“Run!” Leon shouted.
He knew that if tried to hold their ground any longer they would wind up dead.“No!” Isaac yelled back.“If we turn back now we will be chased down and killed!”
As Isaac was turned towards Leon, another feather-winged-man attacked him from behind.Isaac heard him and spun around to deftly cleave him in half with his sword, leaving the man’s innards to seep into the soil.Leon winced as he saw the three missing fingers on Isaac’s left hand.“There are just too many!” insisted Leon.
He had been screaming and shouting so much for the past hour that his voice was raw.It hurt to yell back and forth like they were.Leon thought back to what had gotten them into such a mess to start with.
“Leon Fletcher, get down here right now.You’re going to be late!”
Leon’s mom was a petite woman in her late forties.“Who cares?” Leon countered.
He was only just beginning to roll out of bed.He looked at his bedside mirror and saw his dark hair sticking up on the side of his head that he had slept on.Leon’s mom chuckled and said, “I’ll give you five minutes, fifteen if you don’t eat breakfast.”
Leon groaned as he stretched out his back.He was hungry and he wanted breakfast, so he quickly got dressed and attempted to level out his hair.His comb wasn’t getting it down for him, so he locked his hair down under his Dodgers hat.He ran down the stairs into the kitchen and his mom had breakfast waiting for him.He wolfed down his steak and eggs with waffles and patted his overfull stomach.“Bye mom!” Leon shouted as he grabbed his bag and went to the bus.
When Leon got to school he saw his friend Isaac in the parking lot.He and Isaac had known each other since they were five.They were both about the same height until they turned fourteen and Isaac grew nine inches in one year.They were just fifteen and it was only starting to turn into fall when they saw each other on this fateful day.“Hey, let’s go, we’re going to be late” said Isaac.
They made it to their first period class just as the bell rang.
Crash!A booming thunder clap shook the whole building.What? thought Leon.He could have sworn that the sun had been out just a second ago.And sure enough, there was the bright California sky.Only something was wrong.There was a lone jet black cloud hovering in the sky.As Leon observed it he realized that it wasn’t just sitting there.It was growing, and it was growing fast.As it grew, the thunder continued to roll.As the cloud continued to get bigger, thunder started booming more frequently.Each bang was more violent than the last.The cloud was huge now, and it just kept growing.The sounds of some students starting to cry echoed in the classroom.The cloud had long since blotted out the sun and was stretching across the entire horizon blanketing the sky.
What is this? thought Leon.And just as he thought it, a blinding bolt of lightning crashed into the building.The blast encompassed the entire school.Its unbelievable power blinded Leon.He felt the ground underneath him crumble and he felt the sudden sensation of falling.That, coupled with the fact that he could no longer see, nearly incapacitated him with fear.He felt his skin tingling and his muscles starting to twitch uncontrollably.He felt himself hit the ground and was nearly deafened by the sound of the building falling down around him.Even in the midst of this catastrophe, he counted himself lucky that he had landed on top of something, though he did not know what it was.As he began to gain his vision back, he tried to see what his new surroundings were.He saw the sky above which was once again bright blue as if nothing had happened.Then, he saw that the entire building was decimated.He finally thought to look at what had cushioned his fall.“What the…..” he screamed and quickly lost his voice as he looked at the charred face of one of his now-dead classmates.
He looked around and saw that all of the bodies he came across were charred in the same manner.And to add insult to injury, a couple of those bodies had been crushed by debris leaving them as little more that stains of red on the ground.Even the debris around him was burnt and still had smoke rolling off it.
“So why am I ok?” thought Leon out loud regaining his voice.“Isaac!” Leon shouted.
