Stories, poems, and stuff kids would like.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Böseboy and the Shade, Conclusion

Böseboy about jumped out of his skin when the voice came out of the dark. He took a step back and almost tripped on the stairs.

“Who’s there???” he asked, panicked.

“Can’t you read?”

“Of course I can! I’m in fourth grade!” Well, it was almost true.

“Then you can read my name on the stone in front.”

“Name on what stone…” he thought about it. The only stones around here were tombstones. Oh!

“Just call me Silias. Now where’s the pizza? I haven’t eaten for 130 years.”

Böseboy could just barely make out a shape in the light that was coming from above. It looked like a hunched-over old man.

“You look like a hunched-over old man,” Böseboy said.

“Didn’t your mother teach you manners? You never tell people how they really look. You always tell them they look fabulous.”

“Sorry. You look fabulous.”

“Liar! You wouldn’t look too good after 100 years either.”

“I thought it was 130,” Böseboy said. “Hey, maybe you knew my great-great-grandfather.”

“Shoot, I probably stole money from him,” Silias said.

“Do you want to go out and play?”

“It’s not allowed,” Silias said, grumpily.

“Well that’s a stupid rule! Can’t you sneak out anyway?”

“Only after midnight perhaps.”

“Cool! We can sneak up to peopleses windows and scare ‘em!”

“Do you think you could teach me how to skateboard?”

“Sure,” said Böseboy.

So night after night, he and Silias would sneak out and skate down the cemetery hill. When they wanted to take a break they would sneak up to somebody’s window and and spook ‘em.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Böseboy and the Shade, Part III

Böseboy kept his right hand against the wall as he took the steps one by one. The stone was cool and damp. A bug ran across his hand, making him jump. He didn’t know how far the coin had rolled, so on each new step he stopped and searched, feeling for it in the gloom. Once he thought he saw a glint of light from down below, but it disappeared quickly. The inky blackness deepened with each step, and every so often a slight breeze would brush against him—air as cold as a deep freeze. He considered whether he should go further. Surely he would have won any game with his cousin Jason by now. Jason was the real fraidy-cat, not him. He decided that he would go down one more step, and if there was no coin, he would go back for a flashlight. He took a step.

With his hands he felt the surface of the stone stair step. There was a stick or something, but no coin. Disappointed, he picked up the stick and felt it. It was rounded at both ends like a … bone. Cool, he thought! He turned to go back up the stairs when a slight sound below caught his attention. He couldn’t see, so he stopped and listened as hard as he could. There it was again. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up, and he felt a prickle of sweat return, despite the cold drafts. What would the Witch do, he wondered. She would probably have a spell that would cause light to appear. He tried to remember one, but couldn’t. He scrunched up his face and concentrated.

“Mumble dee bumble, I’ve got a fright,

Crumble dee stumble, make me a light,” he intoned in his best spell-casting voice.

Böseboy opened his eyes. Lo and behold, there was a single ray of light coming out of the ceiling ahead and providing the barest flicker of illumination! He repeated his chant, faster this time. The light got brighter. He could see the outlines of things. He tried again and it got brighter still. He scanned the stairs ahead. There were only two left before he reached the bottom. He looked for the coin. There it was! It had rolled all the way to the last step. He took two steps and reached for it. It felt very cold. The small room at the bottom continued to get lighter, bit by bit. There was a large box shape against the wall. Further left there was a shape that looked like a very…skinny…person. Just then he heard a voice.

“So where’s the pizza?” it said. The voice sounded like dry twigs breaking.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Böseboy and the Shade, Part II

As his eyes adjusted to the gloom within the stone mausoleum, Böseboy noticed how filthy the place was. There were cobwebs everywhere. Not the pretty spiral kind that you sometimes see glistening with dew in the yard, but nasty tangles of silk that gathered black dust in a chaotic mess. Broken bits of stone and wood littered the floor and a small statue had fallen and shattered on the grimy slabs. He felt right at home. If only there were cable TV here, he thought, I could make this my clubhouse. The air stirred and brought a damp wind across his neck. There, where the gloom was the thickest, he thought he could make out stairs leading down, down, into pitch black.

