Here, from Jeremy C. (age 9) is one of the many, many delightful stories we received in response to Jamin Still‘s Illustrative Writing Prompt. Enjoy!
In a large house by the seaside there lived seven children. One particular day, when their parents would not take them to the beach, Robert, fifteen, said to his fourteen-year old sister, Emily, “Hullo, there’s a new ship in harbor!”
“What’s so exciting about it?” retorted his eight-year-old sister, Polly.
“Don’t you dare talk to him like that or I’ll box your ears!” cried out Edmund, who was twelve.
“No, you shan’t,” said Robert, “and if you want to see, Polly, come here and look.”
They all came and looked and then they saw. “Golly,” said John and James. They were ten-year-old twins. It really was a ‘golly’. It had a tangerine colored sail, with a yellow sun in the center of it, and a peacock‘s head, with green painted feathers on the sides. There was no one on it, no one at all.
“Let’s go and look,” suggested Robert. They went out the door, and hurried to the harbor. As they neared the ship, a strange magical power filled them. They knew it was a magical power because it was drawing them closer, closer, closer and they had a strong urge to board the ship. So they did. The second they were on, the wind filled the sail and they sailed away. The wind picked up more and more. The sea was soon rather choppy. Robert told the rest of the children to go below, but asked Emily to remain on deck with him.
“Go to the prow, Emily, and see if you can see land,” he called out to be heard over the noise of the waves and wind.
“Nothing in sight,” said Emily.
“Go below then and see if there is anything to eat.”
Emily obeyed and after a second called, “Lots of food!”
While Robert was alone on deck, he heard something. He looked around and lo and behold, there was the great peacock’s head turning and speaking to him. “Son of the creature called Man, you are to go on a quest to rescue a pair of Bubbalas.”
“What are Bubbalas?” interrupted Robert.
“Creatures that have two heads, a pair of horns on one of the heads. One head is for eating by the way, and the other for talking, for they are polite creatures.”
“Why do they need rescuing?”
“They need rescuing because unkind Centaurs are after them to kill them and they are the only two Bubbalas left in the world.”
“All right,” said Robert, “but I need the directions, please.”
“Hidden in the cabin is a slip of paper in a dish labeled ‘Canned Beef.’ On that piece of paper will be the directions. Now I must stop talking for the others might return.”
Robert called to Emily to come take the wheel. Emily took it. Robert went down and got the paper. They sailed all night and in the morning were anchored by the island the Bubbalas were on. They got off, waded ashore, and on the beach was a pile of weapons. There were five swords with sheaths, which the boys strapped on, a pair of bows and arrows, and lastly five shields. The girls picked up the bows and arrows.
“Come on,” said Robert, “Let’s explore the island.” They made a quick round and close to where they had started from, they found a cave. There was a small wooden door at the entrance to it. They knocked at this door to see what would happen. A voice from inside the cave said, “Who is it? Who is knocking at our door?”
Peter answered before Robert had time to say anything. “I don’t mean to be rude, but could you please tell us who you are?”
“We,” said the voice from inside, “are the only two remaining Bubbalas in the world!”
“Would you please let us in, then?” said Robert. “For we are on a quest to protect you.”
The Bubbala who had been speaking let them in and introduced himself. “My name is Snufflegrunt and my older sister’s name is Babblegrunt. Would you like to have some tea?”
As the Bubbalas showed them to their places, they heard hooves outside. All of a sudden, the door came crashing down. Ten Centaurs burst through the opening and charged straight at Snufflegrunt and Babblegrunt, five of them at each Bubbala. Robert and the rest of the boys dashed for their swords, which they had hung up by the entrance, while Emily and Polly, who thankfully knew how to shoot a bow, got their bows and arrows. The children were soon in the midst of the battle and Robert, seeing that two Centaurs were about to charge at Snufflegrunt with their horns, jumped in front of them with his sword drawn. Even though he had never been in a battle before, he killed both of them in very little time at all. Emily, Edmund, and the rest of them were having the same good luck. In less than half an hour, the Centaurs had all been banished to the evil fate of death.
Babblegrunt and Snufflegrunt helped the children clean up and then they all settled down to have their tea. When they had thanked the Bubbalas and were about to walk back to their ship, Snufflegrunt asked, “Wouldn’t you like to go home without going on a ship? Go up our chimney and about halfway up there is a little door in it. Open the door to find a chute. Before you slide down the chute, speak and say where you live.”
The children did what the Bubbalas had said. With Robert in the lead and Emily last, the children slid down the chute. They popped out from their own chimney in their living room. As they got settled on the sofas, their mother came in and said, “How good you’ve been today! Tomorrow, I’ll take you to the harbor to see the boats.”
“You know, Mother,” said Peter mischievously, “I think we might be tired of boats.”
He occasionally blogs at jamesdwitmer.com or @jamesdwitmer, spends his free time digging in the garden with his wife, and is pleasantly surprised to find that loving his family makes meaningful change in the world.