Last year, I started writing a story for the 10-year-old daughter of a friend. I hope you enjoy it. Find previous chapters here.
“This way, children!” Professor Noom cried.
Liam hung back. He kept close enough to keep his classmates in sight, but kept turning around to look to see if Sandy was catching up. He ran back a few paces, looked around the bend. She was nowhere in sight.
“Silly girl.” he muttered. But secretly he was beginning to worry. If she didn’t catch up to the rest of the class, soon, he would have to tell Mr. Vogelsinger.
Sandy backtracked to the windswept habitat of Northern Ireland. This is where she got into trouble in the first place. She sat down wearily on a mossy log to collect her thoughts. She had followed the path to where her class should have been, but they weren’t there. Maybe if she just waited here, another group would come through. She stood, fidgeted, sat back down again. It felt like hours since she’d last seen her class. By now, Liam would be worried. Just then, she saw movement at the edge of her vision. She sat up straight and very still. Yes! There it was again!
Ever so slowly she turned her head toward the movement. There, amidst the branches of a rowan tree —Sandy remembered from the professor’s description— was the tiny winged creature. Slowly she rose to her feet and began inching toward the tree. But once again, when Sandy got too close it flew off. It was as if it were leading her on a chase.
“Not this time,” she said running fast as she could after the fluttering wings. The Visitor’s Center would be just ahead anyway, she could stop and ask for help finding her class. She rounded the bend from the Siberian Forest, expecting the Center to be right in front of her but just like her class, that too, had disappeared. In it’s place was a vast desolate tundra. She stopped short and looked back the way she came. Yep. Siberian Forest. She was in the right place. Now she was scared. None of this was making sense.
“I know I didn’t make any wrong turns,” she said aloud, the winged creature forgotten.
She took a few tentative steps forward, again following the path in the direction the creature had flown. There was a noise. A soft whooshing sound behind her. She spun around. The Siberian forest was gone, and Sandy found herself standing in the fairy forest they had seen when they entered.
“Whoa,” she gasped, her heart racing in her chest.
“Who’s there?” Sandy cried, spinning around again.
“Up here,” a voice called from the canopy of trees above. There was the object of her pursuit sitting on a branch, its wings folded behind it.
“You can talk?” Sandy asked, gaping. “What are you?” Her heart beat still hadn’t settled down.
The creature flew off its perch and slowly floated down to hover in from of her. Now she could get a good look at it. It was iridescent green, with a long slim body like a praying mantis, but with arms and legs like a human being. Its almond shaped eyes were wide-set and intelligent, with long lashes and dark pupils in the center of the light green irises.
“I am Pella,” it said. “And I need your help.”
“Me? Why me?” Sandy asked, looking suspicious. “This is all your fault. Who are you anyway?”
“I told you, I’m Pella.”
“But what are you?” she persisted. “I’ve never seen anything, er… anyone like you before.”
“I … we aren’t really from around here,” Pella said. “I have friends with me. That’s what I need your help with.”
“What do you mean?” Sandy asked, curious now. “Help you with what?”
“My friends are being held prisoner,” Pella explained. “If I can’t rescue them soon, they’ll die.”