Böseboy remembered a game he had played at a cousin’s house. They turned of the basement lights, and then they took turns walking down the stairs in the dark. They took a piece of chalk along, and when it got too scary to continue, they would write their initials on the floor. Böseboy had gone the furthest and won the game. It’s scary walking in the dark, but he figured he was a master of it. He wondered what was at the bottom of the stairs.

Böseboy walked to the stairs and looked down. Very little light made it into the depths, and he could only make out the first three steps. No telling how far it went. He stepped onto the first and looked as hard as he could, until his eyeballs hurt. It did no good. The dark remained dark. He turned to go back, and then remembered the taunt he had used at his cousin’s house: “fraidy-cat, fraidy-cat, Jason is a fraidy-cat!” Not very original, perhaps, but it had persuaded his timid cousin Jason to go too far into the basement and actually get lost in the dark. Böseboy laughed at the memory. He had made spooky ghost sounds to scare the poor kid even more. That gave him an idea.

“Hello!” he said, “Did someone order a pizza?” There was of course no answer.

“Well that’s too bad,” he continued. “I have a hot delicious TOMBSTONE pizza here!”

He slapped his leg and laughed at his joke. The he remembered he was holding a pizza and tried to catch it before it fell. Then he remembered that the pizza wasn’t real, and looked around to see if anyone had seen.

He didn’t have a pizza, of course, but he did have a good luck charm that his friend the Witch had given him for his birthday. It was a chain that went around his neck with a silver coin. The coin had a small hole to let the chain pass through. When he had asked the Witch where it came from, because the markings were very strange, she said from the River Sticks and wouldn’t say anymore.

Böseboy took the chain off and removed the shiny coin. Then he held it to reflect light into the hole. By leaning just right and tilting the coin just right, he could focus the sun’s rays down into the blackness. He saw a fourth step, a fifth, and …. something that moved? He took a step back and tripped, sitting hard on the stone. At the same time he heard a ‘tink, tink, tink…’ His coin had rolled down the stairs! He would have to go home and get a flashlight to search for it. But what if someone came along and found it? Such a pleasant spot must surely have many visitors, he thought. Better to get it now. He was scared though. Had something down there really moved, or was it just his imagination? He took a step down. Then another. It was cooler and damper. And darker. His heart pounded at the thought of decending further, but in the back of his mind he heard his cousin Jason singing “fraidy-cat, fraidy-cat, Böseboy is a fraidy-cat!” He took a deep breath and slowly descended the stairs.

Twinkle, Twinkle

The Böseboy and the Shade

Part I

It was a lazy Sunday when the Böseboy went for his fateful walk. There was nothing on TV, so he fetched his worn out skateboard from under a pile of junk in his room, grabbed a handful of M&Ms for lunch and headed outside to skate along the uneven sidewalks in the neighborhood. His favorite route was to push the board up the long hill where Farewell Pastures cemetery was, feel the cool breeze on top of the hill, and then coast down with his arms outstretched, pretending he was flying. It was great fun.

The summer air was thick with insects. Fat grasshoppers buzzed by with their funny legs sticking out behind them. It was hot. He wished he had worn his baseball cap, but it was too much trouble to go back for it. Never mind that he would have to dug under his bed for it. He shuddered at the thought. Digging under his bed was too horrible to contemplate, with all the candy bar wrappers, pizza boxes, broken glass, and other refuse that lay there. He thought he’d seen a rat living there last time he peeked. No, it was better not to think about it.

He smiled as he came to the graveyard and started up the steep slope. The hike would be worth it when he got to the top. The old gravestones at the bottom of the hill were leaning and some were broken. This was the oldest part—at least 150 years old. The top of the hill was the expensive part, with little stone buildings called mausoleums holding the remains of the dearly departed. He was always intrigued by their open doors and the mysteries that might lay inside.

