The Girl Who Could Fly

June 9, 2008
By Dominique Johnson, Philadelphia, PA

Zachary Taylor was his name, and ever since he had moved to the mysterious town of Johnsonville, strange things had been happening to him. He has been chased by a mysterious creature and found himself transported from one place to the next in the blink of an eye.

However, since the move, so far everything had been good. He was somewhat popular at school thanks to his friend Samantha Smartbright. Samantha happened to be the smartest, cutest, and most popular girl there. His grades were fine, and he had other friends—Max “Jokestine” Jones, who tries to hard to act cool and be the center of attention, but is just plain funny; and the muscle bound, athletic, gym-loving Deandre Armstrong.

The day Zach was moving from the City, he had received a strange book from the new occupant now inhabiting his home. Without thinking, he took it, and threw into the back of his step-father’s van. He’d been so busy adjusting to his new life that he hadn’t even thought about the connection that book might have with the weird things that were going on around him.

It was September 21, a day Zach surely wouldn’t forget. The day he met the girl who could fly and learned that the weird things that were currently happening to him was just beginning.

It was a Thursday afternoon and Zach was coming home from school. Normally he would be walking and talking with his friends, most recently about the weird things that were happening around him. But today was the eve of the fall dance at Johnsonville High and because Samantha was his date she was busy doing work so she could have nothing to do, but talk and have fun with him the following day. Max and Deandre, however, hated the idea of the dance so much that they decided to take a day off from school.

Zach was walking, minding his own business when he stumbled across what looked like his book on a trail that led to a big mansion. This was strange because he could have sworn that he left the book in a bunch of boxes at home. He picked it up, of course, only to find himself suddenly in the basement of the mansion. Zach looked around, but could only see the light shining in from the dusty windows. He started sweating, his heart was beating furiously, and he was getting scared. That is, until he felt a gentle breeze surround him. He spun around to see a teenage girl.

“Who are you,” Zach asked nervously.

“I’m a something,” the girl replied, whom Zach noticed was wearing a long black dress and had short straight hair.

“A something?” Zach replied, confused.

“Yes, a something” she said, coming closer.

“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Zach said, stepping back.

“How so?”

“A something is…is…just…nothing!”

“Not really a something, but a someone… not a human, of course, but a being.”

“A being?”

“Yes! Can you hear at all? I’m sure your ears do more then frame your face, right?”

“Who are you? How’d you get down here?”

“In this mansion that’s been abandoned for years?? You know, curiosity killed the cat…Wait, where are you going?”

Zach had heard enough. He didn’t want to stay in the dark basement with this strange girl any longer. He quickly turned to the steps, making his way out when the girl turned up in front of him.

“Why did you run away? Are you scared of girls?” she asked in a disappointed voice.

“You’re a girl!” Zach said, surprisingly.

“That’s rude to say,” she said, crossing her arms and turning around, “but yes I’m a girl.”

“You’re starting to sound like Samantha.”

“Who?” she added, as she turned back around, interested.

“Never mind! What…who are you?”

“You don’t remember me, but I gave you that book that you hold in your hands.”

Zach looked at the book closely, and then turned his attention back to the girl.

“But a man gave me this.”

“I can change my appearance, change my voice. I could sound like you, if I wanted.”

Again Zach made an attempt to run up the flight of stairs, but the teenage girl cut him off once again.

“Why do you keep running away? Don’t you want to talk anymore?” she asked.

“Stop doing that,” Zach said, clutching his chest.

“Doing what?”

“Reappearing like that! It’s weird…you’re weird!”

“That’s another rude thing to say…you know, you’ll never get a girlfriend saying things like that.”

“Gi-girlfriend?? What are you talking about?”

“Nothing, just saying… girls like boys who are polite and truthful. Anyway do you wanna see something?”

And just like that Zach found himself outside of the mansion. At first, he thought he was falling and quickly held his eyes shut, but feeling what appeared to be clouds hit his face and the smell of the fall air in his nostrils he soon realized that he was flying. Not just flying, but soaring through the skies. Up and down they went. Zach felt the inside of his stomach do constant flips. He looked over at the girl who was surprisingly smiling at him.

