So, which one of my stories is best so far? (you know, if you actually bothered reading them)

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

Hello, few people who actually read my stories! I'm back with yet another one, woo hoo! If you haven't read my other stories, (only two of them are good, don't mind the old ones) just look in my posts - THE NEWCOMER and MISSING SOMEONE (REBOOTED). Anyway, let's get started!

 

Chapter 1

Tiana Frazier

 

A book is what changed our lives.

 

          Well, technically the map inside the book, not the book itself. Although that would be cool. Anyway, this is the story of how mine, my little brother, and my best friend’s lives were changed forever.

 

          This story begins with Evan and me browsing in the library. Evan wasn’t as big of a reader as I was (he was more into music) but still loved a good book, and always came with me to the library or bookstore.

 

          Evan was tall and Asian, with neatly combed black hair, and dark brown eyes. He normally kept to himself, with his Beats headphones on (sometimes it seemed like he was addicted to them) and doodling buildings in his sketchbook (he was a talented artist and had dreams of becoming an architect).

 

          Anyway, we walked into the library on this particular rainy Tuesday in October after school. This was my favorite library in Lancaster, Massachusetts because it was nice and cozy, with a fireplace roaring on one wall. Evan plopped himself down at his usual spot in front of the fireplace, his headphones on his head, doodling. I put my backpack down next to Evan and went to look for some books to check out. I browsed the bookshelves, took out my favorite book, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and went over to sit with Evan.

 

          We were there for a little while, and I was going to start picking my stuff up, but something fell out of the book and onto the floor.

 

          “What the heck?” I leaned down to pick it up, thinking that maybe the last person who checked this book out didn’t take care of it, and this was a page. But it wasn’t.

 

          It was a neatly folded paper. I unfolded it, and saw what it was. It was a map of some sort. It was brown and crumpled and pretty much looked like your usual treasure map, with a big red X. The Ivory Isle was scrawled in fancy writing at the top of the page. There was a drawing of an island and labels to describe what certain things were on this island. The Gray Caverns, The Amazon Bog, Vresk Forest, The Uele Volcano, Paramount Peaks, Piranha Lagoon, and finally The Lost Treasure were all on the island. In the water surrounding The Ivory Isle was Shark Infested Waters, Boulder Beach, and Rocky Docks.

 

          “What is that, Tiana?” I looked up to see Evan pointing at the map in my hand.

 

          I handed him the paper and he looked it over, “Are you sure this is authentic? I mean, it would be really cool if it was, but how do you know someone didn’t just draw this and stick it in the book?”

 

          He had a point, but still. Something felt…authentic about this map.

 

          I took it from his hands and put it in my backpack, “C’mon, Evan, we can check it out more at my apartment.”

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Lucy

 

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Branch: Ekaterina

Chapter 2

Evan Liao

 

“Evan!” Tiana’s seven-year-old brother, Caleb came running out to greet me. He wrapped his arms around my waist and hugged me tightly. Caleb had always taken a liking to me, and I had taken a liking to the little guy – after all, I was there the day he was born

 

          Tiana was thin and beautiful with her dark skin, her bright, green eyes, and her tightly curled frizzy dark brown hair. Caleb was short and chubby, with tightly curled black hair, and dark brown eyes, and frankly, really adorable. Mrs. Frazier – Kira – was thin, and looked a lot like Tiana, except she didn’t have the tightly curled brown hair. Her hair was black and wavier than curly and always kept in a half up/half down style. Mr. Frazier – Steve – was tall and muscular and had short, dark brown hair and dark brown eyes. The Frazier’s were a family I could feel safe in. They were almost like a second family to me.

 

          Mrs. Frazier came into the room, “Hello Evan,” she greeted me with a smile.

 

          I waved, still within Caleb’s grasp, “Hi, Mrs. Frazier.”

 

          She looked down at Caleb and chuckled, “Caleb, let go of Evan, he and Tiana need to go do homework.”

 

          He let go and went to hug Tiana. She ruffled his curls and hugged him. I really loved the way she interacted with kids. When we started the eighth grade, one of our assignments was to go over to the elementary school and help the kindergarteners for a week. We were only supposed to get one each, but by the end of the week, Tiana had five kindergarteners with her.

 

          We went into her room and she set her stuff down on her bed and I put mine in a corner on the floor. I took note of her bedroom. She had put in new bookshelves.

 

Tiana had loved reading for as long as I could remember. In kindergarten, she was the first to be reading chapter books. By the time we started middle school, she was already at a twelfth-grade reading level. She didn’t really pay attention to those reading levels though. She just read what she loved. When she was really into a book, it was best not to bother her though. She was usually really sweet but if you interrupted her reading of something she loved, she would turn into the Incredible Hulk.

 

She also had an incredible memory and could remember almost everything she read. Sometimes she would hit me with things like In book 2, chapter 24, pages 272 and 273, they did this.

 

I used to think reading was really boring because I only read what they gave us in school. I never insulted Tiana’s reading though. It was one of the things I liked about her. Anyway, once she introduced me to the sci-fi genre, I was all into it. I loved reading about robots and human experiments and alternate universes and aliens. One of my favorite books was a murder mystery in space with aliens helping. Cool, right?

 

She was me staring at the new bookshelves, lined with books, and along the edge, Christmas lights were strung up.

 

She smiled, “Do you like them?”

 

I nodded, “Yeah. They look really cool.”

 

She sat down on her bed, put her ear buds in and pushed play on her audio book. Then she took out her homework and started. I sat down at the desk, put my headphones on, and pushed play on my music. The first song that came on was I’m Still Standing by Elton John. It was my favorite song and was always at the top of my Most Played playlist.

 

This was always how it was when we would do homework. Sometimes we were at my family’s apartment, and sometimes we were here. But we always had headphones in, Tiana listening to some audio book, and me listening to music.

 

After a little while, in the middle of Mountain Sound by Of Monsters and Men, I looked over to see Tiana not doing homework anymore. She was looking over that map she found at the library.

 

I took my headphones off and sighed, “Tiana, I told you, it’s fake.”

 

She shook her head, “I don’t think it is. It has an authentic feel to it.”

 

I took the map again and this time, I really inspected it. She was right. It had a certain feel to it. Authenticity.

 

“Okay,” I began. “If it is real, so what? It’s not like we could hop on a boat and be like: haha, I’m going to go look for buried treasure, see you later, Mom.

 

A smile started to spread across Tiana’s face.

 

“Oh, no. I know that smile,” I said. “Tiana, we are thirteen years old, we barely earned the freedom to go to from school to the library, to home by ourselves. Do you really think our parents will let us go to this island that’s who knows where?”

 

She sighed, “Fine. I’ll drop it.”

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Lucy

 

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

So, no one has posted...it's fine...anyway, I'm not going to stop because well, one day, in the future someone might stumble upon this thread and they'll be grateful whoever wrote this completed it, so. So yeah, if you see this, give me some feedback (gosh, I'm so needy...)

 

Chapter 3

Tiana Frazier

 

I wasn’t going to drop it.

 

          I know I could come up with a plan to get us over there safely and back. And Evan would be totally on board with me once he saw my finished plan.

 

          I walked him to his apartment which was just one floor above ours. He opened the door and the smell of whatever Mrs. Liao (Kiandra) was cooking hit me. She was an amazing cook, and when I would stay over at the Liao’s to do homework, she would always let me stay for dinner.

 

          I saw Granny Miyako sitting on the recliner, watching TV. Mr. Liao (James) left them when Evan was just a baby. So his grandmother moved in with them to help Mrs. Liao raise Evan.

 

          Mrs. Liao stepped out from the kitchen and waved at me, “Hey, Tiana. Were you going to stay for dinner?”

 

          I smiled and shook my head, “No. I was just dropping Evan off.”

 

          Evan gave me a side hug and walked into his apartment, “See you tomorrow, Tiana.” Before he closed the door, he looked back at me, “Don’t do anything crazy, okay?”

 

          “Of course,” I lied. “Nothing you wouldn’t do.”

 

          He smiled and shut the door.

 

          I ran over to my apartment to grab my backpack. I was just out the door with my backpack slung over my shoulder, when Caleb stopped me. “Where are you going?” He probed.

 

          “To the library.” I wasn’t lying. I was going to the library. I just didn’t want him to know what I was going to do there.

 

          “Can I go with you?” He asked.

 

          “Tiana,” my mother’s voice called. “Take Caleb with you, please?”

 

          I sighed, “Fine. C’mon.”

 

          I took his hand as we walked to the library. I looked down at him. If Caleb knew how cute he was, he would’ve been dangerous. He looked even cuter in his dinosaur jacket.

 

We walked for a little while, and then we passed in front of the candy store, The Sweeter the Better. Caleb’s eyes lit up and he pointed to the store while looking up at me with puppy-dog eyes. Okay, I knew I wasn’t supposed to give him candy before dinner, but…

 

I sighed, “Fine, but only one thing!”

 

The man at the counter wasn’t Mr. Grisan (who was a kind looking old man who loved Caleb and me). Instead, there was a young teenager (maybe fifteen or sixteen) with dark hair and blue eyes. He was reading a book and didn’t seem to have much interest in whoever was coming in and out.

 

Caleb went up to the counter. “Who are you?” He asked. “Where is Mr. Grisan?”

 

The teenager looked up and I got a good look at his name tag: Calvin. “He went to visit his son.”

 

“What’s going on with his son?” Caleb asked.

 

Calvin looked up again, “He’s having a baby.” He looked back down at his book again. This time, I got a good look at the book: Insignia by S.J. Kincaid.

 

“He is?” I piped up.

 

Calvin looked at me with a look that made me feel like worm guts. I understood, though. If I’m in the middle of a really good book, and someone interrupts me, I normally give them a worm guts look.

 

I led Caleb to look for a piece of candy and he picked out one of those swirly rainbow lollipops that every little kid is obsessed with. I got a cherry cola from the cooler towards the back. We went back to the counter and Calvin gave an exasperated sigh but took the stuff anyway.

 

I picked up a card from the rack on the counter. It said: Congratulations and had a drawing of a baby in a carriage on the front of it.

 

“This too,” I said, handing Calvin the card.

 

He rang it up and asked, “Do you want to write something in it?”

 

I nodded and he handed me a pen. I wrote: Congratulations on this new addition to your family! I hope everything goes well. – Tiana Frazier.

 

“Ooh! Can I write something too?” Caleb asked, reaching for the pen.

 

I handed the pen and the card to him and he wrote: Congratulations! – Caleb F.

 

Calvin put it in the envelope and said, “$5.57.”

