

A visitor, Royan Caisoale, ran from the piranha tank. Thousands of burnt out cars were in front of him and burnt pigeons and eagles fell from the sky. The zebras galloped away only to be burnt to ashes. Snakes heads lay in a hole, and monkey skeletons hang from burnt trees. Royan rushed to the birdhouse and dragged a man away until he tripped and the man was burnt to ashes and he fell down and was burnt out.

In the hospital, children cried and dead bodies piled up. A nurse ran to a bed with a child in it. She took out a syringe and gave the child a shot of morphine and she cried. The child's father and mother were burnt to ashes. The nurse took out another syringe and gave the child a shot of adrenalin. Blood dripped from the child's mouth and the nurse gave the child another shot of morphine and left.

A bed pushed up. A nurse placed a child onto the bed. She bandaged and sewed up his wounds and she pumped air into the child's mouth then gave him blood transfusion and injected some penicillin.

Ambulances drove up with injured and nurses rushed everywhere. A pregnant woman's baby was injured and the baby was dying. It was hard to save him and it was now or never. A man had been nearly burnt to ashes and he was losing tons of blood. The doctors gave him blood transfusion and sewed him up. Many people had their legs burnt as aircrafts crashed and their bomb load went up with fuel to burn. Many burnt searchlights lay on roads making them hard for ambulances to drive through. People were burnt in their hearts and died. Thousands of dead lined in the hospital and there were people who got burnt in the head and died quickly. There were lots of blood and the beds were lined with morphine. There were so many injured that the hospital was running out of morphine. There were at least 30,000 people injured and 5,000 of them survived.

After that, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill ordered to bomb Berlin. And Avro Lancasters took off.

A British officer explained the plan to the pilots. He said, 'The first wave of Lancasters will first attack the centre of the city and damage Berlin Zoo, the main target. Berlin Zoo must be destroyed because the shelter under it contains many people. After a half hour break, the second wave of bombers, with an escort of Hurricanes, will attack the city and Zoo again. The third wave of bombers will close in at Berlin Zoo and finish the job and leave it burning. The last wave will attack Hitler's office and five Hurricanes will divide the fire of anti-aircraft guns.'

A pilot, Jack Gunbonb, saw a Messerschmitt 109 close in and ordered the gunners to attack. The Messerschmitt sent a hail of bullets through the wings and luckily the tail gunner sent a burst of fire into the fighter, tearing it apart. Then, a Messerschmitt 110 sent a bolt of fire into an engine, and it fell down and hit the fighter and it exploded. The pilot hit a button and dropped the load of bombs into Berlin and it lit up.

Down there, a man called Moker Diterly, dug for his son. Their house was rubble and the kitchen was in flames. He rushed out and a fire burnt him into ashes.

In Berlin Zoo, the zoo keeper dived into a crater. The shelter was wrecked and bombs broke the canteen. A fire then burnt him to ashes. A guest, H'ring Dis, ran far safely. The crocodile tank broke and split open by terror heat. The telephone lines to the fire station had been burnt to ashes. The bears had been burnt before their ripped brain remained. And then Dis was burnt to pieces.

The Berlin Hospital had a million dead people. Many nurses had been blasted. And Hitler was also injured. Bullets ripped through him and 200 nurses were called to serve him. So many nurses were dead that the hospital ran out of nurses.

At the second wave of bombers, a tail gunner suddenly saw a Messerschmitt 109 coming. It blasted the fuselage of the bomber. Luckily, the tail gunner shot the plane's entire nose off. The plane exploded. But a Focke-Wulf attacked and kept pumping shells into the cockpit. The gunner in the nose sent a hail of fire into the cockpit of Focke-Wulf and it burst into flames. But many controls were shot out and the oxygen mask for the pilot was torn apart. Then two Messerschmitt 110s sent a hail of fire into the cockpit. The tail gunner sent one exploding but the other one fired and the gunners fell dead. Then bullets made two engines fall off and they hit the fighter and exploded. Then the bombers dropped bombs and Berlin came alight.

