The Journey (Excerpt)

by Max Kahn, age 12
The Journey (Excerpt) Max is an ambitious writer. Every second he gets an idea for a new story. He writes A LOT.

“Some said all humans used to be big people. And, the big people were not always born with wings and tails. People said that it was bad air. Some called the air: radiation.”

Prologue 1:  The Book

In NYC on April 13th,  2250, a man sat down on a park bench.

He had a book.

It was old.

It was from a museum.

And he had stolen it.

The book was dug up by an ancient book collector. His collection was a museum. The man had stolen from the museum.

The book had a title.

“The Book of Nick the Prophet.”

Inside a pouch, the man felt a crystal. He pulled it out and then the explosion happened.

 

Prologue 2: The End

At every nuclear facility there was an error. All bombs were set off.

Radiation was everywhere.

75% of the world died. Others were mutated.

Shaqueesha-lina had been released.

250 years later…

 

Chapter 1: Lawrence the teller

Ten-year-old Gale Hersh sat down during Teller Day. Every month, the kids of Park Valley had to go learn what they needed to know from Teller Lawrence. It was the most boring day of the whole month.

Gale spent the rest of his days doing his chores or playing around or hanging out at the orphanage. His job was to help the mayor. He served him food did chores and comforted him.

Gale considered himself lucky that he was not born a big person. The big people were born in the form of flying beasts. They had their wings and tails cut off. They were given special therapy that turned them human. Most of the people were normal height. Some said all humans used to be big people. And, the big people were not always born with wings and tails. People said that it was bad air. Some called the air: radiation.

“And,” continued Lawrence, “You should not be curious about the outside. Any fool who does that will die of the dangers.”

Gale stood up. Anger rushed through him.

“My father was not a fool!”

“Y0ur father’s curiosity is what killed him and your mother,” Lawrence said with a harsh stare.

Gale sat back down. When Gale was only two years old, his father fell in the lake. But then, his father learned how to swim. He tried various ways of doing it. Then he decided to show it to Gale’s mother. When they left to go, they never returned. Everyone said they drowned.

Gale lived at the town orphanage. He was not very lonely. He had his best friend, Damon Spikes.

But Gale was haunted by living without parents. He had a huge fear of water. But he never really knew them, so it did not really matter. He had always pictured his father being a very wise and brave man.

And Teller Lawrence was not going to change his opinion.

Chapter 2: The mayor’s guest

Gale sat next to the mayor’s daughter, Anastasia Gutentag, during tea time. Gale had no chores to do around the mansion, so he was able to join the mayor for tea. Technically, this was the reason why Gale had picked the job.

The mayor was one of the big people. People referred to the bigger people as draco magnus. In fact, the name for the people his height was magnitudine exiguus. The mayor’s daughter was also a draco magnus. Anastasia was tall with hair so dark that it made Gale’s blond hair look white.

The mayor burst in. His big belly was right in front of him. Behind him was another draco magnus. He had black curly hair and big bulging muscles. Gale shivered a little at the sight of him. But the look in his eyes was very friendly.

“Anastasia, Gale,” said the mayor in his booming voice. “I would like you to meet Carter Carlston. He was on his own in the woods, living in a hut. Last night, he happened to come upon our town. He will stay with me for now until we find a place for him.”

A sudden question burst into Gale’s mind.

“How big is the park?”

The mayor stared at him for a while, and then added, “Too big for us to know.”

Two and a half centuries ago, the ancestors of the town escaped the cruelty of the world. They fled to the park and settled down.

Gale looked over at Carter. Carter smiled at him. It was hard for Gale to imagine what life would be like without the straightness of the town.

Maybe that life wasn’t so bad. But Gale wasn’t going to be interested anytime soon.

Chapter 3: The Familiar Eyes

Gale hobbled back to the orphanage where he ran into his best friend, Damon Spikes.

“Hey,” Damon said.

Gale suppressed a smile and went to bed with no supper and passed out. He was exhausted from a big day.

