This is the middle of a story I started a couple years ago, a magical adventure.
|I don't know how to begin or end this story. I like this part better than the beginning I wrote, but some of it feels too cheesy and forced. Help!
As they ran through the gardens toward the school, Claire conjured a carriage that they were suddenly riding in pulled by the unicorn.
“We need to get there and get that book fast.” Claire reminded Johnny.
Johnny gulped and nodded, “Do you think they will let us take the book?”
“We have no choice, but they know us so I don’t think it will be a problem, and my Dad’s worked with them for years.”
“Let’s hope,” grimaced Johnny.
“Silvight, let us off at the steps leading up to the school.” Claire told the unicorn.
Soon the carriage and unicorn vanished and Claire and Johnny were running again. This time up the stairs.
“I don’t see them any more,” Johnny commented as he closed the door with a click behind them.
“Come on, Johnny, don’t you know in a race you never look back. This way,” Claire scolded. “Come on!”
With one last look out the doors Johnny turned and followed Claire down the hallway of lockers. They had slowed now to a fast, purposeful walk to not draw any extra attention. “Its so dark and quiet here.”
“That’s because school doesn’t start back up for a couple more day’s yet,” Claire knowingly replied.
“So how are we supposed to expect them to give us a book that will be difficult to find when school is not in session and when they don’t loan books out over the summer?”
“Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. How did I manage to bring you along on this adventure when you never did anything beyond video games and bicycle riding before? Hm? I’m good.” Claire was showing her confidence that Johnny always admired, but was a little afraid of too.
“Let’s hope you’re that good, and fast.”
“So little faith. Here it is. Oh, the old library. I never thought I’d come back here on an adventure like the ones from the books that I borrowed. Oh, good! The librarians are here. Sweet! Let me lead.” They took a deep breath and Claire and Johnny calmly pushed through the doors into the library. The footstools were stacked on the chairs, and pushed aside. The tables had their chairs on them. Everything smelled of old books and clean windows. They could look out the library windows and almost see the entrance they ran in and the street out front, so far, no sign of their followers. The unicorn had given them some extra time.
There were two ladies working in the library. The tall slender one was at a half finished bulletin board stapling the laminated, stenciled letters and book covers onto the black fabric covered board. The short chubby one was at the counter straightening the piles of papers, computer stuff, and other library paraphernalia. Claire looked both ladies over and remembered fondly of her days spent there exploring the stacks for the next book to devour before all this started. She remembered seeing the exact volume she and Johnny were looking for, passing it by several times for newer, more interesting looking books. She remembered reading the books where the main characters all had a terminal illness and died so very young. Ugh, why she ever wasted her time with those she can’t remember. Claire remembered the research there, the meetings held there. Oh, if only things could just be that simple again. Not that middle school was ever really simple, just not complicated like now, unicorn, magic, being chased, at least Johnny was with her. Her best friend, family, and grounder, Johnny could be counted on the keep Claire in the human world. To keep her acting like a normal kid whenever she could.
“Well, Claire Crown, my heavens how much you’ve grown!” The plump librarian, Mrs. Bay coming around the counter to give her a hug, shook Claire from her thoughts. “It doesn’t take too long for a pretty little thing like you to grow up now does it, Claire Bear. It’s been years!”
“Hello, Mrs. Bay,” said Claire returning the hug. “It’s only been three months, really.”
“Well, Claire Bear, you’ve just grown so much…are you sure its only been three months?”
“Yes,” said Claire laughing. “You remember Johnny Appleby, right Mrs. Bay?”
“Why of course I do! Johnny Appleseed! You two are still attached at the hip, I see.”
Johnny blushed at the nickname.
“Sue, Sue Student, get away from that board and come look at these two!” Mrs. Bay called to the tall librarian. Mrs. Student turned and walked toward them with a scowl. “Now, Mary Beth, I was right in the middle of… Why, my Harry Potter! It’s Claire and Johnny.” She finished with a grin.
“Hello, Mrs. Student,” Claire and Johnny said together.
“How is your father, dear? Such a handsome man, we were so sad when he left our school.” Mrs. Student asked. She was always so interested in Claire’s dad; they never understood it.
“He’s doing well,” Claire lied. She glanced at the clock; they were losing too much time. “Um…”
“So, Claire Beat, what brings you back here, before school starts back up even?” Mrs. Bay inquired. “Not after more of those death books are you? I don’t really like them myself, too morbid.”
“Besides, we’re not checking books out right now, especially not to non-students,” finished Mrs. Student.
“Oh, I know, Mrs. Student. You have to have everything ready for when school starts. There was a book that I really wanted to see, but I can’t get it anywhere! I think I remember seeing it here once and I was hoping I could just look it over for a little bit. I was telling Johnny about it and he thought it might be helpful for something he’s doing for a project. I think I know where it is and we will put it right back. I promise.” Claire explained all this hoping the half-truths would work.