Down there, a man called Mully Buj's ran away to help people when bombs fell. He ran to Berlin Zoo when it was a burning wreck. The cars were burnt to ashes and the shelters were ashes too. The parrots were so badly burnt that only the feathers remained. Bombs burst pipes and the bridge crossing the mangroves had fallen into the water and tornado winds sucked bombs, people and everything into the burning fires. The giraffes had been burnt until their bodies were ashes. Flying rocks smashed things very far away and one smashed Hitler's office. Firefighters came but bombs fell onto their heads and fell to pieces. Fire wrecked the pipes and trucks were sucked into the fires. Bricks rained overhead and rocks struck people's heads. Rocks smashed people. This was far better than the RAF hoped for. Sixty bombers - Results: Terror debris, flying boulders, falling rocks, terrible fires, trucks ablaze, tornado winds and red hot winds.

Hitler decided to finish the RAF by sending the Luftwaffe's whole fighter force and bomber force. He decided to crush the RAF then bomb London. He gave the order.

Helmunt woke up in his bed. He had the order. He ran out of his bed and into his Focke-Wulf. He took off. When they were over the English Channel, however, British fighters attacked them. Helmunt dodged when a Spitfire pumped shells through it's wings. He flew out of range onto the plane's tail and pumped a hundred shells and the Spitfire dived and hit the Channel.

Inside the Spitfire, Ken flew along the tip of the Channel and looked for Helmunt. There he was climbing. Easy meat!! But Helmunt was good and saw him. He climbed out of the way and fired at Ken. Ken climbed and out circled him but a Messerschmitt fired at him. Ken dived and climbed again and the Messerschmitt was skimming the sea. Ken followed and pumped a hundred shells at it. Helmunt followed him and fired. Ken faced Helmunt and fired. The shells burnt through Helmunt's canopy had injured him. Helmunt banked and disappeared. Then a pilot named Skyfee Sonks banked. A Messerschmitt was firing madly at him and torn his oxygen mask. Sonks climbed out of range and shot it down but a gunner in a Junker fired at him. He tried to climb out of range but the gunner shot his plane's wings out. He jumped out and the gunner shot him dead.

Meanwhile, hundreds of German planes exploded and Ken was shot in the arm.

'If the Germans continue, the pilots will simply die and Britain will too,' he thought.

And luckily Hitler realized that the Luftwaffe had lost 2,000 of it's pilots. Many of it's best pilots were dead and the RAF had only lost 300 pilots and aircraft. So Hitler ordered to retreat. But it was hard. They were running out of fuel and squadron after squadron of fighters attacked them and there were so many losses that Hitler decided he had to send the pilots who were in training to escort them. Even though they held the British back for a minute, they had almost lost all their pilots. At this rate, almost all pilots of the Luftwaffe died. The life of a German pilot became ten minutes after he had been sent up. Only 300 British pilots died and Hitler could not decide whether he should surrender. However, he decided without the air support he would lose the war, he finally surrendered. The first time ever the war began.

Ken landed his Spitfire. When he climbed out, Field Marshal Kedlics arrived. Ken saluted.

Field Marshal Kedlics saluted back and said, 'You have bravely shot down dozens of aircraft. You deserve the Victoria Cross!'

Ken's heart thudded with excitement, 'Can I contact my family?' asked Ken.

'Yes,' said Kedlics, 'They are already here.'

'I would like my plane there too,' requested Ken.

Kedlics said, 'Of course!' and said, 'Follow me.'

On the day, Ken walked along the lines of men. All of them saluted. He reached the end where his Spitfire and Kedlics were standing. Kedlics saluted and Ken saluted back. Kedlics then pinned the Cross on his chest. Ken gazed at the sky. Then two Hurricanes landed. His two shot down friends came out. Ken saluted. They saluted back.

To celebrate, Ken decided to visit his dad's grave but his family didn't want to go. So Ken visited the grave himself first. On the way back he saw a fish shop. He went in and saw a red Arowana.

He took it home and his sons said, 'Wow, a red Arowana!'

He put it in the goldfish bowl, but the Arowana gobbled them up. So Ken put it in a big tank and kicked the bowl out of the window. He then threw a goldfish and some Danios in the tank and the Arowana gobbled them up. Then they went out to a restaurant and on the way they brought a bottle of Arowana super tonic.

Ken said, 'Drat, a loss of many!'

When they went home, the Arowana looked very sick, so he grabbed the Arowana super tonic and put a few drops into the tank.