He didn’t know why he hadn’t thought of him before then.He started milling about looking for the body of his best friend.As he was giving up hope that he would even have the opportunity to say goodbye to Isaac, he heard groaning off to his left.He climbed through the rubble to the source of the noise and sure enough, Isaac was there.It seemed as though Isaac had not had Leon’s luck when he fell.Isaac had a gash on his head that was bleeding profusely, and he was out cold.He seemed to be moaning in pain unconsciously.Leon ripped off a piece of his dust covered shirt and wrapped Isaac’s head up immediately because Leon knew that when Isaac woke up he would refuse any kind of treatment.Isaac used to be a pretty easy going kid but when he grew he had decided that he needed to be tougher as well.After he had wrapped him up as best he could, Leon slapped Isaac across the face to wake him up.
“Huh?” Isaac managed to blurt out groggily.“What happened?”
“I don’t know” managed Leon as the reality of the situation hit him.“It’s anyone’s guess.”
Isaac lifted a single brow in question, but as he looked to his left and his right and saw what the storm had left in its wake, his expression shifted from question to pure unbridled disbelief.As Leon tried to think of what to say he saw the silhouette of a man approach them.As the man got closer Leon could see that the man was quite handsome as well as being about six-feet-tall.He had high cheek bones and dark hair that was in stark contrast to the man’s snowy white skin. “Come with me” said the man whose face was obscured in shadow.
Despite the death and destruction around him, Leon laughed.Most kidnappers tell kids that they lost their puppy or that they have free candy thought Leon.But this guy went the whole nine yards.He didn’t just try to give us candy; he killed all of our friends and blew up our school!
But then Leon remembered that this was all real and that there were about a thousand kids who were never going to get the chance to make their dreams a reality.He kept his eyes on the man in shadow.Neither of them had even moved a muscle since the mystery man had made his ominous request.Finally Leon managed to ask, “Who are you.”
The man’s eyes moved to Leon.He had been watching Isaac probably thinking that if they tried to attack, Isaac would be harder to handle.“That, young man, is a dangerous question,” said the man.“Some call me Beelzebub, others know me as Lucifer, but I am most commonly known as the Devil.”
At first, Leon scoffed at the idea that this man cast in shadow could be the devil.But as he thought about it more, horror and panic overwhelmed him.If this is the man who caused this utter destruction, and it must have been someone, than who was he to say who this person is? thought Leon.
“It has been quite some time since I have made my presence known in your world and I am looking to have a little bit of fun.”
“What are you talking about?” said Isaac in his, who-do-you-think-you-are voice.
Satan laughed.“You shouldn’t be doing anything to make my plans for you two any more of a struggle.”
It looked as if Isaac was getting ready to say something back but Leon stared at him and the warning got through to Isaac and he held his tongue.“Very good.” said Lucifer. “Now here is what we are going to do,” the Devil spoke with a faint air of politeness and decorum. “Just outside the school doors, or what used to be the school doors, are a pair of swords.It is recommended that you each have one for what you are going to do.”
“Okay but what exactly is it that we are doing?” Leon asked.
The Dark Prince’s voice lost all of its charm and became painful to hear, like nails on a chalk board, as he said, “I will get to that.And you would do well to avoid causing me any annoyance lest you burn in eternal damnation along with everyone you have ever cared for.”
This time it was Isaac’s turn to shoot Leon a warning glance to watch what he was saying.
The voice of Satan returned to its former charm as he said, “So you will do as follows.I have devised three tasks for you to each do as a pair.Each task will be progressively harder than the last.There will be times when you will think you are going to fail, but if you do that I will follow through on the punishment I previously stated.”Lucifer grinned.“However if you two can successfully overcome the obstacles I set before you, then I will grant you each your freedom and give you back yourlife as it was before my little storm.So, do you accept?”
The cruel one smiled to himself knowing that they had no choice and he was amused by his own little joke.Leon and Isaac looked at each other, and in that moment resolved that they were going to succeed and win back the lives of those they loved.
“Marvelous” chuckled the Devil.“Your first… assignment is to retrieve two eggs from the nest of the mighty dragon Fafnir.When you touch those swords they will take you to Fafnir’s cave.From there you are on your own until you get the eggs.At which point you will be transported back to this location. Go.”