*******************************************************

That night Gale dreamed that a man was talking to him. He couldn’t make out the features that well. He seemed familiar.

He was saying one sentence.

“I am coming.”

********************************************************

The next day, Damon shook Gale awake.

“You have to check this out,” he said.

Gale yawned and followed him outside. The whole town was gathered around a man. He had brown hair so bright it was almost blonde. He had a big beard that went to his chest. He had a gray cloak and a big tree branch for a staff. Gale wondered why he had a staff when he did not need one. But his eyes, they were so familiar. But Gale could not remember where he had seen them before.

“SILENCE!!” cried the mayor. Then he turned to the man. “Speak.”

“I am Admiratio,” said the man. “I have come with an offer. I know the way out of the park.”

“Nonsense!” cried the chief of the guard. Right next to him was his 11-year-old daughter, Ashley Jakes.

“But, I have been outside,” Admiratio continued. “And I will take anyone who wants to go with me.”

“You have no right to say that to my people!” shouted the mayor. “I make the laws!”

“Only an idiot would go with you!” shouted Teller Lawrence.

“Then I am an idiot!” shouted Anastasia. She stepped forward. “I would like to come.”

“Me too,” said Carter. He stepped forward. “Anyone else?”

A bunch of people stepped forward. Gale found himself walking towards the man, too.

Part of him thought, What am I doing? but the the other part was ready for an adventure.

Chapter 4: Taking The Leave

Gale sat down in his bed while Damon bragged about going on the trip. Actually, the only people who were staying were the orphans besides Gale and Damon, two families, the chief guard (even though his family was going), the mayor, and Lawrence. Everyone else was coming. Gale was already starting to regret that he wanted to go. But, he wanted to learn more about the Admiratio dude.

He decided to rest on it.

**********************************************

Damon shook him awake at 5:00.

“Dude, they are leaving,” he said in a hushed voice.

Gale thought of turning down. But staying was not an option anymore.

Gale took a pack and stuffed some useless things. He did not have anything to use to sleep on, so he hoped that the ground was soft. He already had a list of what he had packed.

  • Two canteens of water

 

  • A picture of his family

 

  • His dad’s old clothes

It wasn’t much, but Gale thought it was enough for him. He followed Damon to where the group that was leaving was.

He looked over to the big huddle of people. He squeezed in.

Admiratio was standing at the edge of the road. He bonked his cane into the ground five times.

“Attention please!” he shouted. “I know this this has come quickly, but we are going to leave. I cannot guarantee all of your lives. This will be a brutal trip. And once you leave, there is no coming back.”

There was some noise in the crowd and Gale stood on his tiptoes to see the man. He fell down onto one of the girl scouts. They were three sisters, Whitney, Britney, and Mary. They were orphans but stayed with Fisher Joe’s wife. All they did was go around selling cookies. They were kind of wimpy in Gale’s opinion. He doubted that they would last the journey. There was also Fisher Joe’s family, Grocer Tom’s family, Farmer Frank’s family, Baker Bob’s family, Blacksmith Ivan’s family, Butcher Biff’s family, Alistair, who was the brother of the chief of guard and his family, Doc West, Old Man Flounder, Anastasia Gutentag, Carter Carlston, Gale, Damon and Admiratio. Gale looked around for the kids. There was him, Damon, the girl scouts, Grocer Tom’s kids, Hazel and Don Kotouc. Malcolm, Fisher Joe’s nerdy son and his two rhinoceros shaped siblings Butch and Butchina, Joey and Johnny, Alistar’s sons, Ashley Jakes who was with Alistar, Bo, who was Baker Bob’s son and his baby brother, Bobby Perkinson, Butcher Biff’s son, Griff, and Blacksmith Ivan’s little brother, Harry.

In other words, there were a lot of people coming. Gale watched as Admiratio led everyone down the road leaving the town. He followed. This was his last time seeing the place he called home.

Chapter 5: Carter

Gale stayed close to Damon as the huge group marched down the big paved road.

He was being squished by the crowd. He tried to push out, but it was impossible. He had no strength. He was the weak kind of kid.