It seemed to be getting hotter. The sun bore straight down on his head. He felt like his hair was actually baking, like in the oven. He wished he’d brought some cheese slices to put on top of his head. He was sure they would melt nicely. A drop of sweat rolled off the tip of his nose and he caught it with his tongue. Salty. He dreamed about an ice-cold bottle of water, and searched his pockets in case there was one there by accident. No such luck. That made him a little irritated. How come he never had such luck? He saw other people in the heat who had water bottles. Why couldn’t he have one too? He assumed that they had found them in their pockets by accident, but he never had any good luck himself.

He was most of the way up the hill, and the skateboard seemed to be getting heavier with each step. He looked around for something to sit on. Of course there was no park bench. It figures that if you don’t have enough luck to find a cold bottle of water in your pocket that your also not going to find a bench to sit on.

He tried to sit on the fence bordering the cemetery, but that was uncomfortable. There was, however a small gravestone just inside that seemed to be the right height. He leaned the skateboard against the wall and climbed over. He sat on the warm stone. It was good to sit. The sun was not any dimmer here though, and now that he had stopped moving the air seemed to trap the heat and make it stick to him like, well, melted cheese. He stuck his tongue out like a dog and panted. Then he felt the tiniest breeze imaginable. And it was cool! Could it be that his luck was changing?

He could see that the cool air was coming from the open door of a large mausoleum a few feet away. The shade inside was complete, making the small room pitch-black. It looked nice and cool. A little creepy maybe, but nice and cool. It was too far to walk, though, now that he had sat down. He lay back on the flat tombstone and stared up at the sky. A bee landed on his nose.

Yikes! He jumped up and swatted ‘round and ‘round until the bee found something that smelled better, which frankly wasn’t very hard. The Böseboy looked again at the inviting mausoleum doorway, shrugged, and walked to the entrance.

If he didn’t smell so bad himself, he would have noticed the rotten smell within as he stepped into the cool shade of the little room.

[End of Part 1. What do you think will happen next? Leave a comment if you like.]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Böseboy Brews a Potion

Once upon a time there was a young boy who always did what he was told, always cleaned up his room without being asked, and never did anything mean. This story is not about him. Rather, it’s about a boy we’ll call Böseboy (the first two letters are pronounced like ‘bo’ in ‘book’), which means naughty boy. He never cleaned up his room, especially when asked, and was generally a rotten kid through and through.

There was a kind old lady who knew the Böseboy. She always had a fresh-baked apple pie cooling on her kitchen window, and spent her time knitting socks for the homeless while feeding stale bread to the pigeons in the park. This story is not about her. Rather it’s about a clever old witch that had befriended the Böseboy years ago. Kindred spirits, you might say. She had a long crooked nose with warts on it that she tried to conceal by keeping her wide-brimmed hat tilted down in front of her face. The witch spent most of her time making potions to sell to her many clients. Love potions, hate potions, sleep potions, and a mean barbeque sauce were here specialties, but she made all kinds of others too.

On this particular morning, she had invited the Böseboy over to learn some basic potion-making techniques, since he aspired to be a pharmacist. In fact, the Böseboy had shown some proficiency in the art of grinding powders and boiling cauldrons, and the witch had high hopes for him.

Early in the morning, a raven tapped on the witch’s door with a message. She was being called away to an emergency council of the Witches of Mass Destruction (WMD) to account for some missing yellowcake. She would have to leave before the Böseboy arrived. This could be a disaster, she knew from experience, because the Böseboy could easily trash her house and ruin her potion materials. She pondered what to do. Of course, it would have been easy if she’d just had a cell-phone, and could have called him. But she was an old-fashioned witch and didn’t find much use for such new-fangled inventions.

So it happened that the Böseboy found himself in front of the witches house that evening. The lights were on inside, and he notices muddy footprints leading inside. Everything seemed hazy for a minute or two, but this soon cleared. He stepped inside.

On the bench in the middle of the room, where the witch did her potion-making, was a piece of parchment with the witch’s spidery handwriting on it. He read:

Dear Böseboy,

I have been called away to a meeting. Please do me a favor and follow the recipe below to brew an important potion that I will need on my return.