Leon and Isaac each walked over in a daze as they contemplated the existence of dragons, and each of them hoping that they were in a dream and that very soon they would wake up. But they would soon learn they were not in a dream, they were trapped in a nightmare that they had virtually no chance of ever waking up from.
They each grabbed their respective swords took one look at each other and were ripped through time and space to the nest of the mighty Fafnir.
They stood at the foot of Fafnir’s cave.They looked at each other and for the first time became fully aware of how utterly ridiculous they both looked.Isaac was covered completely in dust and the only pop of color was the bloody stain on his dusty makeshift bandage.Leon had long since lost his baseball cap and now had half of his hair sticking straight out of his head, not that he could possibly care. They each tightened their grip on their respective swords, holding them like baseball bats.They had no idea what they were doing
They could only see about a foot into the cave so they weren’t sure how to find the dragon, let alone the eggs.Without any conversation as to what a possible game plan could be, Isaac heaved his sword and smashed it into the stone wall of the cave.It made a huge racket that echoed all throughout the cave and after a few seconds of complete silence there was a roar that shook the earth.A blast of fire soon followed and the pair of teenagers came within inches of the flames as they lithely leaped away from the steady stream of concentrated fiery destruction, and behind a large boulder just outside the mouth of the cave.
Leon noticed that this blast of fire lit up the cave more than enough to see everything inside of it including a dragon the size of two train cars and two silver eggs.They realized that one person would have to distract the dragon and coax a steady stream of fire out of it, while the other ran into the cave to get the eggs.
While distracting the dragon might seem to be the more dangerous of the two tasks, if someone was to get caught in the cave with the dragon it would be certain death.The cave was a nearly perfect semicircle with no cracks or crevices that went in about 50 yards.If someone was caught in the cave with the dragon there would be nowhere to run or hide.As for fighting back, the swords at their disposal would barely be a pin prick to the great bulk of the dragon.They decided that Isaac would be the one to distract the dragon while Leon went in to retrieve the eggs.Isaac didn’t hesitate.He picked up the first rock he saw and chucked it at the dragon.Another deafening roar and then the fight was upon them.The dragon unleashed blast after blast of fire at Isaac but he dodged all of them and when the dragon still heard the echoes of pebbles Isaac threw against the cave wall it began to heft its huge weight and come out of the cave.
This was Leon’s chance.It was important that the second the dragon was out of the cave, Leon got in and out with the eggs as fast as he could.The second that the dragon’s shoulders were out of the cave Leon shot right in. Everything became pitch black.Leon knew that he had to work off of memory to find the eggs.He couldn’t see anything in the cave and was getting frustrated when he looked outside and saw the battle raging.Isaac was getting tired and the dragon was beginning to toy with him like a cat does a mouse.The dragon would knock Isaac over with its claws from time to time, but every time it seemed like it was Isaac’s time the dragon allowed him to stand and run.As the struggle wore on, the dragon seemed to be getting bored and it seemed as though the fight would end.Leon realized he needed to find the eggs fast and that if he didn’t find them his best friend was going to die.His leg hit something and he fell over.He grabbed what it was and realized that he had found the eggs.Excitement overwhelmed him.He lifted the eggs and began to run towards the light. He got outside and grabbed his sword which he had left on the ground and signaled to Isaac to grab his.As Isaac grabbed his sword Fafnir released a final blast of fire which decimated the ground that Isaac had just stood on.
And all of a sudden they were back.Again they were standing on the destroyed school.Again they were surrounded by the bodies of dead classmates.But this time it was different.Their world had taken a turn into the magical and impossible and so something as common as death no longer reached their idea of what is important.But then they came back to themselves and remembered what they were fighting for and again the picture of the storm was sickening and awful to them.
“Congratulations boys.You have my eggs?” said Satan.
“Yeah” Isaac said sheepishly.