 

I handed him the money and we left the candy shop, Caleb licking away at his lollipop. I put my soda in my backpack to drink at dinner.

 

Eventually, we made it to the library. I dropped Caleb off at the children’s section for story time, and I rushed over to the research section. I wanted to look for any books on The Ivory Isle.

 

I started in the I section. Ice Age, Iguanas, Independence Day, Ireland, Islands.  I pulled out the Islands book and sat down at a table to flip through it.

 

I remembered something a character in a book did when they had to read a long, difficult book. They went to the table of contents first. So that’s what I did. I studied the table of contents until I came across the one I was looking for: The Ivory Isle pg. 342. I flipped to page 342 and saw a black and white picture of the isle. I began to read and discovered that the island is pretty much undiscovered. That the only people who had ever been there were a pair of husband and wife explorers and had never come back.

 

That sent a shiver down my spine. They never came back? If we went, would we ever come back? It seemed unlikely. I mean, these people were explorers, people who explore unfamiliar areas like this. Evan and I, we’re just kids. Smart kids, yes, but not explorers.

 

But knowing that these explorers didn’t make it back, well, it gave me a certain feeling. It was more than simple determination; it was almost an itch I had to scratch.

 

I read on and found out that it was off the coast of Maine, and that it took about five and half hours to get there if I went by boat and three hours by plane.

 

“What is that?” A voice said behind me. I turned around to find Evan standing behind me, crossing his arms.

 

I slammed my book closed; I didn’t want Evan to know about this until I was sure about the plan. “Evan! What are you doing here?”

 

He held up his sketch book, “I left this here and came to get it. What are you doing here?”

 

I pointed towards the children’s section, “Caleb wanted to come to story time.”

 

Evan raised an eyebrow at me, “And you were reading about The Ivory Isle because…?”

 

“Uh, I just…” My voice trailed off as I tried to come up with an excuse.

 

Evan sighed, “Tiana, what did I tell you about this?”

 

“You told me not to anything crazy,” I replied. “But there’s a reason I’m doing research. So I can make sure that I won’t do anything crazy.”

 

“I saw that page, you know,” Evan said. “If explorers didn’t make it back, what makes you think that we’ll survive?”

 

“Uh, well…” I stammered out.

 

Evan waved his hands in the air, “You know what, Tiana? If you want to go on this suicide mission, fine, but don’t expect me to go along with you.” And then he left.

 

I stood there, stunned. It stung to hear Evan so irritated with me. I was looking forward to doing this together.

 

“Tiana?” Caleb came around the corner.

 

I hastily wiped away the tears that had formed in my eyes. “Yes?”

 

“Were you crying?” He asked.

 

I shook my head, “No, no, I wasn’t. I just…yawned.” I mimicked a fake yawn for effect.

 

“Oh, okay.” He looked at the ground and then back up to me, “Do you want me to tell you about the story we read?”

 

I smiled softly and nodded, “Sure, go ahead. But we should get a move on, Mom is going to be waiting for us.”

 

I slung my backpack over my shoulder and took his hand as we walked and he told me all about how the story he read was called This Book Will Not Be Fun and how the main character was an uptight mouse and the mouse was trying to tell the story but all these weird things kept happening in the background.

 

“And it was really funny,” he finished.

 

I smiled, “It sure sounds funny.”

 

He gave me a toothy grin.

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Lucy

 

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

Bump!

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Lucy

 

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cloudart142

Branch: Lucian

Great Job so Far! Keep it up! you are doing an awesome job so far. so Far! Keep it up.Great Job so Far! Keep it up

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Hellooooooooooooo!

I’m a

Dreamer

Book- lover

Soccer Player

Artist 

And Music Listener 

Nice to Meet You,

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

CA142-

 

Thank you so much!

 

Chapter 4

Evan Liao

 

I stormed back into the apartment and slammed my bedroom door.

 

          “Evan?” My mom called. “Is everything alright?”

 

          “Yeah,” I lied.

 

          I could hear Granny mutter something about how I was a teenage boy and that these things are typically normal.

 

          Why the heck did Tiana insist on being so crazy? She was just a thirteen-year-old girl. And was she expecting to drag poor, innocent Caleb into this?

 

          I didn’t have much appetite for dinner. I picked at my food all through the meal.

 

          “Are you sure everything’s okay?” Mom probed.

 

          “Kiandra,” Granny told her. “He’s a teenage boy. He probably kissed some girl and she rejected it.”

 

          I felt my cheeks redden. I wasn’t the kind of boy to just go kissing random girls. That was weird. And if I ever did kiss someone, I would have to have gotten to know them, maybe go out a few times, and then, maybe, maybe, we would kiss.

 

          Mom took note of this act of embarrassment, “But he isn’t like that.” She turned to me, “Right Evan?”

 

          I nodded absently, “Yeah.”

 

          “See, I told you,” Mom told Granny.

 

          “It’s nothing, Mom,” I gave Mom a weak smile. “I’m just really tired. I’m gonna head to bed.” I stood up and picked up my plate, “Do you want me to take the dishes to the sink?”

 

          Mom nodded, “Yes, thank you, Evan.”

 

          I picked up mine, Mom’s, and Granny’s dinner plates, silverware, and glasses and took them to the sink. Then, I went to my room and closed the door. I changed into my pajamas and slid into bed.

 

          I put my headphones in and started listening to Brand New Eyes by Bea Miller. I tossed and turned, but I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t stop thinking about Tiana going in this alone. But I also couldn’t stop thinking about how nothing was going to stop her. I had to go with her. Whether I liked it or not. I had to keep her safe – even though I knew very well that I was just as likely to get killed as she was.

         

          Now, could I have waited to tell her this at school? No. I picked up my phone for a flashlight and opened the door of my bedroom and saw that Mom had already gone to her room and Granny was knocked out on the recliner, the TV playing. I crept towards the door, quickly opened it – for some reason, doors seem to make the most noise when you open it slowly – and crept into the hall.

 

          Jeez. I never realized how creepy these halls were at night. I took a deep breath, nothing that’s in the light is in the dark, I told myself.

 

          I crept more towards the elevators because there was no way in heck I was about to take the stairs in the dark. I pushed the button and cringed at how loud the ding sound was. I stepped inside and turned on my phone’s flashlight. I had been in this elevator eleventy-billion times but just illuminated by my phone’s flashlight, it had an eerie feeling to it that sent a shiver down my spine. The ride was only one floor, but it felt like an eternity. After what seemed like forever, the doors finally opened and I stepped out into the dark hall.

 

          I crept to apartment 412 and took out the spare key Tiana had given me just in case. I stuck it in the lock, carefully turned, and opened the door quickly again. Then, I crept inside and found a dim light illuminating the kitchen and Tiana standing at the counter, a mug of tea in her hand. It was probably peppermint; it was her favorite of course. I tried closing the door quietly, but I made more noise than I intended.

 

          Tiana’s head quickly snapped to look towards the door and h er eyes widened, “Evan?”

 

          “Shh!” I brought a finger to my lips and then lowered my voice to a whisper, “I need to talk to you.”

 

          “What is it?”

 

          I walked towards her, put my hands on the counter, and sighed, “I’m in.”

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Lucy

 

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

So...I've had this one ready for a while, but I'm flipping l a z y.

 

Chapter 5

Tiana Frazier

 

“What?” I whispered. “You are?”

 

          He nodded, “Yes. I just, I couldn’t stand the thought of you going alone.” Even in the dim glow of the lamp on our counter, I could see Evan’s face turn a light shade of pink.

 

          I wrapped my arms around him and whispered, “Thank you.”

 

          He pulled away, “No problem. Now, how are we going to pull this off?”

 

          I showed him with what I came up with:

·        We sneak out at approximately 1:35 am next Thursday

·        Then we get the train tickets to Maine that leave at 2:03 am

·        We get on the train and stay on that train for two hours and twenty-eight minutes until we get to Maine

·        Once we get to Maine, we look for the nearest marina and charter a boat to get us to The Ivory Isle

 

“Yeah, great, but how-” Evan was cut off by Caleb’s door opening and him stepping out and rubbing his eyes.

 

“Tiana? Evan? What are you two doing?” He asked, sleepily.

 

I rushed over to him, “It’s okay, Caleb. Just go back to sleep.” I tried to lead him back to his room but he saw the notebook on the table.

 

“Hey what are you guys doing?” He rushed over to the table and picked the notebook up. “You guys are leaving?” Caleb looked up at me, “Why?”

 

I looked at Evan, and then, he did something that I couldn’t really see Evan doing, but…

 

He started waving his arms around, and saying, “This is just a dream…this is just a dream…”

 

Caleb giggled but then his expression turned serious again, “But really, what is this about?”

 

I sighed, “Fine. Just…don’t tell Mom and Dad, okay?”

 

He nodded.

 

“When I went to the library with Evan yesterday, I found this,” I handed him the map. “When I took you, I was researching this place. And now, we’re making a plan to go look for this treasure.” I added, “Like pirates.”

 

          An expression of wonder came across his face, “You mean…we get to be pirates?”

 

          Evan and I looked at each other and I sighed, “Yes…”

 

          “Cool! I can’t wait!” Then, he skipped off to his room.

 

          Evan gave me a blank look, “What just happened?”

 

          I shrugged, “I guess we have another partner in this.”

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Lucy

 

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readingmystery130

Branch: Janus

ok,I am on chapter 3 of this now.And so far I love this! I saw what you did when it said--in book 2 chapter 24, pages 272-273!! (One of my favorite parts in MASTERMINDS!) ;) nice!

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<{Rylee}>

 

I like a LOT of different things!

•MASTERMIND•

• Cahill (39 clue fangirl)•

• Elounor shipper•

•CHRISTIAN GIRL•

•book lover•

•one word..{Lovely}-Ian karbra.

ONE DIRECTION FAN!#1D4LIFE

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

Rylee-

 

Thank you! And YES! SOMEONE CAUGHT IT!

 

Chapter 6

Evan Liao

 

This is crazy, I thought. Absolutely crazy.

 

          Why was I going along with this again? Oh yeah. To keep my best friend safe. Why I thought I was the best person to keep her safe and not her parents, or something, I don’t know.

 

          I was super zoned out the next day at school. I’m sure our teachers noticed, but I didn’t care. I couldn’t stop thinking about how absolutely crazy this was.