The Böseboy looked at the recipe in interest. It was rather long, and would require a fair bit of work, he noted. Because he was rather lazy, he decided to take a break before he started. He went to the cupboard where the witch kept the juicy apples found in the forest. On bin was for good ones, the other for poisoned apples, he knew. He took the last two good apples. “Strange,” he thought to himself, “the apple bin is usually full.” Then he noticed several apple cores on the floor. It was unlike the witch to leave such a mess, but not unlike the Böseboy at all. He ate half of each apple and left the rest on the floor. He just wasn’t that hungry.

Finally he turned to the recipe for the witch’s potion.

Get water from the well. Dump the first bucket on the ground and bring back the second to put in the cauldron.

The Böseboy fetched the bucket, which was laying on its side. It was already wet, he noticed. He took it to the well, with was surrounded by mud despite the fact that it hadn’t rained for a week. He did as instructed, dumping the first bucketful of water into the mud at his feet, and then filling the bucket again to take inside.

He took the cauldron off the workbench and put it on the floor. The rug underneath squished under his feet—it was soaked. He poured the water into the cauldron, spilling even more water on the floor. He checked the instructions again.

Build a fire and get the water boiling.

The Böseboy noticed that there were still glowing embers in the fireplace. A good thing, since there wasn’t much kindling left beside the chimney. He threw some branches on and looked at the directions again.

Take three pickled salamander tails and three garlic cloves, grind them, and put them in the pot.

The Böseboy knew right where the salamander tails were. But when he opened the large jar, there were only two and a half left! He supposed that would have to do since he didn’t have time to pickle another one. Into the steaming cauldron they went. Garlic was easier, since the witch had rows and rows of garlic in the kitchen. Someone had made quite a mess, though. There were pieces of the white paper-like garlic shell everywhere. He got what he needed and plopped them into the pot.

As the Böseboy worked through the remaining tasks to make the potion, he noticed that in every case he was using the last of the witch’s supplies. He wondered why, if it was so important, she hadn’t been more careful.

Finally, the Böseboy carefully decanted a pretty green liquid from the black pot into a clear glass bottle. He was about to put the stopper in it when a wonderful smell wafted by his nostrils. He hesitated, and looked at the witch’s handwriting one last time.

Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to sample the potion!

“But surely,” thought the Böseboy, “I can smell it, at least?” He eagerly stuck the open mouth of the bottle under his nose. The aroma was delicious, changing between that of a fine gourmet meal (French), and popcorn, hotdogs sizzling on grill, bubblegum, and café mocha. His tummy rumbled. Without really thinking about it, he stuck his pinky finger in the bottle and then in his mouth. That couldn’t really be called a ‘sample’ anyway, could it? It was just barely half a drop.

Flavor exploded in the Böseboy’s mouth like taste-bomb. His mouth watered for more. Even his eyes watered. “Just one proper taste,” he thought. “Just enough to wet my tongue, and the that stopper goes right in the bottle.”

Well, you can imagine what happened next. He tipped the bottle up to his mouth, oh so carefully, so that just a drop or three would run out. But it came out in a rush instead, filling his mouth with a sweet sensation like a whole candy store had opened inside. He had to sit down, his head was spinning so fast. When he could walk again, he wandered out into the witch’s front yard, where it was getting dark. Ever so slowly, the wonderful tastes faded, and a fog settled over his mind…

So it happened that the Böseboy found himself in front of the witches house that night. The lights were on inside, and he notices muddy footprints leading inside. Everything seemed hazy for a minute or two, but this soon cleared.

So it happened that the Böseboy found himself in front of the witches house that evening. The lights were on inside, and he notices muddy footprints leading inside. Everything seemed hazy for a minute or two, but this soon cleared. He stepped inside just as the witch returned from her long day.

You see, the clever old witch knew that if the Böseboy were left to his own devices, he’d make a REAL mess of her house. So she left the instructions and the ingredients to make about ten potions—that smelled oh, so wonderful, but if you drank one (which the Böseboy was sure to do), would make you forget everything that’s happened for the last couple of hours!

Friday, July 14, 2006

A horse, of course


A picture drawn in Germany.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Happy Star