Helmunt was terribly exhausted when he landed his plane. He went home. He thought about a picture. One day, he was in his Junker when a Spitfire brushed passed. Helmunt saw a picture of a big family inside the cockpit of the Spitfire when his gunner shot it. He felt so sorry about the pilot and so he decided to quit the war and escape to Switzerland.

His family argued. There were some arrangements to be made. First, they had to buy the supplies, bread, 200 pounds of cheese, five tanks of milk, 2 kilograms of apples, 20 kilograms of cabbages, 200 gallons of fresh water, and 500 pounds of sardines. Then, they had to buy train tickets. They had to buy the cheapest tickets or they would have no money left to change for Swiss francs. In the end, it was all completed.

When Hitler knew, he was furious.

He ordered, 'Get two Junkers to bomb the train!'

Helmunt was eating a fish when the bombs blasted out his window. Helmunt saw lots of bombs falling. He told his family what was happening and ran before bombs burnt them to pieces.

Luckily in a few hours, the train crossed the Swiss border and the Junkers went away. When he arrived, he went to tell the British about Hitler's plans. He found a telegram coding machine and sent a telegram. He was very nervous. Would the British believe him? Luckily, they did and Helmunt went back to the hotel.

The next day after breakfast, Helmunt and his family were deciding what house to live in. One of Helmunt's sons suggested a posh house, but Helmunt's wife reminded him that they didn't have enough money. So they found the perfect place. It was a small cottage near a lake.

Helmunt got out his fishing rod and a pail and a net. He sat down beside the lake. He hooked a small Balashark and threw the hook into the water. Half an hour later, there was a gigantic tug on the rod and when Helmunt finally pulled it up, it was a 14-inch Oscar!

He said, 'Hey, look what I got!'

His three sons said, 'Unbelievable!!!'

He unhooked it, filled the pail with water, caught 5 Neon Tetras and dragged them home.

When his wife cooked the Oscar, Helmunt filled the Oscar's stomach with water and threw the Tetras inside!

He took a bite at the stomach and said, 'Yum!!!! Live Neon Tetras plus Oscar meat!!!'

Back in Britain, as the sleepy and exhausted pilots went on holiday, there were a lot of street parties, so much that you could barely hear the gunshots made by police trying to control the crowds.

Ken, asleep in his bed with a half full bottle of whisky which he was drinking the first few minutes, was woken up by the noise. He went to see his wife if she was also woken up by the noise. He saw she had woken up hours earlier and was playing monopoly with the children.

As he stepped into the room, his wife said to him, 'There is no more Yorkshire pudding, dear.'

Ken sent the family servant to buy some more with 10p. As the servant left the house, Ken checked the Arowana, which was hungry, so Ken reached into a drawer, pulled out a few Danios and fed them to the Arowana. As Ken washed his hands, he felt sleepy, so he went back to his room and finished the bottle of whisky and slept.

When he woke up again, he went down and saw the servant must have been back because his wife was preparing Yorkshire pudding for lunch. As Ken was about to go upstairs again, he saw that the children had not done any homework and were watching a terrifying movie instead.

Then Ken said to them, 'Do your homework!'

The children, not very happy to be disturbed, went to their personal stationary rooms, completed with personal desks, and did their homework while Ken enjoyed the rest of the terror movie. As the terror movie ended, Ken heard that lunch was ready. Ken ate his pudding pretty fast and then slept again.

After the battle of Britain, there was still war. Ken continued to work for the RAF and Helmunt now worked for the Swiss military force. But before the war could continue, Winston Churchill said some famous words:

'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.'
(September 2008)

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Going Strong

By Siobhan, 11, Glasgow, Scotland

My name is Raya Paws, and I am 12 years old, here is the story that helped save my mum. Here is a picture of my mum before the tragedy that occurred. Actually, this was the day before she got the scan. She always had messy hair and painted her lips with crimson paint and dressed uniquely, but she was still very pretty.

She was a good mum in many ways, she worked at home, painting, welcoming me home from school, encouraging me to write. But I was still a bit angry sometimes, she was very messy and has not bothered to go out finding a dad for me, I loved her though.

I left for school after I took this photo, I thought everything was alright. When I came back I was expecting all smiles, but it was dreary and grey. Mum was crying and crying and crying, hair as messy as ever. I rushed over to her and gave her a hug, 'What's wrong, mum?'

