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SYMU Chapters 1 & 2
The days after Halloween are always the most depressing- the soggy elastic multi-colored spider webs plastered across stoops, waiting to be torn down and thrown away, only to replace them the next year. The jack-o-lanterns sitting beside the doors or on the outside steps rotting away and becoming sickeningly deformed. Not to mention the paper skeletons, witches, ghosts, or ghouls hanging outside the windows, being blown so hard by the wind they’re torn limb from limb.
These days are especially dreary if you’ve been grounded through them and through Halloween itself. Why, you ask, would this wonderfully pleasant girl, your narrator, be grounded over an especially joyous holiday loved by children all over America? Well, let’s just say there’s this little thing I like to call the unfair advantages of parenting without a court, judge, or lawyer defending the side of the “groundee”, as I like to call myself, or the unfortunate child who is stuck at home leaving only to go to school, and not even eligible for computer, T.V., Nintendo Wii, Nintendo D.S. Light, Gameboy, and let’s just say all of my video games.
In other words, my parents grounded me for no apparent reason at all. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. I did crash my worst enemy’s Halloween party, thinking she was a werewolf. And I guess I did place a curse on my parents making them do everything I asked that didn’t harm anyone or involve anyone else. And- true- I did think that- oh, well I guess I’ll just let you find out yourself.
It all started a few months before Halloween, when I actually discovered my powers. I was looting through my mom’s dresser and desk drawers (don’t think I’m crazy, I have an explanation) trying to find my cell phone she hid since I was grounded. But, instead of finding my stolen cell, I found something wrapped in scarlet tissue paper about the size and shape of a twig, but thicker and without little branches sticking out on every side. I picked it up and examined it, turning it over. Attached to the back was a little envelope that had already been opened. I flipped the top back open and removed the piece of paper inside. As I unfolded it, I grew more and more suspicious, seeing my name and a few words that certainly were not in Webster’s English dictionary. And also, it was dated a year ago. Whatever it was, my mom apparently did not want to think about it.
So I read it. All the way through. My eyes grew wider and wider every sentence, every word. It said:
Dear Parent/Guardian of Kayla Michele Peterson,
Your child has been found by the D.Y.M.U. (Discoverers of Young Magic Users) and we would like to recruit her to our camp. You are eligible to sign your child up for camp for summer or all year round. The camp is called Crystal Lake, camp for magically gifted children (or MGC) ages twelve to seventeen.
If you are interested in signing for our programs, please notify us using the contact below. This offer ends in exactly two years from the day received, and we hope to hear much from you and your child soon.
Kayla has an amazing gift. Don’t let it go to waste.
Zelda O. Fletcher
Zelda O. Fletcher
Head of Crystal Lake Camp
I was shocked. Flabbergasted. First, how and why did my mom hide this from me? What in the world does “MGC” mean? What special gift do I have? What’s in the wrapping that came with the card?
Well what was I supposed to do? Just forget about it and re-hide it in my mom’s drawer so that it will be forgotten forever and whatever offer they were advertising expires? No. So I started unwrapping the stick-shaped object.
I tore at the red tissue paper and slowly uncovered… a stick. What? All this for a stick? I picked the stick up in my right hand and suddenly felt a searing pain in my palm. I wanted to yell, but the agony was so harsh I couldn’t speak. The stick clattered to the floor and I fell to my knees.
Gripping my right wrist in my left hand, I stared bewildered at the spot that felt as though it had been run through with a knife (not that I know what that feels like). On my palm, as if painted with henna, was a counter-clockwise swirl. I hesitantly prodded at it, but it didn’t start stinging any more than it had been before I poked it. Slowly, I reached down and picked the stick up in my right hand then quickly grabbed it back with my left. For some reason, my left hand didn’t have the same searing pain that my right one did.
“Kayla? Come down here please!” I heard my mom’s voice call from downstairs. I got to my feet, raced across the hall to my room, tucked the stick carefully under my pillow, and ran downstairs.
But she didn’t even need to answer. Right before she did, I realized that Zoe was on the couch in the living room, sobbing.
“What day is it? The 8th?” I asked.
My mom looked at me quizzically. You’d think that after all these years he would’ve realized it. “Yes….”
I walked over to Zoe and put my arm around her, trying to soothe her with, “it’s okay,” and, “I’m here; don’t worry.”
You see, despite what you might think, Zoe isn’t my sister. Or my cousin. Or anything related to me. She’s my best friend and has been for a long time- maybe even 8 years. And ever since her parents abandoned her 6 years ago when we were 8, she’s been living with my family. Every August 8th (today), November 24th, May 9th, and June 20th, she gets kind of hysterical. But I guess it’s for a good reason. August 8th is her mom’s birthday, November 24th her dad’s, May 9th is Mother’s Day, and June 20th is Father’s Day. I don’t understand how she can remember all these dates after her parents are long gone, since I can never remember my parent’s birthdays myself and Mother’s Day and Father’s Day I also always forget until I hear people at school saying, “oh, guess what I got my dad for Father’s Day,” and, “ooooh! I wish I got that for my mom! Hallmark was all out of Mother’s Day stuff!” And then I usually just get a stupid store-bought card at the 99 cents store down the block. But Zoe- she always remembers. And she’s my new “string-on-my-finger” for recalling Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. I just wake up, see if she’s crying, and BAM! I know what day it is.