He was looking at the ground which was so uncharacteristic of him that Leon’s jaw nearly dropped.Leon handed over the eggs, and Satan took them gleefully as if they were the key to everything in the universe.“Your next task is to steal the sacred pearl of Atlantis.”
“Atlantis…” Leon’s voice was barely audible as he envisioned the mythical under-water kingdom filled with mermaids and mermen.They didn’t need to be told to leave this time and they each grabbed their swords and were again shot into a new world.
They were underwater and dazed and confused.Their gut reactions were that they were, after everything, going to drown.But then they realized they could breath.They saw bright multi colored lights emanating from a trench just a few bus lengths away.As they got nearer to the trench they saw a group of great white sharks and again feared for their lives.But yet again their alarm was unnecessary as the sharks completely ignored them.“So what does the sacred pearl look like anyways?” asked Isaac.
“I have no idea.” answered Leon as he realized that they were going into this with no idea what to do.
They swam down into the trench and saw that the trench opened up at the bottom to reveal a vast underwater cavern that if they hadn’t seen the lights they would have completely missed.And once they entered the city they knew exactly what the sacred pearl was.
The sacred pearl was located in the center of the city and it was about the size of a volley ball.The size would have been impressive enough for the two boys, but they found that what caused the rainbow light was the pearl.The pearl itself was multi colored and gave off a huge amount of light.Surrounding the pearl were three merman guardians who each appeared to be blonde surfers until the waist where there were bright green-blue tails in replacement of legs.
Isaac and Leon had no idea how to conceal the pearl.So they decided that the only thing that they could do is fight their way past the guardians of the pearl to retrieve it and then to grab their swords and the pearl and hope for the best. That is just what they did.
Isaac and Leon hit from opposite sides and caught the guards by surprise.Isaac took a huge swing of his sword and decapitated one of the guardians.The two remaining guardians converged on Isaac and pulled out the clubs strapped to their waists.They hadn’t seen Leon.He snuck up behind and thrust his sword through the ribcage of the fish-man nearest to Leon.The other guardian smacked Isaac’s sword out of his hand and quickly turned around to face Leon.Isaac grabbed the guardian around the waist and then it was Leon’s turn to perform a decapitation.They held on tight to both the pearl and their swords and got back to school once more.
“Very good.” said the Devil.“You both have successfully finished your preliminary tests.That task is to fight against heavens army.”
Leon and Isaac were terrified.They had no idea who or what the army was made up of.If the army was human would they be able to kill another human? And if the army was of angels, could they even kill a single one if they tried?“Why can’t you do that yourself?” asked Isaac.
His question would have come across as disrespectful if he hadn’t been so obviously in awe of the Devil.The Devil smiled at his admirer, “If I were to go to close to one of those unnaturally holy beings, I would die.”
Leon watched as Isaac’s eyes widened in disbelief that the Devil could die.Leon realized that something about the Devil had enthralled Isaac and he knew that they needed to talk about that.
“And now here I am” thought Leon.They had never gotten a chance to have that talk.As it turned out, angels didn’t like company.Their wings didn’t allow them to fly, but they did allow them to glide and redirect themselves when they were falling.The angels had converged on them immediately.Leon and Isaac had been using a hit-and-run tactic for the past hour.But now they needed to run away and regroup.Each of them had suffered injuries and they needed to rest.Isaac’s pinky, ring, and middle fingers on his left hand had been lost to a savage final attack of a dying angel.In addition, his head wound had started bleeding profusely.As for Leon, he had taken a knife through his knee as well as a multitude of bruises from one particularly hard-to-kill angel. The entire army was on their heels and if they stayed where they were they would be completely overwhelmed.But of course Isaac was right too.The angels were more than quick enough to overtake two injured boys.The entire army was upon them now.They had no choice now but to fight.They looked around and saw that there was a crack in a cliff face about 100 feet away. Leon and Isaac fought the angels as they came but they slowly worked their way to the cliff face.Leon’s leg sent a wave of pain to his brain with every step.They eventually made it there and thy stood inside the crevice so that only one angel could fight them at a time. They felt the adrenaline pumping in their veins but it seemed like the wave of angels was endless.As the bodies of dead angels piled up in front of them they continually stepped on top of them to get high ground on the remaining angels. They fought for three hours like this. It seemed that for every angel slain two more took its place.But they persevered.