She pushed me away, after I calmed her down she eventually said, 'Hunee, I'll always love you, but you see, life is not perfect. I went to the doctors and they found a lump under my arm and it looks bad, real bad....It's cancer!' she started crying even more and even though I never cry, I found myself weeping.

That night I twisted and turned in my bed, I was so sweaty and pale and worried. When I drifted off the nightmares of death began, the grim reaper came to visit my mum, shaking his head he said, 'Yup, Patricia's better off dead. She has to die, her pain will end.'

I grabbed on to her but he shoved me to the ground and they disappeared and I couldn't stop crying.
When I woke up I cried too.

Mum slept all night and during the day, I sat cross legged at bottom of her bed, writing my story, I refused to go to school so I forged mums writing and wrote a letter from mum saying I was going on holiday and could you please excuse her and posted it to the school (it was the only way). Mum winced in her sleep, they were giving her this medicine and some of her hair was falling out.

Every so often I stood above mum and checked her breathing, just in case. Her beautiful hair all fell out in just a week. She said it would grow back after the therapy but until then she looked... different?

Mum got more active, she would sit up in bed, greeting me and waving me off to school. But when the therapy stopped after a long time she got ill. The people wanted to whisk me off to care, but mum insisted she'd hire a nanny for me. I hated other people looking after me because I was shy. But I went along with it.

The nanny hogged the TV AND the bathroom, so I read the paper for hours on end. I liked reading film and literature sections, and I came across something that made me very excited!

Are you a born writer? CAACC (Children and Adults Cancer Charity) are looking for young writers 7-15. Writing about you or a friend with cancer. Only 2 winners will be chosen and they will sell their book in hospitals and charity shops to raise money for CAACC! Submit your story in to the address below.

I was so excited! I looked for a new exercise jotter. (I had to go back to school but I never payed attention and nicked some jotters that I could write it)I wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote. I decided to show Mum but I had to creep up the stairs and paused for several minutes because the new Nanny forbid me to see Mum.

I read my story out to Mum, she laughed at bits but near the end she closed her eyes and tears slowly poured down.

'Mum, What's wrong, are you in pain?!?!' I stopped reading and comforted her.

She smiled, 'I'm crying because of the story, it touched my heart, you're a born writer and you will win the contest.'

We snuggled up together in the small bed, until I drifted off, Mum's arm around me. I submitted the story and they replied back saying thank you for the manuscript, check in the newspaper to see if I won or not.

A week after I got the letter I skimmed through the paper and there was my name!

Prudence Gillen and Raya Paws have won the CAACC book award and it will be published and sold and the money made will go to CAACC!

I didn't just gasp in amazement, I jumped up and down and cheered! I realized I had probably woke mum, but that was OK. I needed to tell her!

'MUM, look, I WON! WHOOP! THE MONEY MADE WILL GO TO YOU.' I bounced up and down on Mum's bed and she beamed with happiness.

'Let's read it then.'

She gave me a big hug when she finished reading. Her thick lovely hair is nearly back. The doctors and the nurses say that she has a good chance of surviving. My book and Prudence's made $300000!!!!

Maybe, when I'm older, I'll become a writer and donate half my earn to all charities around the world, maybe even more of it. When I write my first ever best selling book I'll obviously dedicate it to the best person in the world, whose going strong even after breast cancer...My Mum, Patricia Paws!
(September 2008)

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The Other Worlds

By Nayantara, 14, Harrow, Middlesex, UK

Night was descending on Amethyst as the street lamps stuttered down onto the roads; flickering on and off. The sky was starless and clear; allowing the moon to shine it's eerie light upon the silent city. It's port overlooked the still heavens that were reflected clearly onto the calm and gentle water, yet all the doors were barred and locked and every window was shut with curtains drawn tightly. The smell of cheap cigars floated and mixed in with the scent of flowers 'Cherry Blossoms' (as this was the towns main flower) creating an unpleasant odor that blew across the city. The smoke seemed to have originated from a thatched, run down house a few meters from the town square. A figure squatted near the door as the smoke materialized from the darkness. The hidden figure then rose and edged forward, into the moonlight; and there stood a man. He gazed at the still skies, perplexed, as if he did not like what he saw. But what did he see? He let out a deep sigh and took one last puff from his foul smelling cigar before abruptly throwing it aside. He turned and made his way back to his house.