 

          After school, Tiana caught up to me. “Okay, in class, I came up with a list of supplies we’ll need to survive over there,” She told me, handing me her notebook, with a list scrawled in her pretty handwriting:

 

1.      Water – 1 gallon/person/day

2.   Food (ready to eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables)

3.     Canned juices or soup

4.   High energy foods (peanut butter, granola bars, trail mix)

5.     Manual can opener

6.     Swiss army knife

7.     First aid kit

8.    Walkie-talkies (3)

9.     Flashlights (3)

10.  Duct tape

11.   Compass (3)

12.                        Matches

13.  Toilet paper

 

“Yeah,” I said. “Toilet paper is definitely a must.”

 

Tiana laughed which made me feel all warm inside. “Anyway, c’mon, let’s go shopping.”

 

***

          We also bought backpacks along with everything else. I tried as hard as I could to ignore the look the cashier gave us as we put all of our stuff on the conveyor belt.

 

          She raised an eyebrow, “You guys runnin’ away from home, or something?”

 

          Tiana and I looked at each other. I let out a laugh, “No, we’re uh, going camping and we need all of this.”

 

The lady still looked like she didn’t believe us but she kept putting the things in bags without another word.

 

“Okay,” Tiana said to me as we were walking out of the store. “Here’s the plan: we go to your house since your mom is working and Granny Miyako is probably sleeping or watching TV.”

 

I nodded, “Yeah.”

 

We went into the apartment and found Granny on the recliner, not sleeping, but watching some rerun of I Love Lucy.

 

She turned around when she heard the door open and Tiana and I stepped inside. “Evan? Is that you?” She asked.

 

“Yeah, don’t worry; Tiana and I are just working on a school project,” I lied.

 

          I didn’t really like lying to Granny. She was always the one I could talk to if my mom couldn’t. I was really close to her, so lying to her felt almost like I was betraying Granny’s trust.

 

          She turned back to the TV and said, “Well, have fun.”

 

          Tiana and I sighed and went into my room to start putting the stuff in the backpacks. Tiana’s backpack was purple and held one of the waters, a compass, the canned stuff, the high-energy foods, a flashlight, and the manual can opener.

 

          “Hey, do you think…?” I already knew where Tiana was going with this question.

 

          “No. You can only take one book! Two at the most!” I said.

 

          She gasped like I just asked her to murder some children. “I can’t only choose one! What if I’m in the mood to read Treasure Island?”

 

          I sighed, “Then take Treasure Island.”

 

          “But what if I want to read Wonder?”

 

          “Then take Wonder.”

 

          “But what if-”

 

          I sighed again, “Just pick one book, and take that, okay?”

 

          She nodded grimly and we went back to packing. My backpack was bright orange and held another one of the waters, a compass, the Swiss army knife, a flashlight the first aid kit, the duct tape, and the matches. Caleb’s backpack was blue and held the last of the waters, a flashlight, a compass, and toilet paper.

 

          Tiana held up a tattered bunny and put it in Caleb’s pack, “He’s not going to want to sleep without Rondelle.”

 

          I smiled as she tenderly put it in.

 

          “Hey, if this plan doesn’t work out…” I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to tell her, but suddenly I felt my face get hot and I backtracked, “We should write our parents a note.”

 

          She looked almost…disappointed, but she nodded, “Yeah, I was actually just thinking of that…I’m going to work on it with Caleb tonight.”

 

          Tiana and I put the backpacks in the deep dark depths of my closet just as the door opened and Granny stepped in.

 

          “Don’t keep the door closed,” then, she gave me a teasing look, “especially if you have a girl over.”

 

          I suddenly felt like Granny had turned the heat up fifty degrees and I looked at Tiana, who chuckled and shook her head, but I could see a visible blush on her cheeks.

 

          I walked over to Granny and lowered my voice, “You can’t say things like that in front of Tiana.”

 

          Granny chuckled, “Relax, I’m just messing with you.” Then she walked out of my room.

 

          I walked back to where Tiana was putting making so that the backpacks weren’t visible to anyone if they just gave a quick look inside my closet.

 

          “Sorry about that,” I told her, sitting back down.

 

          She smiled at me, “It’s okay, I like Granny Miyako, she can always make me laugh.”

 

          I smiled as she kept adjusting the backpacks. After a few more minutes, Tiana had finished and she went back to her apartment. I sat down at my desk and started to write my letter:

 

Dear Mom and Granny,

 

          I’m sorry if I don’t come back from this. Tiana found this treasure map and now she’s obsessed with finding the treasure…and I ended up agreeing to go on this crazy mission.

 

          If I don’t return, then there are some things I want to say:

 

          Mom: I love you and appreciate how hard you work and everything you’ve done for me since Dad left us, even if I don’t always show it.

 

          Granny: Thank you for being there when I needed it. And thanks for always being able to make me smile, even if you embarrass me while you’re at it.

 

          And if I do return, alive and well, then you can just reread this letter after you kill me for running away on this insane and crazy mission.

 

-Evan

 

          I put the letter in an envelope and stuffed the envelope in the top drawer of my desk. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I sat at the edge of my bed, thinking about how crazy this whole thing was until Mom called me for dinner.

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Lucy

 

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Branch: Ekaterina

What if I titled my stories with really clickbaity titles...?

 

INTO THE WOODS-

 

A GIRL WAKES UP IN A REMOTE LOCATION WITH NO MEMORY...YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

 

THE NEWCOMER-

 

TWO CHILDREN SEE A STRANGE CAR PARKED OUTSIDE OF A HOUSE THEY KNOW IS ABANDONED...WHAT HAPPENS NEXT WILL SHOCK YOU

 

MISSING SOMEONE-

 

A BOY'S BEST FRIEND STOPS TALKING TO HIM...CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT WHY

 

THE TREASURE MAP-

 

A GIRL FINDS SOMETHING STRANGE IN HER FAVORITE BOOK...WHAT IT IS WILL BLOW YOUR MIND

 

BTW the last name Babineaux is completely made up...just needed a last name in there lol

 

Chapter 7

Tiana Frazier

 

Tonight was the night.

 

          Evan and I were pretty much in a daze all the way throughout school and when we went to the library, I decided to check out that book about the islands to take. You know, since there was a whole article about The Ivory Isle. I stuck the map in the page about the isle when the librarian gave me the book.

 

          I convinced my parents to let Evan spend the night. I didn’t need to tell them the exact reason Evan was spending the night…but the point is they said yes.

 

          At 1:25, Evan and I changed out of our pajamas (Evan changed in the closet) and slung the backpacks over our shoulders. I gently put the Islands book and walked over to my shelf to try and pick out one of my children to take with me.

 

I considered The Newcomer by Lucy Babineaux or Story Thieves by James Riley, and finally settled on a book called The Door in the Alley (which was about explorers) and zipped up the pack. I carefully tiptoed to Caleb’s room and softly knocked on the door. He opened it and I handed him his backpack, putting my finger to my lips and quietly saying, “Sh!

 

          We crept towards the door, carefully opened it, and stepped out into the hall. We did it. We made it out the front door!

 

          Caleb pointed towards the elevator, “Adventure is-”

 

          Evan clamped a hand over his mouth and sheepishly smiled. “Maybe not in here…where we can wake the neighbors.”

 

          Caleb nodded as Evan removed his hand from his mouth. “You’re right,” he said.

 

          We walked towards the elevator, pressed the down button, and waited. When the elevator finally came, I ushered Evan and Caleb inside.

 

          “Get in!” Evan whispered urgently.

 

          “Why?” I whispered back.

 

          He pointed towards the end of the hallway, only for me to find Riley Downes, the teenage daughter walking to her parents’ apartment, a Starbucks cup in her hand.

 

          I quickly pushed the close button, and, to my delight, the doors to the elevator closed just as she was passing it. Evan and I breathed a sigh of relief as the elevator traveled down to the lobby.

 

          Evan pulled me towards the back of the elevator and lowered his voice so Caleb couldn’t hear it, “How are we supposed to get past the doorman?”

 

          I didn’t even think of that. I started to try and come up with a solution when the elevator doors opened and Caleb tip-toed out the elevator. I was about to go after him when I took note of our doorman, Doug Bevelaqua was sitting at the front desk, his feet up, sleeping.

 

          Huh, I thought. Isn’t that convenient?

 

          Evan and I followed Caleb out the door, tip-toeing past a sleeping Doug, careful not to wake him up. And then, we were out the building.

 

          I pointed towards the horizon line as Caleb did the same, “Adventure is out there!” We both quoted from our favorite movie, Up.

 

          I looked over at Evan who was grinning down at Caleb.

 

          “Okay,” I said. “First things first, we need to get a cab.”

 

          We walked up and down the streets for a while before we saw a cab come around the corner. Don’t think I don’t understand that we probably look really weird right now. Two thirteen-year-olds and a seven-year-old running up and down the streets of Massachusetts. Yeah, I knew we looked really, really weird right now.

 

          The cab pulled over and the driver stuck his head out, “Are you kids okay? How old are you?”

 

          “Sixteen,” Evan piped up. “We need to get to the nearest train station.”

 

          The driver didn’t say anything as we got in the car. Evan and me on the sides and Caleb in the middle. He started driving without another word, but I could see the looks he kept flashing us. Like we were two hooligans and we’d kidnapped this poor little kid and now we were on our way out of town so the police wouldn’t find us. Eventually, we made it to the train station, and we got off and paid the driver. He drove away and left the three of us standing there.

 

          Evan checked his watch. “We’ve got twenty minutes until the train comes.”

 

          I looked around and saw a small diner with the lights on. I pointed, “We could get something to eat before we leave.”

 

          Evan nodded, took Caleb by the hand, and led him towards the diner, motioning for me to follow him. We reached the diner and we sat down at one of the booths.

 

          The waitress was young (sixteen?) so I assumed the older people in the back, cooking, and cleaning were her parents. She had blonde hair in a half-up-half-down hairstyle and bright green eyes with flecks of gold in them. Her nametag read: Maya. She took one look at Evan and her face turned pink.

 

          I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Everyone always thought Evan was older than thirteen. One time we were walking by the high school and this group of girls looked at him and started giggling and waving at him.

 

          “Why are they doing that?” He had asked, looking down at his feet, clearly embarrassed.

 

          I had glanced over at them and then back at him, “I think they think you’re cute.”

 

          He had glanced at them again and they erupted into another fit of giggles, “Why?”

 

          “Just ignore them,” I had told him.

 

          “Tiana,” Evan’s voice snapped me back to reality. “What do you want?”

 

          “Oh, uh…” I looked over the menu, “The waffles please, and some orange juice.”

 

          “Got it…” Maya wrote my order down. “That should be out soon.” She took one last glance at Evan before she left.

 

          “I have to go to the bathroom,” I said, standing up.

 

          I walked over to where the bathroom was when I bumped into the waitress. She nearly spilled the drinks that were resting on the tray, two orange juices, and chocolate milk.