Someone tapped Gale on the  shoulder. It was Carter.

“Hey,” he said with a gentle smile.

“Um….hey.” Carter was about two times the size of Gale. It was like comparing yourself to a statue.

“So, I realized you and your friend hadn’t brought something to sleep in. I thought I might invite you two into Anastasia and my tent.”

Gale did not know what to say. He wasn’t good with talking. He smiled and gave a thumbs up.

***********************************************************

That night, Gale and Damon huddled in the sleeping bag. It was draco magnus size, so there was plenty of room for the both of them. They played cards in the tent while Carter and Anastasia were deep in chatter.

“Where do you think that weird dude is going to take us?” Damon asked.

“I don’t know,” Gale replied.

“What do you think the outside world is like?” Damon asked again.

“I don’t know,” Gale replied again.

Gale curled up and put his head down on the pillow. Homesickness was barking at his feet. He wished his father was with him.

But I am, a voice replied.

Gale looked around. He must have been seeing things.

Chapter 6: The Butcher’s Fall

The next day, Gale and Damon kept close to Carter. He felt like a big brother to Gale. Anastasia had her arm around Carter. Was it just him, or could Gale see something coming between them?

Gale walked and looked around at the trees. They were walking down the same boring road. Gale hoped that it would end.

After a while they came to two men standing by a path that led off the road. The first man was man made out of clay. Literally made completely out of clay. The next one wore spandex that stretched over his bulky muscles. The words “I am Batman” were written all over his clothes. He was wearing a biker’s helmet. And he had no face. Just a big black pit. They were very mysterious looking.

Admiratio walked right up to them. Everyone gasped as he shook hands with them. He turned around and smiled.

“I know you are all shocked,” he said. “These are my…well…you could call them my colleagues. They would not like to reveal their names just yet.”

He smiled again and then gestured to the side path.

“This is the way out,” he said and then smiled for the third time.

Butcher Biff cut in.

“Now wait a minute. That path does not look very safe.”

Biff had a point. The side path went along a steep ridge. It was made out of sand and had little shrubbery. At the bottom of the ridge there was a cloud of gases.

“The only unsafe part is those gases. They are full of bad chemicals,” Admiratio said, looking annoyed.

“I don’t beeleev nuttin,” Biff said, crossing his arms.

“Then maybe you should test it out,” Admiratio said.

“Shu,” answered Biff. He walked over to the path.

“Be careful of the light sand. It’s slippery,” Admiratio called.

“Wudeva,” he said.

Biff stepped onto the path and started walking. And sure enough, it was safe.

“What is down there?” Biff asked, pointing to the clouds of gases.

“Toxic waste. Remember not to step on the light sand,” Admiratio reminded him.

Biff took a step forward.

“What the hell are you doing!” Admiratio yelled.

“I don’t believe you,” Biff said.

He stepped onto the light sand. He slipped a little. His legs went under him and he went flying into the clouds of gases.

For a long moment everyone stood there in shock. Screams echoed through the woods. Gales stomach flipped. This was the first time he had ever seen someone die.

“We must continue,” Admiratio said.

Gale started down the path, not knowing what was going to lie ahead.

Chapter 7: The Storm

As Gale continued down the path, he felt sicker and sicker. He kept seeing the scared look on the butcher’s face before he died. The others seemed sad, but not as surprised. Gale tried to keep as close to Carter as possible. Damon was somewhere behind them. Gale looked behind at Doc West. The old man was humbling around with his heavy backpack. Griff was running towards them.

He grabbed Doc West’s backpack.

“Out of my way, you stupid old man!” he shouted. He flung the backpack towards the edge.

The pack slipped off Doc West’s shoulders. It rolled down to the gases. Doc West stared at Griff. Griff just pushed past the old man.

Gale stared at the teenager. Griff stared back at Gale.

“What are you looking at. Butthead!” he shouted at Gale. Carter tapped Griff on the shoulder.

Griff looked up. Carter was a foot and a half taller.