'Another one. It's been some time since the last one arrived. I wonder how long'?' muttered the mysterious man, as he pushed his door closed.

A few miles away from the city, trees adorned with tender pinks and creamy whites coated the land. This was the famous Cherry Blossom Garden that Amethyst was known for. A beautiful stretch of land that, during the day, was crowded with tourists and townspeople alike. On special holidays, merchants and shop sellers would set up their stalls; selling extraordinary goods, from anti-clock wise clocks, to the finest spices from India.

However, during the night, the garden was abandoned and deserted. The stalls were packed away, and people were back in the safety of their homes. The people of Amethyst, though they were easy going and laid back, were very superstitious. Once the sun had set not a soul could be found outside.

A sudden gush of wind whistled in from the south, causing a whirlpool of petals. They weaved in and out of the trees, performing an intricate dance to the orchestrated winds. The clouds forcefully blocked out the moon, causing darkness to fall upon the garden. As wind died down, the petals fell to the floor and lay still.

The clouds parted, and the strangely, bright light fell upon a young red head, who lay still on the grass. Was he dead? A sudden twitching of the body showed he was alive. He stood up slowly, and raised his head slightly; his blazing red eyes piercing the air. He darted them around the trees, taking in his new yet familiar surroundings.

'Eurgh, where am I? Al? Al!? Alphonse?' shouted the red head, his voice echoing throughout the garden. He strolled around the garden, looking around as he did so.

'Huh? Cherry Blossom Garden? I don't get it. It didn't work,' muttered the boy to himself.

He took a few more paces before he found what he was looking for. Another red head, much like himself, lay on the cold grass. He wasn't moving.

'Al...' whispered the red head with fear in his voice. No reply. Within moments, he was by his brother's side. Panic took over and he began to breathe heavily. Soon he was shaking the body roughly, screaming,

'Al!! Come on Alphonse!!' but there was no movement.

He was getting more and more anxious but he kept shaking, hoping his brother would awake.

'Eurgh,' whimpered the boy.

'Oh thank god!' exclaimed the scared red head.

He slumped down against a nearby tree and tried to calm down. His brother, now fully awake, adjusted himself so he was sitting next to his brother.

'Alastor?' questioned the boy, looking at his freckled brother.

'Yea Alphonse?' replied Alastor, smiling weakly, his pinkish lips almost blending in with his pale complexion.

'Did it work?' queried the young red head, staring intently with his fiery red eyes; much like his brother's.

'I don't know Al. Well, this is the Cherry Blossom Gardens, that's for sure. But is it ours? If it isn't, then the connection worked. The connection to the 'other' world. But I'm worried Al. I don't know how we're going to get back,' Alastor expressed how he felt about the matter.

'Well, let's wait till the sun comes up, and we'll make our way to town. Maybe we'll find someone,' proclaimed an optimistic Alphonse.

So the brothers sat side by side in silence, each occupied with their own thoughts and feelings. Alastor was wondering what happened. How did he get here? Did it work? He knew he had used alchemy to open the portal. He also recalled a book, a thick, sturdy ledger or some sort, that contained spells and charms that his grandfather, Lucius Fredrick Marcus, had come up with, found, or passed down. They found it in their holiday home attic. The book was dusty and covered with scratches. It looked like no one had used it for some time. There was also the letter that they found along with it:

'To my dear grandchildren, Alastor Storm Peach Viktor Rider & Alphonse Johann Crystal Rider, I know you will find this book. I want both of you to have this. Take good care of it, and use it wisely. Also, don't do anything stupid with it, and don't show it to anyone.
Lucius Fredrick Marcus.'

'I wonder how he knew...' pondered Alastor. The boys took great care of the book, and had much fun during their holidays with it, casting small yet fun spells, that kept them occupied for many days.

However, one spell that caught the young masters eyes was one called 'The Other World'. It didn't require much and there weren't any special ingredients. As long as one knew alchemy it was plain simple. All that was needed was: a large area where they could draw the basic Sorcerer's Mind, also known as a Transmutation Circle which was a series of, intricate circles, interconnecting with a two pentagons that were drawn inside it.