“I don’t know…” Mrs. Students, always the rule enforcer was not convinced.
“Oh, Sue, don’t be such a prude. It’s one book, they’ll put it back, and you know they know this library. Claire Bear’s dad will like it if you’re nice.” Mrs. Bay always was the softy. Claire figured she’d be the one to talk to and win over. Mrs. Student, even though she has a soft spot for her dad, was just too rigid.
“Thanks Mrs. Bay! Come on, Johnny.” Claire grabbed Johnny and ran to where she remembered the book being before the ladies had a chance to discuss it more and change their minds.
Claire and Johnny trotted off to the far corner of the library. It was really dark and dusty back here so middle schoolers rarely came to this corner. Really old, never read books were here. Claire remembered wandering back here starting last winter and every time she was in the library until the end of the school year. The first time she had felt a pull as if something was calling her to this corner. When she got back here she saw all the books that looked so old. The book that pulled her looked as if it had a fur cover it was so covered in gray-brown dust. It had one of those attached ribbon bookmarks. She didn’t really want to touch the book, but couldn’t help herself. She touched the burgundy ribbon. When her finger brushed against the soft silk ribbon she remembered felling a spark stronger than static and seeing a green flash. She had immediately drawn her hand back and reached for a colorful, not as old book nearby that she never actually read. She didn’t want to touch that book again. Claire remembered how different she felt that day on the way home. She sensed that she would never be the same and a few days later the dreams and magic started. She was never going to be cool, normal Claire.
Claire and Johnny passed the last bookshelf before the dark corner where the book was and stopped suddenly. They saw instead of dust and shadows, clean shelves with brightly bound books waiting cheerfully for someone to take them home and share in their wisdom.
“Where is it? What happened to the book, Johnny?” Claire stammered, her heart hammered at the changes she saw. “We need that book.”
“I don’t know, Claire, maybe they just did some dusting and reorganizing. Let’s take a look before we panic.”
Claire stepped up to the shelf. “There are no ribbons. It had a purpley-red ribbon. It’s not here. Let’s go. I didn’t want to actually ask for it, but I guess we’ll have to. We are running out of time.”
They turned and headed back to the front.
“Find what you were looking for, my dears?” Mrs. Bay asked.
“Not really,” Johnny said getting a glare from Claire for taking charge. “Claire told me that the book was really old with a purply-red…”
“…. Burgundy ribbon. She said there was so much dust on it she couldn’t even read the title. All the books back there are new.”
Mrs. Student chimed in, “all those books we sorted through and if they hadn’t been checked out in over 20 years we set them aside to either ebay or toss.” Claire and Johnny looked at each other, where was the book?! Surely they didn’t sell it.
“The boxes are right there,” Mrs. Bay said pointing at the tables by the windows. Several cardboard boxes sat there with ebay or toss boldly written on the sides. ”If you find the one you want, you can have it. I remember there was one that looked like it hadn’t been touched in over 50 years. It was so dusty I took it back here to see if I could clean it up a little before I sorted it. It had a burgundy ribbon.” Mrs. Bay was always so helpful. She went back into her office to get it.
She came back with a dusty, worn book. “Here it is, The Secrets of the…well, I can’t make out the rest of the title.”
“That’s it!” Claire screamed, not containing her excitement, and grabbing the book out of Mrs. Bay’s hands. She felt the spark. Mrs. Bay’s eyes widened with surprise and she was struck, for once, speechless.
“Well, Claire, we have to figure out what it is and price it before we can let you take it…” Mrs. Student bossed.
“Claire…” Johnny was looking out the doors into the hallway. Three large shadows blocked the view. “Claire, they’re here. We have to go. Now! And not that way.”
Claire looked and grabbed Johnny’s hand. “Sorry ladies, we have to run. Thanks for the book. I’ll tell Dad you said ‘Hi’!” Claire pulled Johnny toward the windows as the librarians stared open mouthed after them.
“Wait! Claire! The windows!” Johnny screamed.
“They’re fluid, Johnny,” said Claire. And with a wave of her hand and a leap at the windows Claire and Johnny were on the outside soaking wet. They took about ten more steps and were once again in the carriage pulled by Silvight flying down the street away from the school. They glanced back and saw the 3 shadows gazing through the protective library windows looking for them.
“Fluid. Really, Claire? Fluid!” Johnny looked disdainfully at Claire. “We are on the run with a stolen book, and NOW we are soaking wet! Couldn’t you have said ‘they’ll more’ or they are a mirage’? Seriously.