 

          “Sorry,” I apologized, steadying the cups for her.

 

          She tucked a loose piece of her blonde hair behind her ear. “Oh, it’s okay. Thank you.” She looked towards where Evan and Caleb were sitting. “Your boyfriend is really cute.”

 

          I started to shake my head, “Oh, he’s not my-” but then I looked towards where they were sitting.

 

Evan was playing with Caleb, pretending that one of the forks was an airplane, and Caleb was giggling with glee. He always said that he wasn’t good with children, but I saw the way he was with Caleb. I really only ever thought of him as my best friend who I’ve known since we were practically in diapers. But now…it was almost like I was looking at him in a whole new light.

 

I never noticed this before, but he was really good-looking. I even kind of understood why girls were always saying that.

 

I smiled, “Yeah, he is.”

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Branch: Ekaterina

So I have all these chapters ready but I haven't uploaded them because I'm lazy...

 

Chapter Eight

Evan Liao

 

Tiana came back to the table, smiling.

 

          I raised an eyebrow at her, “Are you okay?”

 

          She looked like I had just brought her back from a fantasy and…was that the slightest bit of red on her cheeks?

 

          She nodded, “Yeah, I just- my mind has been somewhere else all week, you know?”

 

          I nodded, knowing exactly what she was talking about. I don’t even know why I ordered food. I was too jittery and nervous to really enjoy any of it.

 

          The waitress – Maya – brought our food and set it down on the table. “This is for the cute little one,” she set down a plate of Mickey Mouse pancakes in front of Caleb. “This is for the other cute one,” she set a plate of oatmeal down in front of me.

 

          Oh god. Not again. I thought she had been eyeing me, but I wasn’t really sure. I guess I had my answer now.

 

          Maya set a plate of waffles down in front of Tiana, “And for the cute boy’s girlfriend.”

 

          I nearly choked on the orange juice I was drinking, “G-girlfriend?”

 

          Maya had already left and Tiana looked at me sheepishly, “Yeah…she thought we were boyfriend and girlfriend, and it seemed easier to go along with it rather than say no.”

 

          I still stared at her in shock.

 

          Caleb looked up at Tiana, “You and Evan are boyfriend and girlfriend?”

 

          Tiana and I shook our heads at Caleb. “No, no,” Tiana replied. “The waitress just thought we were.”

 

          “Oh, okay.” Caleb went back to eating his pancakes. “I liked her, she was nice.”

 

          Tiana grinned at him and we kind of ate our food. Tiana and I were probably too nervous to eat much of anything, but we didn’t want to be hungry so we choked some bites down. Caleb, on the other hand, was too young to really understand how serious and dangerous this mission was.

 

Eventually, we finished eating and paid for our food. The train was already pretty much arriving at that point, so we rushed on, handed our tickets to the conductor and settled into some seats.

 

And then…we were off to Maine.

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Branch: Ekaterina

So, someone voted for this being their favorite story of mine, so whoo!

 

Chapter Nine

Tiana Frazier

 

“I’m bored…I’m hungry…when are we gonna get there?”

 

          Those questions… every five seconds asked by my lovely little brother. Don’t get me wrong, I love him to death, but sometimes, sometimes.

 

          I could tell Evan was trying to tune him out because he had taken his headphones out (which I didn’t know he packed by the way) and was now listening to music. I had tried tuning Caleb out by reading, but that wasn’t as effective as headphones.

 

          I turned to look at him, “Caleb, why don’t we play a game?”

 

          He looked at me excitedly, “Ooh! I like games! What game?”

 

          “It’s called the, uh… See Who Can Be Quiet the Longest game?” I suggested.

 

          He nodded rapidly, “Oh yeah! Mommy loves that game!”

 

          I nodded and put a finger to my lips. A look of understanding came over his face and he did the same. I sighed and went back to reading my book.

 

          I remembered when we were younger and we would go visit my aunt and uncle in the countryside, my cousin Matthew would take Caleb and me and tell us that we were going to watch the grass grow in order to get us to calm down. There Caleb and I would go, excitedly watching “the grass grow”. I chuckled internally at the memory.

 

          After maybe five minutes, Caleb shouted, “Okay, I lose!”

 

          I groaned internally and turned to Evan. “Evan.” I shook his shoulder when he didn’t respond to me, “Evan.”

 

          He looked at me curiously, took his headphones off, and put them on the back of his neck, “What?”

 

          I pointed to Caleb, “Could you?”

 

          He sighed but nodded and brought Caleb to sit next to him. Finally. I decided to look at the map some more to really know where we’re going to be. Eventually, Caleb tapped my shoulder. I looked up at him and saw that he and Evan were both standing.

 

          “I’m taking Caleb to the dining car,” Evan said. “Do you want to come?”

 

          I nodded, “Sure.” And stood up to follow them.

 

          The dining car looked almost exactly like the normal train cars, except that it had tables that were covered with white tablecloths with fancy glass cups on top of napkins in between the seats. Almost like a mobile restaurant.

 

          We sat down at one of the booths and Evan looked around curiously, “I like this car. It’s really classy.”

 

          And he was right, along with the nicely decorated tables there was violin music playing, and the lights hanging down from the ceiling were really pretty and much nicer than the lights back in the regular cars.

 

          A nicely dressed waiter came to our table, “And would these three lovely young people want to eat?”

 

          Caleb looked over their menu and pointed, “The cookie platter and the cheese platter please.”

 

          Evan and I both turned our heads to look at Caleb, but he just grinned sweetly at us and back to the waiter.

 

          The waiter wrote the order down and looked at us, “And for the lovely couple?”

 

          Again? Really?

 

          Evan tried to brush it off but I could see a tint of red on his cheeks, “I’ll just have some water.” He looked at me, “You?”

 

          I pretended to be really interested in the menu and then I turned back to the waiter, “I’ll take some water too, and I think the little one wants chocolate milk.”

 

          Caleb nodded enthusiastically.

 

          The waiter wrote it all down, “Great, that should be out shortly.” Then, he was gone.

 

          Evan and I watched the waiter leave and then I hissed at Evan, “I can’t believe that waiter said we were a lovely couple.”

 

          Evan shrugged, “Well, I mean, I’m a good-looking guy and you’re a beautiful girl.” Then, he blushed bright red, realizing what he had just said, “Uh, I-I mean, you’re ugly…”

 

          I could feel my own face grow warm and I looked down at my lap, “Y-yeah.”

 

          We kind of sat in awkward silence until the waiter brought the plates and the drinks. He set them down in the middle of the table with a smile and left back to the kitchen.

 

          Caleb gleefully started stuffing his face with cookies and cheese cubes. Evan took a few pieces of each. Meanwhile, I joined Caleb in stuffing my face with the cookies. If there was one thing I couldn’t resist, it was cookies, no matter how nervous I was. I looked up to see Evan grinning at me, and I grinned back, a mouthful of cookies.

 

          Eventually, we finished eating and went back to our seats, and after a few minutes, the conductor announced, “Anyone getting off in Maine, your stop is coming up.”

 

          That was us. We stood up and waited for the train to stop and we got off the train.

 

          We had made it another step. We were in Maine.

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Branch: Ekaterina

I'm back with another chapter!

 

*no one responds* *cricket noises*

 

Chapter Ten

Evan Liao

 

Well, two thirteen-year-olds and a seven-year-old in Maine on their own. What could go wrong? The answer: so, so much.

 

          First, it was getting a taxi to take us to the nearest marina so we could hop on a boat to The Ivory Isle. Oh wait, we weren’t just hopping on a boat, no, no we were going to steal it. I can imagine absolutely nothing going wrong with that.

 

          Once we were at the marina, Caleb being the curious seven-year-old he is, wanted to get on every single boat and go sailing. Tiana and I had to tell him that we were only getting on one boat. Even still, he tried to ask the seagulls for directions to the best boat.

 

Eventually, Tiana found a nice, sturdy sailboat for us to take.

 

“Are you sure this is safe?” I asked anxiously. “You know, it’s not too late to change our minds and head back to Massachusetts.”

 

Tiana glared at me, “Of course it’s safe, do you see the owner of this boat anywhere around here?”

 

And just as she said that a bald man stepped up behind her and asked in a gruff voice, “What’s going on here?”

 

Oh, he seems like such a lovely dude, I thought sarcastically.

 

          Tiana spun around and quickly stood up from her kneeling position.  “W-what are we doing here?” She stammered out.

 

          “We’re sorry,” I told the man. “My…girlfriend’s little brother loves boats and we were looking at them.” It was kind of scary how fast I could come up with that lie. “Sorry to bother you.”

 

          The man stared at me like he didn’t believe me but he walked over to his boat. Oh great, now we have to find another boat. Maybe the owner of this one has a bazooka, wouldn’t that be nice?

 

          I walked back to where Tiana and Caleb were and Tiana stared at me in admiration. “You’re a great liar,” She said.

 

          I shrugged, “It’s not something to be proud of.”

 

          She smiled. “Hey, uh, so…the girlfriend thing…?”

 

          I realized what she was talking about and looked down at my feet, “Oh! Yeah, uh, that! I just figured: so many other people have already thought that what would one more hurt?

 

          Tiana nodded, “Yeah, good thinking.” She looked around the Marina and said, “We need to find another boat in order to get there.” She grinned, “You know, in one of my favorite books, they steal a fishing boat in order to get to this waterpark in the Bahamas.”

 

          I couldn’t help smiling, leave it to Tiana to think about books at a time like this, “Yeah, that's great, except fishing boats normally have owners with spear guns and we don’t want to mess with any of that.”

 

          We kept searching until we found a nice, blue sailboat to travel in. Tiana stepped in first, I handed Caleb to her, and I stepped in myself.

 

          And just like that, we were sailing off to The Ivory Isle.

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Branch: Ekaterina

Chapter Eleven
Tiana Frazier

 

Hey, don’t you know that we’re off to see the world? We’re off to find our dreams. Why are our hearts beating so fast? Why is there suddenly a brand-new hope inside of us that will surely last? Hey, don’t you know that we’re off to see the world? We’re off to find things new. So, we will follow every clue. Just think that there’s suddenly a chance to find in all we dreamed of dreams come true.”

 

Evan had started singing that song from that old Alvin and the Chipmunks movie (he has a really great singing voice, by the way) half an hour into the ride and now Caleb was all for singing it (even long after Evan stopped). I mean, at least it kept him from asking questions like back on the train.

 

    While Caleb sang, Evan and I worked on getting the boat there in one piece. So far so good. I hoped that there wouldn’t suddenly be a hurricane like in The Wide Window when the Baudelaire children sailed a boat through a hurricane in leech-infested waters to Curdled Cave to rescue their Aunt Josephine. You have to admire the kids’ courage.