Alastor did not need a circle to perform alchemy, but for a spell this huge, it was best to have one. The boys were taught Alchemy by their grandfather at a very young age. Alchemy is a science where one understands the structure of a matter, breaks it down and then rebuilds it. If used correctly it can change plain lead into gold. However, it's still a science, so the principles of nature still apply. You can only create something of certain mass from something of the same mass. In other words, to gain something, you will need to sacrifice something of equal value. It's what is known as Equivalent Trade.

Although, Alphonse was not as capable as Alastor, Alphonse was in charge of all the calculations that went into performing the enchantment. If the calculation was wrong, so was the spell. Alphonse played a big part in Alastor's work, whether he knew it or not. Together they had won many prizes. There was one in particular, a golden pocket that Alastor carried everywhere and treasured with his life. It was proof that he and his brother were State Alchemists. Since then they had been traveling, going around the world and showing off their alchemy and helping people along the way.

'Ah, good days,' thought Alastor happily.

'Alastor, let's get going.'

Alphonse's subtle voice interrupted Alastor's day dreaming. He got up and stretched. His brother waited patiently, gazing at the morning sky. They stood and watched as the delicate colours of pinks and oranges flooded the sky. It had taken a while, but dawn had approached. Soon, they started to make their way uphill, towards Amethyst.

It didn't take them long before they saw the all too familiar sign welcoming visitors to Amethyst. They walked through the towering gates that were open in the morning and shut at night, separated the city from the Garden and took they're first step into what seemed to be an empty city. However, it was anything but, as deafening sounds came at them from every side.

'Alastor, did we just?'

'Yup. It must've been the gates,' chuckled Alastor.

'I knew it was too good to be true! Amethyst is always crowded!' exclaimed Alphonse, also laughing.

They had walked through a Fake Screen. A Fake Screen is something cities put in front of their entrance to make it seem a lot nicer to the outside. It's like walking through a portal. It's a way of luring people into a town. The main problem with Fake Screens is that you can't leave through the portal you entered. The exiting portal lies on the other side of the city. On the other hand, to get to the other end, one would pass all the extravagance and luxury of the town before leaving. Fake Screens always gets people to stay at the city longer and sometimes actually take up residence.

It was a bright and cloudless day as they started their journey, searching for someone who had any idea of how to get back. On the way they passed merchants and tradesmen from over seas, dressed extravagantly in rich shades of every colour and fabric, selling an assortment of things, from silks and velvets, to fine china and marvelous pottery. Vases in all shapes and sizes were displayed, while the grandest designs, said to be worn by the Queen herself were put on offer. Women argued loudly on the prices while their husbands placed bets and lost on the gambling games. Other women who could afford the best, and walked around in the top clothes and designs, talked with those who could provide such luxuries. Other merchants included those who sold food. The best meat was sold at the highest prices, and over sea fruits like mangoes were to the townspeople only things you hear about in legends. Wine was also sold, with the richest buying the best, while the middle class bought young wine.

A sudden blow on the trumpets alerted the people and soon everyone had started to gather and cheer as eccentric street performers took to the streets. Magicians and jugglers, snake charmers and illusionists, clad in colorful outfits of reds, blues, and greens stormed through the people on carts, driven by large, white horses. Belly dancers wearing short revealing clothes in bright colours of purples and yellows blew kisses at young men while the fire walkers charmed the ladies. Laughter echoed through the streets as the performers charged forward, towards their destination. The townspeople followed right behind them, eager and excited. Children's voices could be heard, happily talking to one another, all anxious to what was going to come when they reached the performers tents. Women chatted away, gossiping about the single men performers, while the men, already drunk, shouted at the top of their voices merrily.

'Can we join them, Alastor?' pleaded Alphonse, staring longingly at the crowd. Alastor looked at Alphonse, and replied sadly,

'Sorry Al, we just don't have time.'

'Fine,' grumbled Alphonse, disappointed.

The brothers decided that they'd better start moving too and continued their journey.

The sun was setting when they finally got out of the town square and entered a street named Shutter's Street. They walked down it, not really knowing where they were going, but one thing they knew was that, if they had any chance of getting any answers, it would be to go to the other side of the city, where the port was; over looking the oceans. So they walked on. They began to wonder if they were going the right way; the houses seemed to be getting worse and worse. Instead of the beautiful, white houses that stood tall alongside grand flats, here there were run down, abandoned, desolate buildings that looked out of place.