Claire glanced at Johnny, still clutching the now soggy book that smelled musty. She looked back at the book in her arms. The fluid windows washed most of the dust off. She took the edge of her t-shirt to wipe off the rest of the years and found a beautiful rich brown leather embossed cover with gold lettering and a silk burgundy ribbon. The gold lettered title, which read The Secrets of the Years, was surrounded with all kinds of flora and fauna of past, present, and legends. She heard a roar of anger from the now distant school and prayed those monsters wouldn’t harm the ladies and their immaculate library. “Johnny, those things back there hate water. The fluid windows will slow them down. So between that and Silvight whisking us away, we will be able to get some time to think and breathe. Now, before you whine anymore here’s some fresh clothes.” With a snap of her fingers she and Johnny were both wearing mostly dry, fresh clothes.
“Ugh, Claire! You forgot my underwear. Now it looks like I pee’d my pants!”
“Underwear, I don’t do, and I don’t even want to know, boxers or briefs. You’ll have to live with it. They’ll dry.”
“OK, fine… So what now? We have the book. Where do we go? How do we get rid of the bad guys for good? How do we get Uncle Dean back?” Johnny shot at her trying, once again to get her back on task.
“Sorry to interrupt, but might I make some suggestions?” a melodious voice spoke throughout the carriage.
“Of course Silvight, please. You know more about all of this than we could dream about right now. What suggestions do you have?” Johnny quickly responded. He had to get some answers and Claire was sometimes hard to focus.
“Well, first, I recommend that we begin flying. We may be way faster than those goons, but we are still leaving a scent trail. We can give ourselves a lot more time to think if we can lose them. Then we can carefully answer the other questions. Claire, could you lend a hand please, and Johnny if you could keep an eye out for a good place.” Silvight made a really logical point. They needed more time.
“Of course, Silvight.” Claire was pulled from her obsession with the book by the unicorn. Silvight has been helping Claire with all of this beginning in her dreams after she touched the ribbon. The least she could do was her duty and help them fly to safety. She thought of the big cumulus cloud a little ahead of them. It looked like a mountain range and in the middle of a mountain range is always a lush valley. They could rest and regroup there. Their scent would be gone and the shadows would no longer be able to track the book in the cloud mountains. “Silvight, let’s head for that cloud grouping in a round about way and land in the middle.” Claire grabbed onto the silvery strands of Silvight’s tail that flowed into the carriage and Johnny put a hand on Claire’s shoulder. The carriage was gone and now all three were flying through the air in a reflective bubble that Claire created so no one could see them. They flew around two other cloud formations before landing in the middle of the cloud mountains.
Johnny opened his eyes when he felt his feet hit solid ground. “I thought we were going to land on a clou…” He finally looked around and saw white billowy peaks like giant marshmallow clumps towering over them. They were standing next to a clear stream on lush, fluffy, green grass. There was a clump of Chestnut trees near by, perfect for shade, and 3 large cloud rocks grouped to form 2 chairs and a table so they could sit with the book on the table. “Wow. I did not expect a cloud to look like this! Are they all like this?”
Silvight leaned over and refreshed himself with a drink from the stream. “Let’s take a few moments to refresh ourselves and catch out breaths before we conquer the matter at hand.” His melodious voice soothed Johnny’s tired mind.
“Good idea,” Johnny replied still gaping at the valley.
“No. Bad idea,” Claire bossed. “My dad is out there, monsters are chasing us, we stole a book; I want to be done with this. Let’s keep moving. Where do we go next?”
“Claire,” Silvight snapped. “Do you do a hard speed workout the day before a big race? No, right? You have a rest day, run a few easy miles just to keep awake. Then you are fresh for the race and ready to run your fastest. We will not take a whole day, but we need to rest to fight this battle. We need to regroup. We need to energize and plan. That is the only way we can win.” Even Silvight’s scolding sounded like music.
“Fine,” Claire pouted and went and plopped herself down by the stream. She bent her knees, pulling her feet close to her butt, hugging her legs, and rested her chin on top of her knees.
“The stream has healing and nourishing powers,” Silvight called, “better drink up.” Then he could be seen rolling in the thick grasses in the warm sun.
Johnny took a sip of the clear cool stream. “Umm, Claire, this is belicious, you’ve got to try it. I am feeling MUCH better already. I don’t feel quite so grumpy toward you.” Johnny used Claire’s 3-year-old pronunciation of delicious to try to get a smile out of her and as his way of letting her know she doesn’t always know everything. Then, getting only glares from Claire, he stretched out in the thick grasses near the chestnut trees and closed his eyes for a moment.
Claire was restless. She just wanted to move on and get her dad back. Deep down she knew Silvight and Johnny were right. She needed to calm down, refresh, and clear her head a little. She took a look at the book on the cloud table then got up and walked to the stream. As she got closer and heard Johnny snore she realized how thirsty and tired she really was. “OH how I wish I had my big Nalgene bottle with me right now,” she thought. She reached into the water and took a sip of water from her cupped hand. She tasted the cool, minty water on her tongue and felt it cool her mouth and down her throat all the way to her stomach. The water did taste good and was very refreshing. She continued to drink some water, and began feeling herself relax and refresh. Her eyelids started to feel unbearably heavy. “Maybe a short nap would feel nice,” she pondered to herself. She laid down with her head in the shade of the trees and the rest of her in the warm sunlight, and almost immediately dozed off.