 

    We had been on the water for about a while and I was getting kind of restless, my mind a blizzard of chaotic thoughts. What if we were going the wrong way? How long were we going to be on the water? I never bothered to check how long it took to actually get to the island so I have no idea how long we’ll actually be on the water. For all I know, we could be on the water for a week and never actually get to the island.

 

Calm down, I told myself I typically liked looking on the bright side of things, so let’s list a few:

•    We managed to sneak out of our apartments and steal a boat to The Ivory Isle.
•    We’re alive.
•    Evan is here with me instead of being mad at me for doing this.
•    The night was beautiful.

 

In my thinking and pondering, I hadn’t noticed that Caleb had stopped singing and had curled up on one of the seats, sleeping. I smiled and turned to where Evan was working the sail.

 

He looked back at me, “You should sleep too.”

 

I shook my head, “I have to help sail the boat.”

 

“Are you sure?” He asked.

 

I nodded, “Yeah.”


“Hey, so, uh,” he seemed to not be able to get the words out.  “What happens if we can’t find the isle and just end up bobbing like a couple of lost birds in the middle of the ocean?”

 

I smiled sadly at him, “I try not to think about that. Let’s just hope that we can make it there with no complications.”

 

He grinned, his teeth shining white in the moonlight. “I can always count on you to look on the bright side of things.”

 

I returned his playful grin, “And I can always count on you to look on the downside of things.”

 

He chuckled, “It’s better not to get your hopes up. If you don’t, you’re either right or pleasantly surprised.”

 

“Isn’t that the optimistic look at pessimism?” I asked him.

 

Evan shook his head, still smiling, “The paradox is very high on this one.”

 

I nodded and went back to help steer the boat.

 

After a little while, I heard Evan call out, “I think I see something!”

 

I perked up and looked at where he was pointing. He was right. There was a shadowy figure that I could make out as The Ivory Isle. I shook Caleb awake and pointed the island out to him.

 

“Wow,” he breathed.

 

We started to get closer and I quickly pulled the map out of my backpack. I looked it over and felt all the color drain from my face. The shark-infested waters, I had completely forgotten about that.

 

It’s okay, I told myself. Maybe it isn’t- The thought was interrupted by a thump rocking the boat.

 

Sharks.

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Branch: Ekaterina

Chapter Twelve

Evan Liao

 

A thump rocked the boat and it swayed back and forth.

 

          Oh, perfect, I thought. Just what we need.

 

“W-what was that?” Caleb shrieked, and I could see his bottom lip quiver.

 

          I looked towards Tiana, “I’m sorry, I don’t remember you mentioning shark-infested waters!”

 

          She shrugged sheepishly, “I forgot there were shark infested waters! It’s okay, sharks are mostly non-hostile creatures, people actually die more from vending machines than from sharks! So, unless-”

 

          Another thump rocked the boat and Caleb started to cry. I felt my sock getting wet and looked down to see that this thump had put a hole in the boat.

 

“Uh oh,” I murmured.

 

          Okay, this was getting worse, we were kind of close to shore but not close enough to ride a sinking boat through shark-infested waters before dying.

 

          “Why do they keep doing that?” Caleb cried.

 

          Tiana looked at him, trying to stay calm, “Remember that story I told you? With that girl named Claudia and how she was stranded on an island and when that guy came to rescue them, his boat was getting attacked by sharks?”

 

          “Tiana, I don’t think that’s helping!” I yelled.

 

          She ignored me and went back to comforting Caleb. “Remember how all the sharks were just playing music on the boat?”

 

          Caleb nodded, “Yeah.”

 

          “Okay, then. These sharks are just playing music for us right now; I don’t think they want to hurt us.”

 

          Well. I have to say, that was a pretty good thing to say to a little kid. If I hadn’t known better, and if I was a little seven-year-old kid like Caleb, I would’ve bought it myself.

 

          Oh yeah, speaking of music, do you want to know what song decided to get stuck in my head at that moment? The Jaws theme song. Perfect, just perfect.

 

          The three of us tried to figure out a way to get us to shore. Tiana had picked up the oars and she and Caleb were trying to get us over there. It was working…until it wasn’t anymore and we were sinking even further.

 

          “We’re gonna have to jump!” Tiana shouted.

 

          I looked at her, “Jump?!”

 

She nodded, “It’s the safest way!”

 

“How?!”

 

          Tiana looked down into the water, “The sharks won’t eat us unless we look like seals or something! We’ll be fine!”

 

          Don’t get me wrong, I loved Tiana, but sometimes it seemed like she had zero common sense. I was about to protest, to say something but she was already diving into the water, her backpack on her back. Caleb dived in after her.

 

I closed my eyes and put my backpack on. Okay, I told myself. Don’t think too hard about it, just jump. Just…jump!

 

          Then, I was in the water, my backpack also on my back and was swimming past the sharks, which kept looking at me, but they weren’t moving. I reached shore and crawled up onto it.

 

          “We made it!” Tiana cried and threw her arms around me.

 

          I hugged her back and said, “We sure did, all thanks to you.”

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Chapter Thirteen

Tiana Frazier

 

It was getting dark; luckily it was a full moon. Evan had set up a fire and the three of us were all lying around it, Caleb already fast asleep.

 

Evan looked at me, “You should sleep.”

 

“You should sleep too,” I replied.

 

He shook his head, his hair rubbing against the sand, “Someone has to be the lookout.”

 

“We’re on the outskirts of the island, Evan. It doesn’t start to get dangerous until we get deeper in,” I told him. “Plus, you stayed up just as much as I did. You need sleep just as much as I do.”

 

He gave me a long, hard look then finally sighed, “I’m just…I’m scared. I’m scared that if I fall asleep, something bad will happen to us.”

 

“You shouldn’t have to carry the burden of protecting us,” I said.

 

“I know it’s just…” He trailed off. “I just don’t want to end up like my father.”

 

I stood up, walked towards where he was laying down, and lay down next to him. “From what you’ve told me of your father and from what I remember, you are so different from him, and I can assure you that you won’t end up like him.”

 

He turned his head towards me and smiled as his eyes met mine, “You sure?”

 

“Positive,” I assured him.

 

He put his arm around me and said, “Thanks.”

 

I smiled up at him, “No problem.”

 

And that’s how we fell asleep. Evan and I laying side by side, his arm around my shoulders, but it wasn’t weird or anything. It was just nice.

 

 

I woke up to Caleb murmuring, “Ooh, cool!”

 

I sat up quickly and looked towards the noise. Caleb was standing over a lake that branched out into a stream. I walked over to him and saw that he was looking at some fish. I looked them over; there was something about them that…wait a minute. Didn’t the map say that there was something called Piranha Lagoon?

 

“Caleb, I don’t think we should-” but Caleb was already running into the water. “Caleb, no!” I shouted.

 

Evan sat up sleepily, “Tiana? What’s going on?”

 

“No time to explain!” I ran towards Caleb, where he was staring down at the clear water.

 

“Look, Tiana,” He told me. “It’s fish.”

 

Part of me hoped I would find pretty angel fish in there. But I didn’t. Instead, what I found were these ugly looking piranhas.

 

“Caleb, get out of there,” I commanded.

 

He didn’t listen. He swished his hand around in the water, and then Caleb let out a scream. I ran towards him and splashed into the water myself, the piranha threatening to bite my leg off. I picked Caleb up and ran out of the water. He was crying at this point and I took him back to where Evan was looking at us in apprehension.

 

“What happened?” He asked.

 

“We nearly got eaten by piranhas,” I responded. “But…” I looked down at them, and smiled a little, “We’re okay now.”

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Chapter Fourteen

Evan Liao

 

Why the heck did I agree to this? In the span of time since we left home to right now we’ve encountered an angry boat owner, nearly gotten eaten by sharks, and now Tiana and Caleb nearly got eaten by piranhas. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s just a tad bit much to happen in twenty-four hours.

 

So, again I ask myself, why did I agree to this? Well, I’ll take this over lying awake at night, wondering whether or not Tiana is dead any day.

 

We were walking now, since Tiana saw the volcano and decided that we should explore.

 

“Hey, check it out!” Tiana ran over to the mountains and looked at the map. “Paramount Peaks,” she said, smiling at the birds overhead.

 

For some reason, I suddenly ached to be back at home, listening to music and drawing in my sketch book. I was regretting not bringing it along. Drawing in it while listening to my favorite song was a great form of relaxation for me. And I could use a good stress reliever right now. I shook that thought from my head and tried to focus on the matter at hand: Paramount Peaks.

 

“What are we going to do? Climb it?” I asked.

 

They didn’t listen to me. Instead, Caleb ran forward and asked, “Is this snow?”

 

I rolled my eyes and walked forward, “It can’t be snow. It’s like, eleventy billion degrees out, there’s no way that-” but as I started getting closer to the mountain, I noticed that there was light fluffy snow on the ground.

 

Tiana bent down and picked some of it up in her hand, “Incredible.”

 

I had to touch the snow myself to believe what was happening. “But…how?”

 

Tiana put a hand on my shoulder, “Don’t question it. Just accept it.”

 

But I couldn’t help it. How did this area of the island have snow when the rest of the isle didn’t? Why did the birds not move from this spot? They circled the area all they wanted, but they never moved away from the mountains. The birds were such a stark contrast to the white of the snow, too. They were all different colors, and brightly colored too, with long tails.

 

After getting Caleb up from playing in the snow – okay, maybe I had to get Tiana up too – we continued our journey. We came up to this cave which Tiana confirmed as The Gray Caverns.

 

I looked at Tiana as we approached it, “Are you sure we should go in there?”

 

She nodded, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

 

I mentally listed a number of things that could happen in the cave.

 

Caleb inched closer to Tiana and wrapped his arms around her waist. I came up on the other side of him as we entered the cavern.

 

It was beautiful on the inside. The stalactites that had grown in the cavern glowed a bright, bright blue and reflected on the glassy floor. I didn’t normally draw scenery, but this could be made into an interesting architecture project.

 

“This is amazing,” Tiana breathed.

 

“I know,” I agreed.

 

“Tiana?” Caleb asked, pointing, “What is that?”

 

I snapped out of this fantasy and looked towards where Caleb was pointing. What I saw was two shadowy figures approaching us.

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Chapter Fifteen

Tiana Frazier

 

“Who are they?” I heard a woman’s voice ask.

 

“I’m not sure.” A male voice replied.