“Pick on someone your own size,” Carter said. He pushed Griff ahead. Then he turned to Doc West.

“Are you okay?” he asked the old man.

“I am fine,” Doc West replied. “I am fine with sleeping on the ground.”

Carter started walking faster. Gale ran to keep up with them. They found Admiratio perched atop a cliff. He was staring out at the gases. Gale followed his eyes. Admiratio was staring at a huge cloud of gases forming.

“There’s going to be a storm tonight,” he said. “Everybody should take shelter.”

“How bad is it?” Gale asked.

“Deadly,” Admiratio responded.

***********************************************************************

That night, everyone was frantic. The storm was coming closer and closer. Gale was helping Carter set up the tent. Damon was panicking. Anastasia was sitting on the rocks with Blacksmith Ivan, staring at eachother.

Gale could see Carter looking at Ivan with jealousy. Gale felt bad for Carter, but he knew it was not his business.

Doc West was invited into Carter’s tent because he had no supplies. They ate dinner by the fire. Then Admiratio said that everyone had to be in their tents until the storm was over. Gale took one last look at the outside and then crawled into the tent.

He lay there next to Damon for a while. Waiting and waiting for the storm to come.

Then he realized someone was missing.

“Where is Anastasia?” he asked.

“With the blacksmith,” Carter yawned.

Gale lay back down for a few more minutes.

“Oh, crap,” Doc West said.

“What is it?” Gale asked.

“I forgot to use the bathroom,” he replied.

“Just hold it in,” Carter said.

Gale lay back down for another few minutes. Then Doc West started whining.

“Shut up or I will beat the crap out of you!” shouted a voice from another tent, probably Griff’s.

The wind was battering the tent. Doc West got up.

“Where are you going?” Gale asked.

“I really have to pee,”  Doc West said.

“You can’t go out! Admiratio said you will get hurt!” Gale shouted.

“I am going to get hurt if I have to hold in my pee any longer.”

Doc West left the tent and ran into the storm. Screaming filled the air. Then Gale heard the tent door open and someone come in and scream. Gale covered his ears and went to sleep.

Chapter 8: On Top Of The World

Gale woke up shaking from the night before. He even thought that he was dead for a moment. Then he pushed himself up and got out of his sleeping bag. Damon was still fast asleep. Gale opened the flap and squeezed out of the tent. When he was outside, he gasped. The whole site was covered with sand. Admiratio was perched on a rock.

“What the heck happened?” Gale asked.

“The wind, it turned over the entire mountain,” Admiratio responded. “We must leave now.”

Admiratio started rousing the groups up and telling them to go. Gale walked over to help Carter.

“How is Doc West?” Gale asked.

“I do not know,” Carter responded. “He is badly hurt”

Gale shook Doc West.

“Uhhh,” muttered the old man.

“Are you okay?” Gale asked.

“Leave me,” Doc West moaned.

Gale stared at Carter.

“We have no choice,” he said. “We must ditch the tent.”

Gale roused Damon. The two of the got their belongings and left the tent. Carter followed after them.

Gale felt very guilty about having to leave Doc West. But he knew it was hopeless. He still felt less sickened than the time he saw the butcher die. It confused him.

Everyone crowded around Admiratio. People yelled at him about the sandstorm. The clay man and the no face man were pushing the people away.

“Guys, guys,” Admiratio said. “We must continue. You cannot stop now. I never guaranteed your safety. We must take the secret mountain path.”

“The heck is that?” asked grocer tom.

“I am forbidden to show you the next path coming up, so you guys must be blindfolded.”

The people had no choice.They had to do what admiratio said.

Everyone was split into groups. Gale and Damon were separated.

Gale was put with carter and a bunch of others. Their leader was the no face dude.

“Hey you, blondie,” someone said behind him. It was Fisher Joe’s ten year old son, Malcolm. Malcolm was a nerdy and skinny kid with glasses.

“Yeah?” Gale asked.

“Is that giant dude your brother?”