“We’re flying,” she said, standing up.

“I can see that, but on what?” Zach said, covering his eyes again as he felt himself do another flip in the air.

“On my carpet. You could see if you’d uncover your eyes.”

“I’m afraid to look. Flying has never been my thing.”

As if walking on solid ground, the girl strolled across the flying carpet, sitting down in front of Zach Indian- style looking outward at the view.

“You know Zach, Fall is my favorite time of the year,” she said, as she moved her fingers though her short jet black hair.

“Mine too…though it may be the fact that I was born in October,” he replied casually then abruptly interjected, “Wait, wait, whoa… how do you know my name?”

“How do I know your name? You should at least know mine.”

“No, I shouldn’t.”

“Yes, you should. Read that book sometime.”

Zach sat the book on his lap, flipping to the first page. He noticed a large picture of the girl flying in the air with no carpet at all, and under the picture in bold print read:

“This book belongs to Shanika Shamanistic Maywood,” he read aloud.

“That’s the name,” Shanika said, getting up.

“OK Shanika, answer me…how do you know my name?” Zach asked again.

“Well, if you must know, the day you and your teacher…what’s his name…Mr. Harris…were being chased by Bigfoot I’m the one who saved you two. I heard him say your name a couple of times while he was running, though I really didn’t need for him to say your name.”

“You had already known my, wait; Bigfoot…that dude’s real?”

“Oh, he very much is and he’s very dangerous sometimes. In fact, he lives around here somewhere. You see, he moves from place to place. I’ve been to see him a couple of times, though I’m not allowed to say where he’s been living.”

Zach stared at her for a minute, trying to process every thing Shanika had just said.

“Why?” he asked, not believing he actually asked the question.

“Unwanted visitors. He hates that. That’s why you and your teacher were getting chased. Except for me. I can visit him,” she said smugly.

“Well, what makes you an exception?”

“I’m nice and can be trusted…So, now that I’ve told you about him, do you believe me or do you still think I’m weird like so many others in the vast world?”

“Oh, I still think you’re weird, but evidently what you’re telling me is true. One, because I was being chased by something tall. And two, I’m on a flying carpet.”

“Are there any stranger things in the world then teenagers?” Shanika asked.

“What’s that supposed to mean…You look like a teen yourself!”

“Oh, I am, thank you for noticing.”

“Is there a point to this?”

“You’re in grave danger,” Shanika whispered suddenly.

As she spoke, Shanika pushed Zach off of the carpet. She waved goodbye, smiling as he fell. Zach, of course, screamed as he did flips and turns in the sky. But he landed softly on the ground in front of his house, unharmed. He looked up in the sky to see if he could still see Shanika but she was gone.

“Somebody is going to believe me,” Zach rambled. He stood up and looked around. “Because, I just fell from the…and then I…no, no, no, no, somebody is going to sit down and listen to me but…but I think I need a drink…s-soda is not going to do anything for this… I need water… water, there we go.”

After getting his drink of water, Zach paced the kitchen floor. He looked over the book numerous times but saw nothing but Shanika’s picture. Who was going to believe him? Certainly not his parents. Then he thought of someone who would…his teacher, Mr. Harris who lived just across the street. Zach ran out the house, but got sidelined when he bumped into Samantha.

“Hi Zachary,” she said sweetly. She often referred to him by only his full name. To her, it seemed more mature. Zach didn’t mind. In his view, it was a compliment. “I was just coming over to ask you if you wanted to go to the mall tomorrow, you know to just hang out. We could go straight to the dance from there.”

“Um, tomorrow…uh yeah, see um, um…Samantha, how ‘bout I just meet you at the dance? I have to go somewhere tomorrow…you know my moms.” Zach said hurriedly.

“Oh OK, well, I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

She left smiling broadly. Zach didn’t want her to know what just happened to him. And he wasn’t too crazy about the idea of going to the dance with her either. He didn’t really like dancing or parties. He was only going because his mom found out about it from Samantha and insisted that he would go.