 

“Hello!” Caleb shouted off into the distance. The cave echoed which made it sound like: hello…hello…hello.

 

“Shh, Caleb,” Evan hissed. I could tell that he didn’t like the look of these guys.

 

The shadowy figures became clearer. I make out their appearances now. The man was tall, with dark hair, a stubbly beard, and hazel eyes. The woman was tall, but not as tall as the man, she had dark raven hair and blue eyes.

 

I was hit by a sudden thought: were these the husband and wife explorers who never came back?

 

They came closer and spoke directly to us.

 

“Who are you?” The woman asked sternly.

 

“Well, I’m Tiana,” I said. “This is my little brother Caleb, and my friend, Evan.”

 

“Now,” Evan began. “Who are you?”

 

The man grinned, “We’re the McLean’s.”

 

“The who’s?” Evan asked.

 

I elbowed him and hissed, “The explorers who came here and never made it back.”

 

“What are a couple of kids like you doing this island?” The woman asked us.

 

Evan stepped forward, “She thought we could make it out here on our own.”

 

Before the woman could say anything else, I spoke up, “Have you guys ever heard of the lost treasure?”

 

They exchanged glances and then the man motioned for us to come with them, “We have something to show you.”

 

 

 

Where these explorers had set up camp was beautiful. I mean, it wasn’t anything luxurious with solid gold bath tubs and stuff like that, but the aesthetic of it was amazing.

 

They had laid out big leaves across the floor, probably for blankets. I noticed that they’d strung up lanterns that, in the dark, I was pretty sure glowed all different colors.

 

“Welcome to our humble home,” The man said making a grand welcoming gesture.

 

The woman motioned for us to sit around the fire pit (that wasn’t on at the moment). “Now, tell us, what are three children like yourselves doing on this island?”

 

I took my book about the islands out of my backpack, opened it up to the page about the island, and took the map out. “Here,” I said, handing it to her.

 

The man and the woman looked it over, finally the woman sighed, “Let me guess. You-” she pointed to me as she said this. “found this map and you’re one of those really curious people who just needs to figure this map out, so you recruited him-” this time she pointed to Evan. “You don’t look like brother and sister, so what is he? Your boyfriend?”

 

Evan and I looked at each other, and then back at the woman shaking our heads. “We’re just friends, ma’am,” Evan said, looking down now and blushing slightly.

 

The woman nodded slightly, but she still looked like she didn’t believe us.

 

The man smiled a bit, “Believe me, I know the story.”

 

Did he mean that he and his wife started out as best friends too? And then fell in love and eventually got married?

 

I was such a sucker for stories like that. In fact, most of my favorite ships are friendship turned relationship stories (Tori Pritel x Eli Frieden, Anna Adams x Jeffrey Mahar, Rosi Alvaran x Edwy Watanaboneset, Summer Dawson x Jack Will, etc.).

 

But I was a sucker for boys and girls just being able to be best friends too (Sal x Miranda Sinclair, Dash Gibson x Kira Howard, Sebastian x Evie Drake, Bethany Sanderson x Owen Conners, etc.)

 

Which one were Evan and me? Well, I’m not really sure about that yet. Hopefully we can figure it out soon.

 

“Anyway,” the woman continued. “So, you two little love birds and this little kid hop on a boat and come to this island.”

 

Wow. She pretty much had us all figured out. Well, except the part about Evan and me being love birds…maybe.

 

“Okay,” Evan started. “So, you figured it out. Now, who are you and what are you two doing here?”

 

“Well, I’m Cory, and that’s Willow,” the man – Cory – told us. “We got here around a year ago, but our boat sank, and we lost our map, so we haven’t been able to find the treasure. We’ve been living on this island for a year, no helicopters coming to save us. But we’ve made the best of it, because we have each other, and that’s what matters.” Cory slipped his hand into Willow’s as he said this, and for the first time since I saw her, Willow smiled.

 

Willow turned back to us and her smile was gone, “Now with you children here, we have a chance of leaving this place.”

 

I smiled sheepishly, “Well…uh, you see…our boat sank too…”

 

“How were you planning on getting off this island then?” Willow asked us.

 

I shrugged, “We were going to cross that bridge when we got to it.”

 

“We can discuss this tomorrow,” Cory said. “Right now, we should get some sleep.”

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Chapter Sixteen

Evan Liao

 

Tiana and I were sitting by the fire, not being able to sleep. Willow, Cory, and Caleb had already fallen asleep, so it was just the two of us now.

 

“The cave looks kind of eerie right now,” I said.

 

Tiana shrugged and looked around, smiling, “I think it looks beautiful, the way the fire glows on the stalactites.” She grinned at me, “Like when we went ice skating and the sun glowed on the ice during sunset.”

 

I chuckled, “I remember that day. You insisted on doing a figure eight, no matter how many times you fell, no matter how weird you looked trying.” I turned to her, “I’ve always admired that about you. That you don’t care that you look weird to other people, you’re just…you.”

 

Her face darkened for a second and she turned back to the fire.

 

“What happened?” I asked. “What did I do wrong?”

 

Tiana turned back to me, her eyes looked like they had tears in them as she sighed, “Do you remember about a year ago when you, your mom, and Granny Miyako went on a three-month long trip to Asia?”

 

I nodded. I remembered that trip. I remembered it for sure. We went to all different kinds of countries in Asia. China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, you name it. It was one of the best experiences of my life. I felt so free…it was one of the few times that I could just feel spontaneous without overthinking everything.

 

Although…it doesn’t seem like it was one of Tiana’s best experiences. I didn’t know what went down since she didn’t come on the trip with me. She had begged her parents to let her come, but they refused. I mean, I see why, if I had a kid, I wouldn’t let them spend three months in Asia without me, no matter how much I liked their best friend.

 

“Well…there was someone who…didn’t really like that I was so weird and happy.” She said.

 

“What? What do you mean?” I asked her.

 

“I had a bully,” She said quietly like she didn’t want me to hear her.

 

She had a what? I mean, I thought something was kind of off when I got back, but she didn’t say anything about it, so I just let it go. But now…

 

“How could you not tell me about this?” I questioned. “How could you not tell me that someone was bullying you?”

 

She turned to face me again, and I could see that there were tears trickling down her cheeks. “I was humiliated, Evan. You know how much I like being different. Always saying that I didn’t think I was weird, that I was unique. I didn’t want you to know that there was someone who tried to take that from me and that I almost let them.”

 

“What did they say?”

 

“Just things like stop being who you are, no one likes you, and if you don’t stop I’m going to take care of you myself. And some other not so pleasant things..." She was crying now, so I put my arms around her, and let her silently cry, her tears soaking my shirt.

 

“You got this resolved, right?” I asked her.

 

She nodded, “As soon as Principal Henderson found out who it was, he suspended her, and then I found out that she moved schools because her mom had made a big fuss that I was the issue, so they were moving.”

 

That Tiana was the issue? How stupid was that? It wasn’t like she asked to be bullied by this girl. “You said she. Was it Kimberly Nixon?”

 

Tiana nodded weakly, “Yup.”

 

I hugged her tighter, “Well, Kimberly Nixon is an idiot. You’re okay now. You hear me?”

 

She nodded again, “I am.”

 

I let go of the hug and we talked for a little while longer. About different things that we liked. Books, music, drawing, things like that.

 

Finally, I just blurted out, “Tiana, do you like me?”

 

Oh god. Why did I ask that? As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted saying them.

 

She seemed startled for a moment that I asked that question. Then, she made a face and shook her head, “No.”

 

Oh…I had to admit, I was a little disappointed by her answer.

 

“Are you sure?” I pressed on.

 

What the actual heck was wrong with me? Why was I digging myself deeper?

 

“Yes,” she said curtly. She was acting really cold about this question. “Can we just watch the fire?”

 

I nodded, “Yeah.”

 

We were watching the fire again, every few seconds I would sneak glances at Tiana. I couldn’t help myself. She though, kept her eyes trained on the fire. Until she glanced over and caught me looking.

 

“Stop.” She said.

 

I nodded and went back to watching the fire. I snuck another glance at her, and then averted my eyes. She asked me to stop, I told myself. I have to respect that.

 

I glanced once more and saw that she was staring right at me. When she saw that I was looking, she asked, “Why do you keep looking at me like that?”

 

“Why are you looking at me like that?” I asked her, deflecting the question.

 

She just shook her head and turned back to the fire, “Nevermind.”

 

“If you don’t like me,” I began. “Then why would you look at me the way you’re looking at me?”

 

She stood up, but I could see that she was blushing hard. “Look, if I liked you like that don’t you think that I’d just tell you? Well, I don’t, so-”

 

I was on my feet now too, my hands placed on the sides of her face as I brought her close. I could feel my lips brush slightly against hers, but I hesitated for a moment before letting her go and pulling away.

 

I looked at her and saw that her eyes held a mix of happiness and confusion. “Why did you do that?”

 

I shook my head, feeling my face grow warm, but I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t from the fire. “I don’t know. I’m sorry.”

 

She bit her lip and stared at me, “Don’t be.” Then, she walked to where Caleb was sleeping.

 

God, this was going to be a night I’d never forget.

 

 

 

 

We woke up the next morning, feeling groggy. Sleeping on a cave floor does that to you. You know what else does that to you? Not being able to sleep because you feel your heart pumping so hard that you’re afraid it’s going to burst out of your ribcage. After that incident at the fire, I just couldn’t sleep.

 

This was worse than the time we got invited to a party at school. You know those parties you see in the movies where bad things happen.

 

“Look who’s coming,” Tiana had said excitedly. “Ryan Bradford and Missy Hart handing out invitations to the party of the year. It’s begun.”

 

“What makes you think we’ll even get an invite?” I had asked her.

 

Ryan and Missy came and started to pass by us when Missy stopped him. “Wait.” She had said.

 

The two of them rifled through the envelopes and handed one to each of us. Then, they walked off.

 

Tiana started smiling really big. “Do you know what this means?” She had asked excitedly.

 

I shook my head.

 

“We’re going to be with them! We’re going to live the popular life!”

 

“Do you really think we should go to this party?” I had to voice my concern here. What else was I supposed to do? “I mean, these things always end up trouble.”

 

“C’mon,” Tiana had soothed. “We’re only eighth graders, it’s not like everyone’s gonna get drunk or something.”

 

I voiced it again when we were in the hallway about to knock on the apartment door. “Are you sure about this?”

 

She nodded her head rapidly, her frizzy curls bouncing up and down.

 

Missy opened the door and led us inside. My eyes nearly came out of my head. The whole eighth grade had to be here! Maybe even some kids from the high school were here too!