So I started rubbing her back, kind of rocking her back and forth the way mothers hush their babies, when she glanced up at me, her intense but beautiful hazel eyes burning up into my plain blue ones.
“Thanks Kayla,” she sniffed, “You’re awesome.”
I knew that wasn’t true, but I wasn’t gonna burst her bubble (or mine) so I just smiled a her and continued to comfort her, stroking her perfect, short chestnut brown hair that reached up to her chin.
Everything about Zoe is beautiful. If she wasn’t sobbing 25% of the time, she could be a model. She is also terrific in school and an amazing fencer, not to mention her super nice attitude. Long story short, all the boys are madly in love with her. I’ve got to admit I’m a little jealous- okay maybe a lot- but that doesn’t kill our friendship. Nothing can and nothing ever will. I am sure of that.
“So…” what Zoe said next was either caused because she didn’t want to talk about the reason for her crying or because she was actually curious. “What were you doing upstairs?”
“I, well, uh…” I wasn’t prepared for this. “I was….”
“That’s okay. It doesn’t matter.”
“But will you tell me during a fencing lesson? Today is a-” -sniffle- “-Sunday, after all.”
“Yeah,” I answered, “Sure. Just one sec. Let me get ready.”
I ran upstairs and back into my room, grabbed my fencing bag, got the stick out from under my pillow, and slipped it inside the bag. I sneaked a peek at my right palm, but the swirl had vanished. I didn’t really take it into consideration as I tore downstairs to leave for a lesson with Zoe.
We finally reached the park after a 15-minute-long stroll searching for a blue squirrel (don’t ask. Zoe has this weird fascination with mis-colored animals- if ‘mis-colored’ is a word). At a clearing in the park we set down our bags and started to stretch. Zoe explained to me the correct way to touch your toes so that you don’t strain your back, a way to stretch your fingers out so that they’re not tight and stiff (which I vow to never try again) and what to do when you see a neon green Palomino horse.
Eventually, after Zoe gave me advice on making sure that I don’t end up with a bright green hoof-print in my face if I ever do come upon a neon Palomino, we started the lesson. I got my saber out of my bag and Zoe got hers. Why didn’t we wait for an instructor? Well, as I said before, Zoe is like a master fencer. She doesn’t need an instructor. But I do. So she’s stuck with me as a student, not that that’s a bad thing. But… I think it probably is- in Zoe’s case.
“Engarde!” Zoe shouted, pointing her saber at me.
And then we fenced. Zoe side-stepped toward me, right hand outstretched, holding her saber. I blocked her first swipe, then she poked me in the chest when my arm was stuck out.
“Ha!” Zoe laughed, backing up to her starting place so that we could start a new round.
I smirked at her. And to think, just a half hour before, this peppy, excitable girl was crying her eyes out on my couch over her mother! And now, she was upbeat, giggling, and creaming me in fencing.
“Engarde!” I cried, advancing on Zoe the way she had advanced on me.
“Good,” she congratulated me, getting ready to block any attack I tried on her. “Just try to be a little looser while side-stepping… good. Yah!”
Zoe dodged my swipe by diving to the side, then slashed at my stomach. If we were using real swords, I would have been dead a long time ago, killed by Zoe mauling me.
“No fair!” I shrieked as Zoe backed off triumphantly once again. “You’ve had so much more practice than me!”
Zoe grinned. “Is that an offer for a second lesson each week?”
“Well…” I looked up at her. “How is it a lesson if all you’re doing is attacking me with your saber? Where’s the teaching part?”
“Engarde!” Zoe laughed, ignoring me. I shrugged and got ready to block when something huge came at me from behind, pinning me to the ground.
“Kayla!” Zoe screamed, rushing over to me.
I blinked and looked up into the face of whatever had tackled me. I gasped when I saw the fuzzy black muzzle of a grizzly bear. My heart pounded so hard it almost broke through my ribcage and fell onto the grass below me. The bear growled, its foul breath hitting me smack in the face. I gagged and yelled for Zoe. Where was she? The bear was about to eat me alive!
“Zoe!” I screeched, “where are you?!?!”
“I- I’m- Kayla…” Came her voice from behind the bear. “I- I’ll get help!”
“Zoe! Help me! The bear will kill me before anyone can come in time!”
But Zoe had already run off.
I guess the bear didn’t like me calling for help because its head shot down and its jaws opened, revealing sharp yellow fangs and the stench of its breath streaming up my nostrils. I coughed and cried and screamed but no help came. The bear’s head just continued to come down towards my neck, teeth bared. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, the bear’s jaws came to a close on my… shirt?
Yep. The bear was lifting me off the ground with his mouth. I struggled, but the bear kept pulling me up and then swung, landing me on his back. The bear gave me just enough time to grab onto his thick fur before he took off across the clearing of the park and into the more woodland part, filled with only trees, bushes, and us, tearing over rocks and roots and anything else that was on the ground, dead or alive.