'What, what is this'?' whispered Alphonse, in utter shock.

The boys carried on walking and soon they began to notice something. A smell. The smell of cheap cigars and Cherry Blossoms was creating a foul odor. It seemed to be coming from a run down shack a couple of houses down.

'I would have expected whoever it is to be at the show?' mentioned Alphonse in a low voice.

'Let's go check it out,' replied Alastor, and both boys made their way towards the smoke.

The figure sat on a chair, hidden by the darkness. He saw the two boys approaching and took a puff of his cigar.

'Finally,' murmured the mysterious person.

He stood up and took a step forward, so that the boys could see him. Alphonse gasped and his brother swore. The man was tall, at least five foot six, and was naturally thin. He had soft silver hair, and his eyes were a piercing shade of fiery red. In other words, he looked exactly like Lucius Fredrick Marcus; the brothers grandfather.

'Grand...father,' mumbled Alastor, as he stared into those fierce eyes, much like his own.

'It has to be!' thought Alastor, 'No other clan has those eyes.'

'Pardon? I go by the name Lazarus. Lazarus Anthony Marcus. I was awaiting your arrival. Although, I didn't expect there to be two,' mentioned Lazarus, and nudged his head towards Alphonse.

The boys just stood in shock.

'He has the same last name,' noticed Alastor.

He stared at the man and realized that he was waiting for a response, and swiftly began introductions.

'My name is Alastor, Alastor Storm Peach Viktor Rider. This is my brother, Alphonse Johann Crystal Rider,' stated Alastor, looking straight at the man.

'Right. I am guessing you want a way home?' inquired the man in a wispy voice.

He didn't seem to be taken aback by the names, let alone the eyes. This told Alastor that the man, though looked like his Grandfather, was, somehow, not.

'You know how to get back?' asked Alphonse, slightly shocked.

The man sniggered, 'Of course I do! It's been a while, but this has been happening for decades. It's been almost ten years since I've seen one of you lot. Look, I don't want to talk to you people. Personally I'd rather not talk to anyone at all. So...'

'I can't believe he's not grandfather. He's so much like him! Maybe he's related?' thought Alastor to himself.

'Cherry Blossom Garden, go wait there for me,' finished Lazarus, and shut his door.

'Err... where?' Alastor began before getting abruptly cut off.

'Just come with me! Always day dreaming Alastor,' scolded Alphonse, 'But he was very much like grandfather wasn't he?' commented Alphonse with a weak smile.

'He definitely was!' replied Alastor, and both boys, with thoughts of the grandfather, made their way to the other portal, to leave Amethyst and re-visit the Cherry Blossom Garden, where their journeys first began.

The sun had set, and the moon was up. Everyone had once again locked the house doors, and the performers show seemed to have finished too. As the boys had reached the Gardens, the wind seemed to have gotten colder and sharper. Each gust of wind seemed to pierce the boys, as they waited for their grandfather-look alike to appear.

'Okay, I have to warn you first,' Lazarus appeared before them with a long black coat on and a pair of white gloves with the Sorcerer's Mind imprinted onto them.

'I'm not guaranteeing you that you will reach back safely. That said, I want to warn you that, if this goes wrong, it is usually the end of you. Are you ready?'

He looked at the boys, who, though fear has struck their eyes, were ready.

'Wait,' interrupted Alphonse unexpectedly, 'Are you sure you are not our grandfather?'

Both boys looked at Lazarus, with questioning eyes. He sighed silently and replied,

'I guess you better know he was my brother. We came here, just like yourselves, out of boredom, but when we heard that it could go wrong, and one of you could die, I let him go instead. He had a much brighter future than me, and had already been arranged to get married. I never saw him again after that. Well, occasionally I thought I saw him in my dreams, but I was never sure.'

'Sir Gra... ' Alastor starts before getting interrupted.

'Look it doesn't matter, let's get this over with!' shouted the man, as the winds start to pick up pace.

The boys nodded, ready for what was going to happen. Alphonse looked at his older brother, fear and panic flowing out of his red eyes.

'It's going to be okay Al,' Alastor assured his brother.

'Is it'?' Alastor asked himself.

It began. Lazarus started chanting;

'May the skies open up between here and there, creating a bond based on fear, oh god open up your heavenly skies, and let them pass through your guarded device, the gate, the gate of...' Lazarus began screaming, but soon became inaudible.