“Mr. Harris! Mr. Harris!” he called as he knocked on the door.

“Ah, Zach, come here for extra credit?” Mr. Harris said as he opened up.

“No, but I’ll keep that in mind… Mr. Harris, man… you won’t believe what happened to me.”

“Oh? Well, come in then! Sorry about the mess. I can get a little messy at times when I’m grading papers, doing experiments, sorting through computer parts…but what did you want to talk about?”

“Remember when we were being chased…the night we were walking to the grand opening of my parents’ store?”

“Do I!” Mr. Harris said, as he grabbed for a cup of fruit punch. “A person couldn’t forget a night like that!”

“Do you know who was chasing us?”

“No, I was running with you. Besides…who would look back when they’re being chased?”

“Would you believe it was Bigfoot?”

Mr. Harris took a big gulp of his fruit punch before looking back at Zach. Zach didn’t know what to expect. If somebody told him a story like this, he wouldn’t believe it either.

“I believe you,” Mr. Harris finally said.

“You do!”

“I mean…we were getting chased by something, but what makes you think it was… Bigfoot?”

Zach began telling Mr. Harris the whole story, from the point when he got the book up to how he met Shanika. He told Mr. Harris so much that Mr. Harris started drinking the entire bottle of fruit punch.

“Ok, Zach, this is starting to sound a bit strange. It really is. We did get chased by something. But Bigfoot? Yet, we did find ourselves in front of the store pretty quickly. I just don’t know.”

Zach looked down at his watch, realizing the time. He shoved the book to Mr. Harris and walked toward the door. “Listen Mr. Harris, tomorrow I’m going back to the mansion. I have to go now because I don’t want to get in trouble with my mom but can you see if you can find out anything on that book?”

“Uh, ok” Mr. Harris said as he looked down at the strange object in his hands.

“Thanks, and see you tomorrow.”

The next day flew by pretty quickly. So much in fact, that Zach thought Shanika had a hand in it. Throughout the entire day, and during the night before, all he could think about was her. Even Mrs. Thorne’s loud screaming in math class couldn’t negatively affect his day…until he ran into Samantha after school.

“So, I’ll see you tonight?” she asked, smiling. “Wait until you see what I wear! And my hair… it’s going to be… Zachary what’s wrong?”

Samantha had noticed that Zach wasn’t paying her any attention, but he instead was looking down at the ground. He knew he couldn’t go on like this. He didn’t want to go tonight and do nothing. If he did, it would ruin the evening for her.

“I’m not coming tonight,” he said hurriedly, not really thinking of how else to say it.

The two of them stood there silent for what seemed like hours. Zach couldn’t believe he just said that and didn’t know how Samantha was going to respond. Ever since he said yes on that faithful day sitting in Mr. Harris’ jeep, she’d been happy. At some point deep in the discussion of how the dance was the way to meet people, Samantha had asked Zach if he wanted to be her date. It seemed that she really wanted to go. That was also the day Zach thought he saw a girl on a flying carpet.

Everyday since that day Zach and Samantha had been together just about everywhere—at the mall, the park, the movies. Max and Deandre thought maybe this was too much but Zach didn’t really mind.

“…why?” Samantha finally spoke. “This isn’t about that stupid law or code Max showed you? I told you…”

“No, it’s not about that. In fact, if I did tell you, you wouldn’t believe me anyway. Besides it’s not too late to get another escort. I know the dance is tonight, but Samantha…every boy at school wants to go with you.”

“But I wanted to go with you, Zachary! That’s why I asked you! I thought it would be fun. I mean, think of this as practice for the 11th and 12th grade proms.”

“To tell you the truth, Samantha, I never wanted to go. I never went to any of my school’s dances or events unless my mom made me. I usually just chill at home.”

Zach looked at Samantha and waited for the fallout. He didn’t quite know what to expect. He had seen girls get upset before, screaming and cursing, but Samantha did none of this.

“So you just said yes because your mom made you.”