“Malcolm.” It was Ashley, Alistar’s niece and the chief of guard’s 11 year old daughter. She elbowed malcolm in the side.

The man with no face blindfolded them and tied their waists to a rope.

All of a sudden, Gale felt himself being dragged by a rope. For the next two hours, he found himself being pulled from place to place.

After a while he had his blinds taken off.

He was on top of a mountain. Next to him was Malcolm on his knees. He was staring at the view.

“How high is this mountain?” he asked.

The man without a face didn’t answer.

“Where are we?” Ashley asked.

Admiratio caught up with them. He pointed ahead to the other side of the mountain. The mountain led down to a bunch of forestland.

“That,” he said, “once was downtown Manhattan.”

Carter was gasping at the view. Gale stood with Ashley and Malcolm. This was a view to remember.

The clay man caught up with his group and then Admiratio said they had to get to their site before sunset. Gale continued walking with Carter, Ashley and Malcolm. They walked for hours down a steep path to almost the bottom of the mountain. They finally arrived at a flat space for camp.

That night at the fire, Admiratio said that the next day they would have to split up into sectors of people to cross the bridge. Afterward, they would continue with the groups they were blindfolded with.

For the walk to the bridge, Gale was with  Griff, Baker Bob’s son Bo, and Biff’s wife/Griff’s mom, Nancy. It wasn’t the best group to be stuck with, but Gale knew it would be okay once he got to walk with Carter again.

That night Gale lay down outside next to Carter. He had no idea what was to come the next day.

Chapter 9: The Swing

Gale woke up the next day around 5:00 in the morning. He looked just to see the no face man get his group and have them start walking. Admiratio had already gotten up even earlier to stay at the end of the group.

The leaving group contained Damon, Blacksmith Ivan and his little brother Harry, Fisher Joe and his kids Butch and Butchina, Grocer Tom, his wife, and his two kids Hazel and Don.

After they left, Gale crawled over to the fire and watched it sparkle. People began to go to the fire and and eat breakfast. At 7:00, the clay man got his group and they started walking.

His group contained Carter, Anastasia, Old Man Flounder, Fisher Joe’s wife and Malcolm, the three girl scouts, Baker Bob and his wife, their baby, Alistair, his sons Johnny and Joey, and Ashley.

Gale stayed there for a while. He watched everyone sit there for a while. Then it was 9:00, Gale and his group had to head over towards the bridge.

On the way there, Griff was silent, Nancy was whining and saying that she would die, and Bo was panting. Gale was just walking, waiting for the walk to be over. His group was taking forever.

Gale just stared out while listening to the boring bickering.

“We’ll all die!!!” Nancy shouted.

“Shut up, Mom!” Griff shouted.

“I am tired,” Bo said.

“Shut up, fat kid!” Griff shouted.

“Can you guys quit it?” Gale said in an annoyed tone.

“Shut up, short boy!”

Gale listened to Nancy complain for a while and then just spaced out.

Then he heard a scream.

“Mom, what the F**K!” Griff shouted.

Gale looked to see Nancy flinging herself off the mountain. She screamed as she fell below. Gale was horrified. That was already the third death do far. The thought shivered him.

*************************************************************************

Ashley’s group was lagging behind. They had entered some traffic of boulders. The other group could have caught up with them by now. Hopefully they hadn’t.

Finally, they had reached the bridge. It was just a log standing over one deep chasm. The fall probably meant death. Ashley’s stomach did a dance.

Of course, as usual, Ashley was last. Was it her or did the bridge look loose?

Everyone was waiting as she walked across. She tried to focus on the other side. But then she heard the cracking sound.

**********************************************************

Gale continued with Griff and Bo until they came to a big barren space. They arrived just in time to see Ashley on the cracking bridge, running to the other side.

The bridge collapsed just as ashley reached the other side.

“Ahhh!!! I am not giving up!!!” shouted Griff. He pushed Gale down and started running.

Gale got up and dashed right after him. Bo tried to catch up but fell on his face.