 

I wanted to leave, but I sucked it up and sat in a corner with my sketchbook. I didn’t even know how much time went by until Ryan came and hauled me up by an arm.

 

“Are you going to play or what?” He asked.

 

I was mystified. “Play what?”

 

He pointed to the floor where a lot of kids were sitting in a circle, with…was that a bottle in the middle?!

 

“I’d really rather not…” I started to walk away, but Ryan sat me down with all the others.

 

Thankfully, none of the spins had landed on me – or Tiana, for that matter. Some of the kisses only lasted two seconds, while some of them lasted for longer. Ryan and Missy’s lasted the longest. Eventually, it was my turn to spin. I tried to pretend like I had already gone but it was no use. I gave the bottle a good spin and it spun around, and around, and around until it landed on…Tiana?!

 

Her eyes went wide, and I felt my face burning red.

 

I fumbled with the bottle and muttered, “I messed up, hold on…”

 

“No, no, no, no,” Missy laughed. “You gotta kiss her.”

 

The two of us stood up and I whispered, “Sorry.” She put a hand on the back of my neck, and I set one on her waist. We leaned in slowly; I felt our noses brushing against each other.

 

Suddenly, the lights were on and I heard an adult voice yell, “What is going on in here?”

 

It was Missy’s parents! They kicked us all out and Tiana and I walked back home in awkward silence, not being able to look each other in eyes.

 

I really hoped it wasn’t going to be like that again.

 

The five of us were getting ready to go exploring some more when I accidentally bumped into Tiana.

 

“Hi,” she said awkwardly.

 

“Hi,” I said right back. We just stood there a while, staring at each other.

 

“What’s the matter with you two?” Willow asked us. “You were perfectly fine talking to each other yesterday, now you’re looking at each other like something happened.”

 

Tiana and I quickly averted our eyes from staring at the other and looked at Willow.

 

“Wait a minute,” she began. “Did something happen last night? First kiss or something?”

 

I felt my face grow warm as my eyes widened, “No!”

 

Willow shrugged, “Yeah, sure, okay.” But I could tell that she didn’t really buy what I was saying. She started to walk away but she turned around and called, “You two are going to figure it out someday, there’s something there.”

 

Tiana and I just watched as she walked away.

 

“I don’t know what she’s talking about,” Tiana said finally.

 

“I know,” I said, crossing my arms. “She hasn’t even known us for twenty-four hours, and she thinks she has us all figured out.”

 

She laughed awkwardly, “Yeah…”

 

We drifted off and back to getting things ready for more exploring. Eventually, we set off walking, Cory and Willow in the lead. We walked for a good while before stopping at a forest.

 

Vresk Forest,” Tiana whispered.

 

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Hello people of the world who don't read this story I actually have the whole book finished, I'm just so flippin  l a z y so I haven't posted the whole thing yet...

 

Chapter Seventeen

Tiana Frazier

 

It was raining. The five of us had taken a break and we were huddled under an oddly shaped rock with a generous overhang we found in Vresk Forest.

 

I loved the way it smelled and looked right now. Lots of people don’t like the rain because they can’t go to the beach and stuff like that, but I loved the rain. Me, sitting at my bay window with a blanket over me, drinking peppermint tea, reading a book, with the pitter-pat of the rain on the window was my favorite. Oh, how I wished to be back there now.

 

I focused my attention to watch as a tiny animal that looked like a cross between a snake and a lizard crawled up the rock formation. This place had some weird animals.

 

I tapped Caleb’s shoulder and pointed at the animal, “Look. Isn’t that cool?”

 

He nodded and grinned.

 

As I was thinking about being back home in my bay window, I saw Caleb crawling out of the rock formation and jumping around, giggling with glee.

 

“What are you doing?” Evan asked him, and then turned to me, “What is he doing? He’s going to catch pneumonia playing in the rain like that.”

 

“Actually,” Cory spoke up. “He won’t. It’s something about the atmosphere on the island. Just like the peaks have snow when no other section on this island does.”

 

Well, finding out that I wouldn’t get sick if I went out there suddenly made me want to go dance in the rain. I crawled out, and stood up, letting the rain fall on me.

 

I turned around pulled Evan up by his wrists, “C’mon.”

 

“What are you doing?” He asked me, shaking his head. “I don’t dance.”

 

“Yes, you do,” I insisted. “I’ve seen you dance before.”

 

His eyes widened, “When?”

 

I shrugged, “Just times Granny Miyako lets me in and you don’t know yet. You dance very well by the way.”

 

He turned bright red and grumbled, “Fine.”

 

I don’t know if you could really call it dancing, just hopping around in puddles, and Evan twirling me every few minutes, and Evan (although I’m sure that if you ask him about it, will seriously deny it) grinning really hard. I’m not exactly sure when Cory and Willow joined in, but soon they were dancing too.

 

At one point, Evan pulled me towards him to twirl me, but his force knocked me over, landing on top of him, my dark brown curls fell forward, brushing his face as we were nose to nose. I had an instant flashback to that spin the bottle game or last night’s fire incident….or the time we played Twister.

 

“So, which one?” I asked impatiently.

 

“I don’t know,” Evan replied, sifting through the games.

 

“How about Twister?” I suggested.

 

Evan nodded, “Sure, just let me go get Granny so she can read off the actions.”

 

He went to go get her and we started playing. When she called off “right foot red”, Evan and I fell on top of each other. He tried to grab the mat to steady himself, but all that did was tangle us in the mat. We stared at each other, eyes wide as he landed on top of me.

 

Granny Miyako started laughing and said, “Just kiss her already.”

 

That kind of snapped Evan back to reality and he tried to wriggle his way out of the mat.

 

I know, I know, Evan and I have been face to face a lot, but we aren’t quite used to it yet, we get really awkward when it happens. Evan gets more awkward than I do, though. He gets all red-faced and flustered. I, on the other hand, get more nervous and feel all weird inside.

 

Anyway, I got up off of him quickly and brushed myself off. I hadn’t even noticed that the rain had pretty much stopped.

 

“We should get moving,” Willow said.

 

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Branch: Ekaterina

Chapter Eighteen

Evan Liao

 

The Amazon Bog looked eerie. Like something that I wouldn’t want to explore. There were trees everywhere and then a clearing where it was just grass and the swampy liquid.

 

Tiana was all smiles though. She loved learning and seeing new things. Well, except for the time that she learned that Pluto was no longer a planet.

 

You see, Pluto was her favorite planet because it was so small. Then one day in the seventh grade, she was talking about how it was her favorite and then Kimberly Nixon leaned over and whispered, “She does realize that Pluto isn’t a planet anymore, right?”

 

Then, I had to tell Tiana that it wasn’t, and, well…let’s just say that she wasn’t the happiest after that. The next day, she came to school wearing a shirt that said: It’s okay, Pluto. I’m not a planet either and a skirt with tiny planets and constellations on them.

 

“Okay,” Cory started. “We should get a move on-”

 

“Stop,” Willow said. “I hear something.”

 

The five of us stood still for a moment, the jungle making noises all around us. We were about to start moving again when something jumped out of the trees at us.

 

I couldn’t exactly tell what it was. It kind of looked like the creature I drew for a school project Tiana and I had at school – she wrote a fantasy story, and I drew the characters. The creature looked like a cross between a monkey and a spider. It was gross but weirdly cool.

 

“Spider Monkey,” Cory said under his breath.

 

Tiana looked up at him, “Spider monkey? That’s not what-”

 

Shh!” Willow hissed. “He’s not the only one.”

 

That’s when I noticed the other monkey/spider hybrids in the background. Their spider eyes glowing.

 

“Get to the beach,” Cory said.

 

“Why?” Tiana asked. “That’s taking us farther from where we want to go.”

 

“It’s also taking us farther from these things,” Cory insisted. “You three, go hide somewhere they can’t find you.” He and Willow each pulled a knife out of their pack, “Willow and I will care or things from here.”

 

Tiana and Caleb started running and I started to go after them when one of the monkeys attacked me and held me under the marshy water. I struggled against the grip, but I was useless since I didn’t have a weapon, and I was holding my breath. The monkey’s body went limp suddenly and I was able to get up to see that Cory had stabbed the monkey in the back.

 

He helped me up and yelled, “Go!”

 

I ran until I found where Tiana was hiding with Caleb. From where they were, you could see perfectly what was going on at the bog.

 

Tiana and Caleb pulled me into a hug. “I was afraid…” Tiana started.

 

“It’s okay,” I soothed.

 

The three of us pulled away from each other and watched Cory and Willow fight the Spider Monkeys. I held in a breath as I watched one of the creatures attack Cory…wait, was that Willow attacking the monkey. Willow had jumped on top of the one that was attacking Cory and brought it on top of her. I could hear Cory screaming, as he was stabbing the monkey.

 

I looked back at Tiana and saw that she had hugged Caleb closely, and had her face buried in his curls. I could see her shoulders shaking softly. I put an arm around them and whispered to them both, “It’s going to be okay.” But I was almost certain that it wouldn’t.

 

As soon as I saw the body of the creature go limp and Cory scream in agony as he threw the knife into a tree, I knew. I knew just as well as he did that Willow was just killed.

 

 

 

It was nighttime again, and I couldn’t sleep. Tiana and Caleb were both sleeping on the hard floor. There was another fire going and I was watching, trying not to remember the awkwardness of last night’s fire when I heard someone silently crying. I looked around and could see Cory sitting near the volcano, his shoulders shaking with sobs.

 

I stood up, walked towards the volcano, and sat down next to him.

 

He saw me and quickly wiped his eyes, “Oh, hey, Evan. I was just, uh, watching this volcano.”

 

“You don’t have to pretend,” I told him. “I could see that you were crying.”

 

His expression changed, and he looked back towards the volcano, “It’s just- she was everything to me. We’d been best friends when we were kids and then we got married.” He smiled softly, “I was one of the only people who could bring out her happy side.”

 

I smiled at that.

 

Cory looked at me, “We were kind of like you and your friend, Tiana.”

 

I started to deny it but then I sighed, “Can I tell you something?” Cory nodded, and I told him about last night’s fire incident. “I just- I’ve started feeling all these things towards her. I mean, I always thought she was pretty but never in a romantic way. I just thought she was pretty. Now, I feel like- I don’t know, do you think I, you know…?” I don’t know why I was confiding in this guy that I had barely met two days ago, but something told me that he and I would end being very close.

 

Cory let out a chuckle, “You definitely have feelings for her. You look at her like she’s the moon.”

 

“Don’t you mean that I look at her like she’s the sun?” I asked him, raising an eyebrow.