The wind became faster, and gushed through them, slashing left and right. The petals were lifted off the ground and dance was once again performed. Lazarus began chanting in Latin. A loud noise, as if something had come crashing down to earth, was made. The boys opened their scared eyes and saw a gate; a big gate with illegible inscriptions on it. It slowly opened, and there, was something indescribable. It was the unknown. Everything lost, everything found, everything dead, everything alive. Round and round it went, swirls and whirls of objects and colours that made up the world. The boys looked on, panic-stricken and speechless.

'This, this can't be God's Gate!?' Alastor thought, shocked yet amazed at the truly spectacular scene before him, 'I can't believe this, this wasn't how we got here. I knew there was something different in the incantation, but to bring up God's Gate,' mused Alastor, in utter disbelief as to what was happening.

On the other hand, Alphonse stared silently, afraid of what was going to happen. He didn't want to lose his brother. He was tense and nervous.

'Get ready!!' yelled Lazarus.

Both boys looked at each other, apprehensive but with no other option.

'Go!!' screamed Lazarus, and, as if by fright, the boys leaped in. Warped noises came, as the boys got sucked into the portal, connecting both worlds. A loud yet clear bang followed, as the gate shut. Lazarus looked on, hoping for the best. Would he ever see them again? He sighed, and began to walk back to Amethyst. His uncontrollable feeling of sadness that he was trying to cover overwhelmed him, and before he knew it, tears of sorrow and loss slid down his old, yet wise face.

'It can't be helped,' thought Lazarus and let them fall onto the petals beneath his feet.

Meanwhile, inside God's Gate, the brothers, through the sickening movements of the portal, had lost each other. Screams, some not even theirs could be heard as they were plunged deep through the gate.

'Alastor!! Alastor!!' cried Alphonse.

No response. He screamed out for his brother a million times, while being tossed and turned. Nonetheless he got no response. Unimaginable terrors passed him, while on the other side he could see a child's happy memories. His mind felt like someone was overloading him with knowledge. Knowledge of everything and everyone, but Alphonse wasn't up for it. He couldn't take it anymore and began screaming. Screams filled with agony and pain.

'Aaaaaarrrrgggh!! Stop, stop, please!!' Alastor swiftly faced the direction of the sound, knowing all too well who it was.

He knew what his young brother was going through, for he himself felt it.

'Al!! Alphonse!!! Al!!!!!!' yelled Alastor, for now, after another churning of the gate he could see his brother.

Alphonse was in torment. He heard his brother's voice, but the knowledge suffocated him, and with so much information overloaded onto him, he had no room to recognize anything else. Alastor tried to reach his younger brother, yet, no matter how much he wanted to go towards him, something was pulling him in the other direction, somewhere unknown. Knowing what was going to happen, Alastor made a decision. He reached into his pocket of his black jeans and pulled out a beautiful golden pocket watch. He looked across at his brother and noticed that there was something behind him.

'Is that the gate opening? I'll never make it,' thought Alastor.

He caressed the polished object in his hand, and in a second, without hesitation, threw it with all his might, hoping it would make Alphonse. He saw it piercing the force of the gate the one pushing him to the other side plunging straight for Alphonse. The gate opened and Alphonse fell out, head first, and began panting uncontrollably. Thud. He turned his head, and there one the floor, lay the pocket watch; shining in the morning sun.

'Alastor,' whispered Alphonse.

He looked up, and was just in time to catch the gate disappearing. Clutching the pocket watch tightly, he began to cry silently. He heard the children playing happily around him, and merchants selling their goods.

'Back home,' he thought.

Five years later...

July, Fifteenth, 1923

Dear Diary,

It's been five years, today, since I've seen the God's Gate. Since I landed here, in Enix. I haven't seen Al since then either. I sometimes think I see him, in my dreams. But I'm not sure. I hope the pocket watch made it to him. I wonder what he's doing? How he is? Maybe, someday, we'll meet.

July, fifteenth, 1923
Dear Diary,

It's been five years since then. Since me and Alastor split. Even though Grandpa Lazarus said if it went wrong, it would be the end of us, I know Alastor isn't dead. I've seen him. In my sleep. And I'm going to look for him. Somehow. I'll open up another Gate, and bring him back.
(September 2008)

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