Sweat poured down Gale. He was burning. His whole body throbbed. He was actually running pretty fast. He was almost at the same distance as Griff.

Gale noticed some vines hanging across the cavern. He threw himself to the edge. He was falling. He held his hands out, grabbing for something. He caught a vine. He felt himself swinging towards the other side.

He missed and swung back towards Griff. Griff lunged at him but missed and was sent hurtling to the darkness below. Gale swung back. The vine was then uprooted from the cliff. Gale went flying to the other side and Ashley caught him by his shirt. She was panting heavily.

“That was close,” she said.

Bo yelled from the other side. Butcher Bob and his wife Roberta stared across at their son.

“Oh, no! All those people stuck at the other end,” exclaimed Old Man Flounder.

“I am sorry,” said Admiratio. “But we must continue.”

“I am staying to wait for Bo and the others,” said Roberta.

“Me too,” said Bob stubbornly.

“I will stay and wait until nightfall,” said Old Man Flounder.

“I am telling you, you should come with us,” said Admiratio.

“Shut up!” screamed Bob.

“Fine!” Yelled Admiratio.

The group followed him away.

Gale still was recovering from what had just happened. He went along as Admiratio led the group into a woodsy area.

Gale was then grouped with Carter, Ashley and Malcolm.
Gale did not know what to think of Griff’s death, nor the others.

Chapter 10: The Bees

Everyone continued on in silence. Malcolm kept adjusting his glasses. Ashley was playing with her hair. Carter had his head down in silence.

Gale tried to get a glimpse of damon. He was up ahead with his arm around Harry, Blacksmith Ivan’s little brother. Anastasia was with Blacksmith Ivan.

Gale looked up at Carter. The two of them were both jealous.

After a while, Amiratio told everyone to set up camp.

Gale found a spot to sleep. Carter went over to talk to Anastasia and Damon. Gale wanted to be alone.

He looked over at Ashley with Johnny, Joey and Alistair. He looked over to see the other families with each other playing and laughing.

Gale felt longing to have his own family, to know where he belonged.

He saw Admiratio staring at the families with longing, too. Gale wondered if the man once had a family.

There was a stirring in the bushes. Everyone grew silent.

Old Man Flounder popped out holding Bobby Perkinson. The baby was squirming and crying. Everyone gasped. Admiratio stood up and walked over.

“What happened?” he asked.
“We waited by the cliff for a while. Then Bob and Roberta handed me the baby and started climbing down. They took a while. I just decided to come back and hope they return. I will take care of the baby.”

“We will give them the night,” said Admiratio.

Gale shuddered a little. The journey was getting out of hand. He wanted to go home.

****************************************************************

The next day neither Bob nor Roberta had showed up. Admiratio kept the group moving.

After a while they left the woodsy area and went back to the edge of the mountain. A huge yellow thing buzzed over Old Man Flounder’s head.

“What the hell was that?” he asked.

“That was a bee,” Said Admiratio. “They will not bother you as long as you do not bother them. They are mutated and have poisonous stings. Be careful.”

Gale got nervous. He was bug phobic. He turned to Ashley. She just looked grossed out.

After an hour, Bobby Perkinson (the baby) started getting playful. He started hitting the flowers

Once a bee landed on a flower. Bobby whacked it. Flounder noticed the bee charging at Bobby. He started hitting the bee. Flounder threw the baby to Grocer Tom’s wife.

Flounder screamed. He fell in agony. Grocer Tom leaped at the bee. He got stung in the nipple and fell back. The bee continued to sting Flounder until the old man stopped moving.

Fisher Joe grabbed Grocer Tom.

“Run!!”  yelled Admiratio.

Everyone ran after him and left the dead body of Old Man Flounder. Then they set up camp for the night.

Grocer Tom was crying in pain. Gale noticed Tom’s wife giving the baby to the girl scouts.

Admiratio approached Grocer Tom.

“He is paralyzed,” he said. “He will live but cannot walk.”

Gale shuddered a little. Poor Grocer Tom. But by the end of the trip, Tom was the least of the people to feel bad about.

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