MG FANTASY: THE LEGEND LEAGUE Feb 3, 2017 9:36:29 GMT -5
Post by storyologist on Feb 3, 2017 9:36:29 GMT -5
Books make lousy shoes.
But Jack had outgrown his boots, and the stones on the beach were sharp. So he tied Treasure Island to his right foot and The Three Musketeers to his left.
Then he stole a screwdriver and clomped to the beach.
Jack dropped to the sand, rocks jabbing his knees. Seagulls screeched and swooped overhead. A school of mullet jumped close to shore.
He blew hair from his eyes. “I can do this.”
The airship was on the horizon, chewing through clouds like a silver shark. Excitement and hope swirled in Jack’s chest. The ship would be here in a few minutes. He had to get these
stupid gloves off before it arrived.
You’re going to fail, said a slithery voice inside his brain.
Doubt gnawed Jack’s stomach. He shook his head. “Go away.” He jammed the screwdriver under the brass band that locked the metal glove on his left hand. If Elsbeth caught him,
she’d toss him into the Crab Closet. Jack’s hand trembled. He steadied it. Elsbeth was still sleeping and Jack planned to be gone before she woke.
He pried at the lock. “Break!” It didn’t budge. The gloves, made of tight copper mesh, gave Jack the flexibility to hold the screwdriver, but were too strong to break. His fingernails
pressed painfully against the metal.
I have to get the gloves off or I’ll forget my parents … again, Jack thought, his throat tight.
You’ll fail, whispered the voice.
Jack ignored it and squinted at the airship silhouetted against the rising sun. He’d never been able to see the ship so clearly before. It had just been a hazy metal blob. But today, the
thick fog that always blanketed the island had vanished, revealing a crisp blue sky. When the fog cleared, Jack’s memories had struggled to the surface. Before this morning, he hadn’t
known they were missing. He’d bolted up in bed, images pouring into his mind—his mother’s dark eyes, his father’s laugh. It was still murky, but Jack knew
one thing for sure; his parents were alive. A shiver of joy raced up his spine. He thought they were dead. That’s what Elsbeth said.
“But she lied. They’re alive!” He wanted to shout it to the sea, but couldn’t risk waking Elsbeth. “Alive,” he whispered, savoring the word. And Jack could remember them! Well, bits
and pieces, anyway—his mother’s smell, oranges and spiced tea. The way his father’s eyes crinkled up in the corners. What else? It was still fuzzy. He rubbed his forehead. “Where were
they? Why did they leave me here?”
Maybe they didn’t want you, the voice said. Did you think of that?
“No.” Jack tried to push the thought away. He slid a photo from the leather pouch on his belt, ignoring the pinch of the metal gloves. It was a picture of a man, a woman, and a boy of
about five or six. A small, brass key was attached to the back with yellowing tape.
“Mom and Dad,” he whispered. Jack had suspected it was his parents in the photo when he’d found it months ago. Now he was sure. He recognized his mother, her black top hat
perched above her beautiful face, and his father’s laugh lines and mustache that curled at the tips. They were gazing at the boy in the photo with such tenderness it made Jack’s heart
“That’s me,” he whispered. He had the same messy black hair, overlapping front teeth, and hazel eyes. Jack’s gaze lingered on the gloves he wore in the photo. They were leather, not
metal, like the ones he wore now.
So your parents made you wear gloves too? Why is that, do you think?
Something dark squirmed in Jack. He squeezed his eyes shut and sifted through his small pile of memories: his father’s deep laugh, the smell of popcorn and sawdust, the sound of his
mother’s voice saying, We love you, Sweetheart.
Jack ran a gloved finger over their faces. “They loved me. Love me.”
Then why did they leave you behind?
Jack gritted his teeth. “Be quiet.”
The thrum of the airship’s engine turned into a dragon’s roar. It would be overhead in minutes. Stop wasting time, he told himself. I have to get the gloves off and get on that ship.
Because one memory was as sharp and clear as the morning sky; if he didn’t escape this island before sunset, the fog would return, and he’d forget his parents again for another seven
Quickly, Jack slid the photo in his pouch and went back to work on the lock. When the airship crew lowered the supply bag, Jack planned to climb up the chain and into the ship. He’d
tried it six months ago, but the chain was oiled and he couldn’t get a good grip with the metal gloves. He’d dangled like a caught fish before sliding off and landing hard on the rocky
beach. Jack couldn’t let that happen again. Then, he’d just been trying to escape Elsbeth’s cruelty … and endless tap dance routines. This time, he had to find his parents.
He worked the screwdriver back and forth under the locking mechanism.
You know what will happen if you take them off, don’t you? whispered the voice.
Jack scowled. “I’ll blow up like a puffer fisher until I pop.” That’s what Elsbeth told him. Sometimes her stories included itchy rashes, boils, and pus. Elsbeth loved pus.
“The puffer fish thing is a lie.” Jack took a deep breath. “At least I hope so.”
He pressed on the screwdriver’s handle. Snap! “I did it! I broke … the screwdriver? Arrrg!” He tossed the handle aside, scooped up a rock and smashed it against the lock.
“Ouch!” Pain radiated up his arm. The lock held.
Jack saw a movement from the corner of his eye. A small silver fish flopped in the sand, just beyond the waves. It was one of the silly mullets that had been jumping too close to
shore. He glanced up at the supply ship. It would be here any minute. Leave it! Jack told himself. The fish flapped its tail, gills straining for breath. Jack tried to ignore it as he worked on
the gloves, but he knew he was just like that fish, trapped and suffocating on this island. He couldn’t let it die. Tossing down the screwdriver, he ran to the shoreline, scooped up the
mullet and released it into the water. Then he looked out at the horizon. “I’m going to find you Mom and Dad.”
I doubt that.
Jack looked up. The airship was nearly overhead. Sweat dripped down his back. He ran to the screwdriver and jammed the broken end under the brass band,ing his teeth. Then he
heard a voice drifting over the moss-covered hill.
“A is for Annie, who an alligator ate.
B is for Benny, who got chopped up into bait…”
The sweat on Jack’s back turned to ice water. Elsbeth was awake, and now she’d ruin everything.