“Fog Bank is special. My kind of special.”
It is Fire Season in Fog Bank, Scotland, and all that is green turns to ebony. Nothing is the same, and it never will be. The tree outside my ivory window will soon be burned, and the targets that I use to shoot my arrows will be gone. All that work: burned. The fireplace in my room is filled with a scowling fire. Bigger than the moon and stronger than the sun. I try to tell myself that everything will be all right, but it never works. There is always something burning, burning the hearts of the people of Fog Bank.
Fire Season in Ireland is nothing like the Fire Season in Fog Bank. Fire Season in Paris is nothing like Fire Season in Fog Bank. Fire Season anywhere else in Scotland is nothing like Fire Season in Fog Bank. Fog Bank is special. My kind of special.
I would kindly like to introduce myself. My name is Matilda Heindman, President of the HCC (the Horse Caregiver Club). In my club, we take care of the horses of Fog Bank. Should I say “we”? No. I need to say “I.” You see, I have no other members of the HCC club. I do all the work. Although, I do get all the money from the customers who need me to take care of their horses. #BONUS. I love horses. They seem to relieve me from all the pain of Fire Season.
(Next Morning, 5:45 a.m.)
I grab my cloak. I grab my combat boots. I grab my knife. I race out of my bedroom and run down four flights of stairs. I go into the stable and grab the first horse I see. My breath is as cold as the night. My skin is turning blue, but I don’t care. I ride this beast deep into the surrounding forest. The branches are starting to cut into my skin. It burns, but doesn’t. The crisp wind is making my cuts shed blood. I begin to faint. I fall off the horse. I can’t see the light of day anymore.
“Miss? Are you okay?”
All I can see is a dark figure. All I can feel is my back aching. I must have fallen hard.
“No, I seem to have fallen off this horse,” I say.
“Miss. I believe I should take you to the doctor. Or have the doctor come to you,” the man says.
As my vision clears, I see someone who I have never seen before. Someone magical. He looks like the Sandman, but that can’t be true. I look at him closely, but this time I saw fire, ice, earth, and water. Mother Nature? Father Nature? Weird. Plain weird.
“Forget about a doctor. Please take me back home this instant!” I yell.
“Okay, Miss. I will take you home before you explode!” the man says.
Suddenly, I am asleep and when I wake up, I am in my room. I look in the mirror at myself and all my cuts have disappeared. The “mystery man” is magical!
“Okay, Matilda. Don’t freak out. I know that all of your cuts magically disappeared suddenly. All you have to do is breathe and get a good night’s sleep,” I say to myself.
I am out for a long time. I believe I have been lying on the ground for about 15 hours. It is exactly 8:02. My sister’s bedtime. I don’t care. I have had a rough day of sleeping — I guess. I will ride my horse this time to the same part of the forest. I need to find the magical man –maybe he can save fog bank from Fire Season. Or maybe he can save myself from my own inner Fire Season.
“Hello, Zeppelin. How are you? I missed you. Come on. I have another mission to take you on!” I say, cheerfully.
Zeppelin stares at me. He knows that I am never up this early. He knows me and I know him. We are a team. He was my very first horse that I got. I raised him when I was three years old with my Papa. He taught me how to walk with his strong muzzle.
I mount Zeppelin and ride him into the ebony forest. When we get to the spot, I notice the Man. He is meditating.
“Hello, Man. I want to know who you are, and what you did to my cuts,” I say, with demand in my tone.
“Sit, child,” the man says.
“I am not a child. I am 13,” I growl.
“Okay, 13,” the man says.
“My name is Matilda,” I say, very annoyed.
“Okay, Matilda. Why were you out of your house so early?” the man says.
“I was searching for the Emmet Crest. If you place it on a certain stone, it can cure any kind of Fire Season,” I say.
“I understand. You are in search of the relief of the inner and outer pain of Fire Season.” The man knows.
I break out into tears. The man hugs me. I feel a warm sensation of comfort and peace within me.
The man is short and stubby with a big beer belly. His hair is made out of gold dust. His eyes are as copper as a penny and sparkle like a shooting star. He is wearing a cloak with one side representing winter, spring, summer, and fall. I need to know who he is!
“Man, who are you?” I say.
“Why, I am Father Nature. You can also call me Bubba,” Bubba says.
“Well, Bubba. Were you summoned here to save Fog Bank from Fire Season? This is a big task… can you work that much magic?”
“Your questions will be answered in time,” says Bubba, with a wink. “You need to return home now.”
“By the way, thank you for bringing some serenity into my life,” I say.
“I will meet you tomorrow right here and I will take you to the happiest place on Earth: Huckleberry Farm,” Bubba says.