 

Cory shook his head, “I don’t know about you, but I never look at the sun with awe, I just kind of squint at it angrily.” He made his eyes into a squint and I laughed.

 

“I was about your age when I realized that I liked Willow.” He spent the next hour talking about him and Willow, which seemed to make him feel better. Their love story sounded exactly like the kind I wanted to have. Finally, he sighed happily and turned to look at me. “Now, tell me a little about yourself.”

 

I decided not to start with telling him about mine and Tiana’s friendship, but about my family life. I thought that was more important to know about me. “My mom and grandma both raised me because my dad walked out on my mom when I was a baby, so my grandma came to help out.”

 

“God, I know what that’s like.” When I looked at him curiously, he explained, “My mom left my dad with me as a toddler and my dad was in and out half the time. Until I was about fourteen, I always thought that my dad kicked my mom out, so I hated him for that and I was always at Willow’s house. Then one day, Willow’s dad told me that my dad didn’t kick my mom out, but that she left him. I had a pretty solid relationship with my dad after that.”

 

“Wow,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

 

He looked back at the volcano, “It’s okay. Although, I would never let anybody grow up like that.”

 

“Really?” I asked him.

 

He nodded then said, “You should get to bed, we have another long day ahead of us tomorrow.”

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Branch: Ekaterina

Second to last chapter!

 

Chapter Nineteen

Tiana Frazier

 

We were walking again. I was hoping that we would finally find the treasure. This has been a great journey, but…we’d been at it for days. I admit, I kind of expected it to take a shorter time than this. Although, if this were a book, no conflicts would make it boring and I wouldn’t like the book. Maybe someday Evan and I can write this journey like a book, in alternating perspectives between the two of us. I would definitely read that book.

 

I looked at Evan. “Why do you look so tired?”

 

He looked at me like I had just woken him from sleepwalking, “Oh, uh, I couldn’t sleep.” He glanced at Cory and the back at me, “Cory couldn’t either.”

 

I was getting the vibe that Evan and Cory had stayed up most of the night talking. Maybe…just maybe…

 

Caleb tugged on my hand, “Tiana?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“I’m tired.”

 

“Me too, little guy.”

 

“I’m hungry.”

 

“I’m sure we’ll stop to eat soon.”

 

“I have to go to the bathroom.”

 

“We literally just went five minutes ago.”

 

“Well, I didn’t have to go then,” he protested.

 

“Okay,” Cory spoke up. “We’re going to rest right here.”

 

We set down our backpacks to rest in a clearing that was surrounded by palm trees. As I was sitting (while Evan took Caleb to go pee in a bush somewhere) and staring at the floor, there was something familiar about where we were sitting.

 

“Cory, give me the map,” I demanded, reaching over to grab it.

 

“Why?” He asked, handing it to me.

 

I unrolled the map to The Ivory Isle and looked at where the X was. And noticed that it was in a clearing surrounded by, you guessed it, palm trees!

 

“Cory!” I shouted. “Caleb! Evan! I think I found it!”

 

Evan and Caleb came running out of the woods and Caleb looked at me curiously, “Found what?”

 

“The treasure!” I replied excitedly. “I think I’ve found the treasure!”

 

“Tiana,” Evan complained. “You said you knew where this thing was buried.”

 

“Well, I know that it’s in this general area,” I chided.

 

“We’ve been digging forever,” he pointed out, gesturing at the sky, which was already dark. “How could anyone make this fun?”

 

Caleb came in with a flower crown (he had already put one on my head) and rested it on Evan’s head.

 

“Kid,” Cory started. “You’re supposed to be digging.”

 

“Oh,” Caleb sighed. “But I was digging for a really, really long time, and all I found was this old box.”

 

Old box? We all dropped what we were doing, and Cory grabbed the box. He started to open it…here goes. Gold and silver and precious gems. He opened the box and there, lying at the bottom was a small, black, velvet drawstring bag.

 

“That’s it?” Evan grumbled. “A bag?”

 

Cory carefully took it out and opened. When poured out its interior, a small diamond ring fell out with a note attached to it. The note read:

 

You can’t rush something that you want to last forever.

 

You can’t rush something that you want to last forever,” I read. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“I know,” Cory breathed. “It’s supposed to teach us that our adventure together was more important than any treasure. It’s supposed to teach us that our friendship is the most important treasure of all.”

 

If you ask me, that was beautiful.

 

We were on our way home now.

 

A helicopter had found us and picked us up to take us back to Massachusetts. Caleb was snoring softly on my knee, Cory was snoring softly, leaning against the helicopter wall, and Evan and I were staring out at the ground below.

 

“We did it,” I breathed.

 

“Yeah, we did,” Evan said, putting an arm around my shoulders.

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Branch: Ekaterina

Last chapter! I had so much fun with this!

 

Chapter Twenty

Evan Liao

One Year Later

 

Okay, I feel like I should catch you up on what’s happened in the past year.

 

First off, Tiana, Caleb, Cory, and I were famous now, everyone who ever existed (and who’s alive, obviously) wanted to hear about our journey finding The Lost Treasure. This also made Tiana and I very popular in school. Tiana didn’t mind the attention, while I, on the other hand, hated it with a passion tea lemonade.

 

Lots of girls asked me out now and lots of guys asked Tiana out now – I have to say that I’m not really sure how I feel about that – despite the rumor going around that Tiana and I were a couple. I’d mostly get asked out by fellow freshmen, but I was a little surprised that some Sophomores and even one or two juniors would ask me out too.

 

Oh yeah, our parents grounded us for six months after we got back for sneaking out and running off to some island. At least that gave me a good excuse for not wanting to go out on dates with all these girls – and not seem like a pretentious jerk. So, Tiana and I spent our fourteenth birthdays just the two of us. Don’t get the wrong idea, though: there was no kissing going down, despite what Granny will tell you.

 

Let me guess? You want to know what we got each other. Well, Tiana bought me a new sketchbook with a giant set of pencils. I got her a couple of books. One was about this boy with some serum running through him as him and a girl he meets try to survive this crazy dangerous jungle. The other was a contemporary novel about standardized testing with apparently very vibrant characters. She loved both of them.

 

Another thing was that I started drawing a lot more things in my new sketchbook. Sure, my forte is still architecture, but I drew a lot of the creatures from the isle and gave them names. I also drew some clothing ideas for the wedding, which brings me to my next point.

 

After Cory and my mom met, they really hit it off. Of course, they didn’t actually start going out until like, two months ago. They started out as friends, my mom helping him cope with losing his wife. Eventually, they got together (which I was psyched for since we had a kind of bond after the journey on the isle) and now, I was at their wedding reception.

 

It was a beautiful place. Cory opted for a Star Wars themed wedding, but Mom objected to that. The tables were outdoors under some trees, with some delicate flower and light arrangements – that Tiana carefully put together – on top of the white tablecloths. The dance floor was under a large gazebo that where lights were intricately hung from the ceiling.

 

My mom and Cory – or Dad now, I guess, I’d have to get used to that – had finished their dance. (Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper – both of their favorite songs in high school.) Now, everyone was slow dancing to Perfect by Ed Sheeran.

 

I glanced over at Tiana. She looked beautiful in her dress. It was blue with a tulle skirt, and blue and white flowers covering the bodice.

 

It’s now or never, I thought.

 

I walked over to her and cleared my throat, “Tiana?”

 

She turned around grinning. “Yeah?”

 

“Hey. Um, the wedding’s nice, right?” I pointed to the lights hanging from the gazebo ceiling. “Do you want to, um…do you want to like…you know? Like, just you and me?” I stuttered out, rubbing my neck.

 

“Are you trying to ask me to dance, Evan?” She replied, spreading her grin even further.

 

“No, of course not. Unless you want to.” I scooted closer to her.

 

“Come on.” Tiana grabbed my arm and pulled me out to the dance floor where I could see Caleb dancing with Ava Hathaway, a third grader from the elementary school.

 

Tiana wrapped her arms around my neck and I wrapped mine around her waist. We just kind of moved along to the music, staring at each other. Eventually, I started to feel the space between us growing smaller and smaller.

 

Just go for it, I told myself, knowing exactly what was going to happen next.

 

We continued to lean in until our lips met. I’m not going to go into all this detail about it because honestly, it felt like it only lasted a second before we pulled away from each other.

 

Tiana grinned at me, her face red and I grinned right back at her, sure that my face was just as red as hers. We stared at each other a little while longer until we ended up with our foreheads pressed together as we kept dancing.

 

Well, it looks like our story ends here. And I know, some of you will be fine with how this story ended, and some of you will be screaming at your books or screens or however you’re reading this story. I can assure you that everything turned out great, sure there were some bumps along the road, but all in all, everything turned out pretty well.

 

Evan out.

 

Hold on, hold on, Tiana is behind me and is telling me to stop breaking the fourth wall with this so uh…everything was-

 

No? Not good enough?

 

Okay, um…I know!

 

And we lived happily ever after.

 

THE END.

 

 

mods please let this through!

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Branch: Ekaterina

Books Mentioned/Referenced

 

·       A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Miserable Mill by Lemony Snicket

·       A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

·       Because of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea

·       Boy X by Dan Smith

·       Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson Haddix

·       Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

·       Masterminds by Gordon Korman

·       Masterminds: Criminal Destiny by Gordon Korman

·       Masterminds: Payback by Gordon Korman

·       Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

·       Story Thieves by James Riley

·       The Explorers: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne Kress

·       The Perfect Score by Rob Buyea

·       This Book Will Not Be Fun by Cirocco Dunlap

·       Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

·       When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

·       Wonder by R.J. Palacio

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Lucy

 

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

Bumping this for no good reason

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Lucy

 

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butterflyamber887

Branch: Lucian

I would love to read all your stories but I have no time! Maybe I'll come back when I'm a gramma in the nursing home...

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 BRACHA

 

 wandering

 

 

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds 

                                                                                                                              

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agentclue77

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Bracha-

 

Lol it’s okay. Maybe someday

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dogyellow583

Branch: Ekaterina

I just read up until chapter 16 but now I'm hungry so I should probably go get food. o_o I like iiiiiit, are you posting more???

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       christy ~ i'm scared for you. freaking out. i want to just know you're okay... alive...~

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agentclue77

Branch: Ekaterina

Christy-

 

Thank you. Actually, twenty’s the last chapter, it wraps up there

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dogyellow583

Branch: Ekaterina

Ahh. Like I said, haven't read the entire thing quite yet. Sorry about that.

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       christy ~ i'm scared for you. freaking out. i want to just know you're okay... alive...~

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agentclue77

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Oh, it’s okay

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It's all an adventure

That comes with a breathtaking view