“Well yeah and something else just actually came up, but I figured because that there are others beside me that you wouldn’t mind.”

“…you know what, Zach” Samantha said calmly, “I’m not mad. I mean, it’s only a dance. I’ll just go with Tasha. And you’re right…I’ll probably have someone else to go with.”

“Great. So I’ll see you later.”

Zach walked away, not noticing that Samantha had called him Zach, not Zachary. He did feel a little better though because he had been perfectly honest, but what he feared the most was telling his mom. He was so wrapped in the thought that he didn’t hear Mr. Harris yelling for him further down the trail leading from school.

“Zach, wait a minute!” Mr. Harris called after him, holding the strange red book tight in one hand and his briefcase in the other. “Here! I checked everywhere last night and called my friend who works at a library…who called other people who worked at libraries…but nothing came out about this book.”

“OK, thanks anyway Mr. Harris,” Zach said as he took the book.

“Wait. I was wondering…could I meet this Shanika? I mean… it would be interesting…”

“Umm, sure, it shouldn’t be a problem with her. I think she likes attention.”

Mr. Harris and Zach walked threw the short trail to the huge mansion. Waiting on the porch, holding tightly to the magic carpet, was Shanika. “Alright, you came back!” she said excitedly as she jumped off the porch. “Oh hi, Mr. Harris. I didn’t think you would come.”

Mr. Harris looked back at Zach; he didn’t expect that remark at all.

“Look Shanika! You said I was in grave danger,” Zach said as he stepped up to her.

“No…you’re not in grave danger,” she said, as she laid the carpet on the ground. “It was a joke. Nothing serious.”

Zach couldn’t believe what he was hearing. The sole purpose of him coming to see her was because of that statement but before he could say anything more he and Mr. Harris found themselves flying in the air on the carpet.

“Why do you keep doing that?” Zach asked as he covered his eyes again.

“Do what? I didn’t appear or reappear?”

“… Why don’t you tell me why you gave me this book, I mean, it doesn’t appear like anything too dangerous.”

“I trust you and Mr. Harris, so I’ll tell you,” she said, as she started to float above the carpet. “That book you hold in your hands is just a small part of something greater.”

“Do you mean that this book is magic?” Zach said, uncovering his eyes and examining the book.

“You’ll see in good time.” Shanika smiled.

The three of them flew through the sky of Johnsonville all afternoon. It was nice. The sun was setting, which made the sky a nice orange-pinkish color and the gentle breeze of Fall fell across their faces. “Shanika, you wouldn’t mind if I take a few pictures of you, would you?” Mr. Harris asked, as he took a digital camera from his pocket.

“Certainly! It’s not everyday you get see a pretty girl like me flying. Besides I haven’t had a picture taken of me since the one in that book.”

As Mr. Harris took the pictures, Zach looked down for the first time and noticed something strange. There was a row of uprooted trees.

“Shanika, do you know why the trees down there are all knocked down?” he asked

“No, but I have a pretty good idea. I’ll go check. You two stay right here and don’t go anywhere.”

Shanika flew straight down into the forest. Zach thought it was pretty funny that she said not to go anywhere; they couldn’t even if they wanted to…they were on a flying carpet that was now suspended in mid-air, after all. A few minutes later, Shanika streaked through the sky back up to them, grabbing the ends of the carpet and pulling it at a harsh angle back down to earth towards the school.

“What’s the matter?” Mr. Harris shouted as the wind stung his face.

“There’s no time to explain, but Zachary I’m going to drop you off in front of the school. I need you to warn everybody to get out,” she said nervously.

“Umm, ok” Zach replied, scared to death though he had no idea why.

“Mr. Harris, I’m going to need your help.”

As they approached the school, Zach jumped off of the carpet. He wasn’t sure how he was going to get everybody to listen to him. He was convinced that something had to be very wrong for Shanika to tell him to warn everybody. As he entered the large cafeteria filled with students, a thought filled his head: What if it was all a joke? But if it was, would Shanika sound so serious and talk in such a nervous voice? Looking around the room, he saw Samantha talking with the other girls. He took a deep breath and ran over to her. She would listen.