Claire began to dream. She had the book and Johnny, Silvight, and her dad were all with her. She was presenting the book to someone but she didn’t know who. The look of pride on everyone’s faces for Claire quickly turned to horror as everything darkened. “Claire it’s time,” Silvight said turning to her. Claire tried to say OK, but couldn’t make a sound even though she moved her mouth. She could see herself opening the book. This is what she thought Silvight wanted her to do. The letters on the page were shifting. Something didn’t feel right. This page was all wrong. She needed to know who she was presenting the book to. What was it time for, Silvight? All she could feel was wrong. This was all wrong. She wanted to run.
“Claire, it’s time,” Silvight said again looking at her. “Wake up, we have to get moving. We have to decide what to do next.”
Suddenly Claire realized she was just dreaming. She slowly struggled to open her eyes. Silvight was standing over her and casting his shadow over her.
“Oh,” Claire groaned. “I should not have taken that nap. Ugh, cotton mouth, weird dreams. I’m glad you woke me up, Silvight. I don’t understand this dream, everything felt…wrong. How much time do we have?”
“Enough,” Silvight replied cryptically giving Claire a quizzical look. “Johnny is already awake and collecting food for us. But the clouds are shifting so we can’t dawdle. Here comes Johnny now. Take a drink and then tell us your dream. Maybe we can figure it out.”
“Silvight, you were in my dream, didn’t you see what was going on, like all the others?” Claire remembered back to when Silvight began appearing in her dreams. He wasn’t a dream then, but a dream helper.
“I was not in this dream, Claire. It must have been something else.” Silvight’s horn glowed with worry, and Johnny silently frowned while he passed out the fruit he collected.
Claire began describing her dream as best as she could remember. The water from the stream and the fruit helped to clear her mind so she could clearly describe everything she heard and saw. Silvight and Johnny listened intently making sure to catch every detail.
“Wow, creepy,” Johnny gasped when Claire had finished. “No wonder you’re confused. To think you are doing the right thing and then find out that everything we’ve been doing is wrong, including Silvight…wow.”
“Gee, thanks Johnny, you’re a great help,” Claire retorted. “Silvight, I don’t think you’re wrong. I just feel mixed up from this dream. It’s like the kind of dreams I used to have before you popped into them, all weird with no point.”
Silvight looked steadily and thoughtfully at Claire. “Claire, dreams have many purposes. They clean out the clutter in our brains. They tell us bedtime stories. They show us our dreams or goals. They prophesize, and they tell us what we won’t listen to from our intuition. I think this dream is from your intuition. It is telling you to trust no one but yourself, think before you act, and to be careful. Listen to this dream, file it away, and ALWAYS re-evaluate what you are going to do and why, before you do it. Especially with this situation your actions will have significant consequences. You’ve got to have the right purpose.”
“You sound like my dad,” Claire whispered.
“Yeah, when he’s giving you the sex talk,” Johnny laughed.
“Shut up, Johnny!” Claire glared at him and felt the tears stinging and sizzling her eyes and cheeks. What she wouldn’t give right now to have her dad give her one of those dreadful “talks.” She had to bring her family back together.
Silvight leaned down and nuzzled Claire. “We’ll get him back. Now we need to decide our next move. Trust yourself Claire, but keep control.”
Claire closed her eyes briefly then opened them to look around. The cloud mountains had changed shape a little and the stream didn’t follow the exact same path. The book still lay on the cloud table. She walked over to it followed by Johnny and Silvight.
“So where do we start? I know I’m supposed to protect this book, to keep it from the Shadows…”
“Keep it from the Shadows! Uncle Dean kept it in the shadows for how long before they found you guys?” Johnny interrupted.
“Yeah, and they wouldn’t have found us if I hadn’t touched the ribbon of that book. It’s all my fault that we are sitting here in a cloud with a unicorn and a stolen book. Mom’s probably sick with worry and you KNOW she’s sitting with YOUR mom both of them freaking out. It’s my fault that we are looking for Dad. It’s my fault that these shadows even remember the book. Now, stop it, you’re not helping.” Claire paused, thinking.
“Now, we know they found Dad by me finding the book. They want the book and we think they took Dad so I could bring it to them because they can’t actually touch the book. That’s why they had forgotten the book until I touched it. We know this book is called The Secrets of the Years, but do we really know why this book is so important? Why can’t they touch this book and why do they want it so bad? Dad never got to answer those questions before he left.”