Only two angels were left.The two friends saw that the angels were not going to approach them while they had the high ground on top of the dead bodies.The boys descended from their mountain and stood across from the angels.Isaac made the first move.He threw his sword at one of the angels.The stupidity of his action caught the angel by surprise so much that it almost worked, but the angel sidestepped the blade and bull rushed Isaac.Isaac let out a savage war cry and tackled the weaponless angel.They hit the ground with a thud but once they were on the ground the fight was practically over.Without the use of his left hand Isaac used his teeth quite effectively.He tore the angel’s throat out with his mouth and let out a cry far more savage than his first.Meanwhile Leon and the second angel were attempting to kill each other with their bare hands.The angel had immediately disarmed Leon but Leon was fighting with a reckless abandon that made up for his injuries.The opponents were circling each other when Isaac lifted his sword with his good hand.He had a crazed look in his eye that would have shown anyone looking how far gone he was.He snuck up behind the angel and swung his blade through the angel’s legs.He then proceeded to chop off the angel’s hands, for arms, and upper arms respectively.Leon watched in absolute horror as his friend slowly sank his blade through the angel’s heart.
Isaac took the angel’s head off and lifted it above his head as a trophy.Leon noticed a necklace with a cross covered in blood next to the severed neck of the angel and put it into his pocket as a souvenir. And back to school they went.
When they got back to the school it was like being in a tornado of sirens.The school was still completely destroyed but now the bodies of students and teachers were being carried out by medics.Ambulances, fire trucks, and police cruisers surrounded the building and they could hear detectives only 10 feet away talking about what could have caused this devastation.Leon felt something hit him in the back of the head and he turned around to see that it was Isaac and that the Devil was right there.“Why can’t they see us?” asked Leon.
“We are invisible to them.” said the Devil.“They can’t see us or hear us or see us.”
“Wow.” said Isaac.
“We did what you asked of us.” said Leon.“You said that you would make things how they were.”
“Ha!You fool!Did you actually believe that I could reverse the flow of time?”
“But you said…” Leon couldn’t believe it.In the meantime Isaac was just waiting for Lucifer to give him more commands.Leon was done. He had gone through hell to save the lives of all of the kids in his school.And now someone was going to tell him that all off the hopes and dreams that were inside that building were just gone?No.
Leon swung his sword with every ounce of energy he had.“Nooo!!!” shouted Isaac.
Isaac leaped in front of the blade and the blade sank into his chest with a thud.Leon was mortified.“You tried to kill me!” shrieked the Devil with a fury that could be rivaled only by Leon.
Leon’s eyes darted around.He saw that in addition to all of the emergency vehicles was a crowd of sobbing parents, and among them he saw his mother!The Devil did as well, and an evil grin grew across his face.A ring of fire sprouted up around them and quickly spread.It engulfed everything including the parents, who for the most part ran, aside from the ones to sad to move.In the group of people who didn’t move was Leon’s mom.Leon was so angry that he couldn’t even move.Any fear that he had possessed for the devil had been replaced by sheer anger.Without thought he reached into his pocket and put the cross against the Devils face.The devil was caught completely off guard and Leon watched as Lucifer slowly dissolved into dust.The Devil was dead.So was his mother.So was his best friend.So was all of the hope that had been in that school.So were all of the parents whom had given that hope a home.Leon lifted the sword that was in his friend’s chest.He put the tip off the sword to his heart. He slipped the blade in between his ribs.As he fell to the ground and floated out of consciousness he thought about what life was like before the Devils little storm.
Age 13, Grade 8
NYC Lab MS for Collaborative Studies