“Samantha, Samantha,” he said, grabbing her arm and pulling her far from the crowd. “Listen…you…got…to…help…me.”

Zach leaned over on his knees, out of breath, trying to gain some composure because he didn’t feel like he was making much sense. As he looked back up at Samantha, he noticed that her usual bushy ponytail wasn’t bushy but neat. And she was wearing a jean skirt with a red shirt that proclaimed “Boys Suck!” He figured he couldn’t blame her for that one.

“I don’t have to go anywhere with you, Zach!” she shouted. “I’m trying to have a good time ‘chilling’ with my girls!” She began to walk away, but not before turning back around at Zach and saying: “F.Y.I… Tasha doesn’t like you!”

“You know what?” Zach said as he looked at Samantha’s back. “I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.”

Before he could go get Samantha and tell her the story, Shanika and Mr. Harris came crashing through the window and quickly zoomed back out. Everyone in the cafeteria ran outside to see what was going on. Zach was the first one through the door.

Outside, everybody crowded around Mr. Harris and some strange teenage girl holding what looked like a huge carpet with something moving inside of it. Throughout the crowd, you could hear tons of whispered questions saying things like:

“Is that Mr. Harris?”
“Who’s that girl with him?”
“I wonder if we’ll get extra credit if we help him.”

“Shanika, here!” shouted Mr. Harris, as he threw one end of the carpet to her.

Taking the carpet into her hands, Shanika (who didn’t look that strong, but actually was) started swinging what was inside the carpet back into the forest. With the carpet folded neatly over one arm, Shanika floated down from the sky and landed gently in the center of the crowd. Everyone stood there—lost in a combination of shock, confusion and surprise--looking at her and Mr. Harris, not quite knowing what to say.

“Shanika… Mr. Harris… are you two alright?” Zach said as he made his way through the crowd.

Shanika spoke up first. “Yup, we’re ok. That was a close one! Mr. Harris, I’d like to thank you…but please don’t tell anybody what that was… except for Zach of course.”

“Ok Shanika… and you’re welcome.”

“Well I’d better get going…drawing too much attention!” She laid the carpet back on the ground and stepped on it. Zach stopped her by laying his hand on her shoulder.

“You’re leaving?” he asked.

“Aww, you’re going to miss me…how sweet!” she said, as she turned around.

“No, I… uh…was just asking, is all,” Zach said, feeling embarrassed.

“Zach, do you know that in this world…in every world, there are strange, sometimes scary beings inhabiting them?”

“No…” Zach said, curious as to what Shanika meant.

“Zach, as I said before, you’ll find out soon enough.”

With those last words, Shanika kissed Zach on the cheek before disappearing as if she was never there. But Zach could hear something in the wind. It was her voice.

“I’ll be back…because you and Mr. Harris are just too much fun! Besides, your birthday is coming up and I still have to get you something.”

Even though Zach couldn’t see it, he was turning bright red. Mr. Harris cleared the crowd, even though some people still stayed around trying to be nosey, mostly the gossipers. Samantha came up to Zach holding a cup of water, only to dump it on his head and leave.

That night, Mr. Harris and Zach walked home together. They talked for a good time about what happened. Of course, who could forget? Mr. Harris explained to Zach’s parents that he was late from school because he had been “getting help with his math.” After they both sat down and had a drink of fruit punch, Zach (who still didn’t understand why Samantha poured the water on him, and also had to figure out what to tell his mom, who wanted to talk to him about the dance that never happened), listened while Mr. Harris explained what had happened and what was in the carpet… it was Bigfoot. It turned out that two teenage boys had somehow found their way into Bigfoot’s territory. Bigfoot immediately started chasing them and the boys escaped, but the still-furious creature had continued his rampage toward the school. Shanika somehow used her magic carpet to capture Bigfoot. How did Shanika know what was going on? According to what she told Mr. Harris, right before they crashed into the lunchroom, she had the ability to talk to Bigfoot. At this point, that didn’t surprise Zach one bit.

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