“Okay, bye!” I say, as I ride away on Zeppelin, back to my home.
(Next Day: 12:30 p.m.)
Today is the day that my best friend Amanda Hart comes into town. Today is the day that we will have a lemonade stand and end up drinking all the lemonade. Today is the day that we will race around the block calling out our lemonade cheer. I am so excited. It feels like I can’t even breathe. I know that I have to go to Huckleberry Farm, but I will do that later. No big deal!
“Amanda! Omg! I haven’t seen you in forever! How is your social life going?” I say, cheerfully.
“Life is going amazing! Tomorrow I am going to the lake and people say that there are a bunch of water slides!” Amanda says.
“Did you bring your horse, Apple?” I ask.
“Yes I did, but I changed her name to Rose. Gwyneth Paltrow stole the name Apple for her daughter. Ugh!” Amanda laughs.
“Talk about it!” I say.
Amanda and I start walking over to my house where we eat blueberry pie and drink lemonade. We dance in the peaceful meadows and ride our horses into the lake. We splash in the dancing waters, and end up laughing ourselves to sleep. It is the very best day of my life.
“I will see you next year, Miss Matilda,” Amanda says.
“Wait, why are you leaving so early? It is 7:30 a.m.” I say, with a look of puzzlement on my face.
“I just have to go. I will write you, okay?” Amanda says.
“Why? Tell me why Amanda! What is your problem?” I say, acting angry.
“Just leave me alone. Now. And by the way, here is your friendship bracelet,” Amanda yells, as she storms away with thunder in her eyes.
Here we go again. Another fire. Burning my heart and Amanda’s. I am so mad. I am so mad! I shall run my horse deep into the forest. I don’t need Amanda… wait. I don’t need a best friend.
After I get to “the spot,” I look around. No sign of Father Nature, or as I guess he likes to be called, Bubba. No sign at all. All of a sudden, he appears.
“Hello, 13. You didn’t come yesterday,” Bubba says.
“Very funny, Bubba. What do you mean, I didn’t come?” I say.
“Remember? Huckleberry Farm?” Bubba asks.
“Oh my gosh! I am so sorry. I didn’t mean to. I was so caught up with Amanda that I didn’t think about our meeting. I am so sorry. Please forgive me,” I say, with a sad look in my eyes.
“Amanda wasn’t your doing. She was mine,” confesses Bubba. “I put a spell on her so she would not make the mistake of convincing you to move where she lives. You need to save Fog Bank from Fire Season…. fast. The Emmet’s Crest doesn’t have a lot of magic left. If you don’t find it soon, you will never save Fog Bank or its inner souls from Fire Season.”
I say goodbye to Father Nature, and mount Zeppelin as quickly as possible. I ride my horse into the wild forest and begin my journey to find the Crest. Today is not the day to mess around with friends. Today is the day to save my town.
You see, I heard that the Emmet’s Crest is not that far away from my town.
“Wow, what’s this?” I say, as I come across a shimmering tree.
I look inside and I see a miniature chair with silver lining and a really tiny book. I open up the book and see words written in cursive black ink. Who wrote this?! Thankfully, I notice a wooden magnifying glass. I read the tiny manuscript and it says that the Emmet’s Crest awaits right here…. IN THIS CHAIR. “I don’t see any Emmet’s Crest,” I say aloud. I keep reading. It still says that it lies IN THIS CHAIR. “I think this book is wrong. It is getting late. I will just camp out in this tree. Maybe, I will find more clues to where the Emmet’s Crest really is.”
(The Next Morning)
I start to wake up to the sounds of crackling and the feeling of warmth. I smell something burning. My eyes start to open to a city of orange.
“Fire!!!” I yell with all my might.
I run and jump out of the tree and try to untangle Zeppelin from the branch. We are surrounded by a fire. I jump on his back and tell him to go full speed ahead, straight into the fire. If we can’t go around it, then we have to go through it. Zeppelin races up the hill and into an old barn. We both breathe hard with panic.
“It’s okay, boy. It’s okay. We will have to head towards the ocean and bring water back to shore. We will use the buckets in this old barn,” I tell him in a comforting tone.
I ride him out to shore and take the buckets. After we fill them all with salt water, I ride him back out to the roaring fire. Then, we design a catapult to launch the buckets of water into the fire.
“Watch out Zeppelin! 3, 2, 1!” I say, as I launched the cold crisp water into this evil spirit.
The townspeople watch with horror painted on their faces. One girl and a horse with no armor are jumping into fire, launching 200-pound buckets of water. They are risking their own lives, in place of the town risking theirs. But the Emmet’s Crest is still out there.
Even though the fire is out, the real fire out there is still burning the inner souls of Fog Bank.