Want to keep reading?

You've reached the end of your complimentary access. Subscribe for as little as $4/month.

Aready a Subscriber ? Sign In

Ava Shorten

You can read the first installment of Hannah’s novella, which placed third in our 2019 book contest, in the April 2020 issue of Stone Soup. The final installment will appear in our June 2020 issue.

CHARACTERS – In order of appearance

ELANA (Uh-LAY-nuh) A young furow girl who is the Chosen One
MS. SMIT Elana’s science teacher, who later reveals a secret identity
HENRY A tiny, green-haired fairy who guides Elana
CASEY FLUMPTON An evil rock star and Elana’s mortal enemy
TWEETLE and TWOOTLE Casey’s messengers
TOONA A Neptune devil
MRS. RICHARD Elana’s writing teacher
MOM, DAD, MARY, DAISY, JOHN, FIONA, and EDGAR Elana’s family
SWEET, CHOCOLAT TREAT, COCO SCELERISQUE, and VANILLE GLAÇAGE Gingerbread workers in the Palace of Honey
GALETTA A snappy owner at a bakery in Sugar Top
BUBBLES, GUMMER, LICORE, and CHOCO Workers at the Background Theater
SPOTS Coco’s pet dog
PRANKSTER Vanille’s pet cat
HALLOWEEN and EASTER Bubbles’s pets
FILLINUS The ambassador of light
HAU’OLI A girl who befriends Elana in Casey’s palace
PHILADELPHIA Hau’oli’s pet rat
CAPTAIN HAWKINS The police chief
MR. REMY and MR. SAGARD Two police officers

VI (continued): The Background Theater

At the end of the hallway was a theater, but without any seats for an audience. Instead, on stage, everybody was creating beautiful sets. There was everything from fancy houses to beautiful landmarks and unforgettable natural scenes. Elana stood amazed. She had never seen such beautiful backdrops! She looked at Henry, smiling, then noticed that Henry looked completely dazed and unresponsive, which puzzled Elana. What was wrong?

Suddenly, all the gingerbread artists scurried over to Henry. “Henry’s sick!” one of them cried out in despair.

During the commotion, Elana had wandered over to the sets. Suddenly, there was a deafening crash. To Elana’s horror, she had spilled a paint bucket onto a drying masterpiece! Everyone’s attention suddenly turned to Elana. She turned red.

What are they going to do to me? Elana thought to herself. Just then, an angry gingerbread confronted her.

“What did you do to my masterpiece?” he shrieked. Elana looked at Henry helplessly. She wished Henry would help her. She was confused

What happened to Henry? What was going to happen? Will I ever get back into the cozy hotel room? What am I going to say? Elana thought frantically.

Then she thought about the Palace of Honey. She thought about how everybody there knew Henry. Even a gingerbread here had cried, “Henry’s sick!” Suddenly, a plan formed in her mind.

“I’m friends with Henry,” she shouted.

“You’re friends with—?” the gingerbread man started.

“Henry,” Elana finished. Everyone just stared.

“I really am!” Elana continued.

“What’s your name?” A gingerbread woman asked.

“Elana,” Elana said. Everyone gaped at her. “Uh-” Elana paused. “What’s the big deal?”

“Well, the Chosen One is Elana,” said a slim gingerbread man with a fake smile, “but I had no idea she was such a cute little chubby-cheeker.”

“Well, that’s me,” Elana admitted, ignoring the gingerbread man’s name-calling. What is he talking about? Elana thought to herself. I don’t even have chubby cheeks!

“So you’re the one that Henry was talking about!” said the angry gingerbread with the wrecked masterpiece, who suddenly seemed more friendly.

“So, what’s your name?” Elana asked the gingerbread, changing the subject.

“Gummy, but call me Gummer—I like that better.”

“Bubblegum. Bubbles for short,” a gingerbread woman said.

“Licore,” another gingerbread man introduced himself.

“Choco,” (pronouncing it Choe-coe) the slim gingerbread said, then chuckled and added, “you cute little chubby itsy-poo!”

Elana tried not to glare at Choco, because she felt awfully annoyed. She quickly felt better when Bubbles gave her an I-know-how-you-feel face and understanding nod.

“Is that all?” Elana asked.

“Yes, Coochi-poo,” answered Choco. Elana was burning with annoyance. She was sick and tired of being called names and so confused by what was happening to Henry. She felt like shouting out to Choco how horrible she thought he was—you skinny, fake-smiling, name-calling cookie!—but she knew it wasn’t right. Her mind was bursting with words that she could use to describe Choco. Instead, she took a deep breath and inquired, “Henry’s sick, right?”

“I don’t know, Itsy-pie,” Choco replied, handing her a book. “This book is about paint-fainting. Read page 57 and tell us if anything is helpful.”

VII: Curing Henry

Elana took the book from Choco’s hands. Then she flipped to page 57. After that, she began to read to herself.


The paint-fainting sickness is caused by a chemical in heavy frosting paints; it is called Europitha (EErope-ee-tha). Europitha can cause fairies to become entranced and then faint after smelling the paint at least five times. The Europitha is deadly for all fairies. A chemical in fairies’ stomachs called Nishto (NISHE-too), interferes with the Europitha and makes a deadly gas.

Scientists are trying to figure out why the gas makes the fairies faint, but the mystery still hasn’t been solved yet.

Elana looked up from the book. “Done,” she said as she rubbed her finger on a page.

“Find anything useful?” Choco inquired.

“Fairies have Nisht-” Elana started.

“Yeah, yeah,” Choco interrupted. “That’s what I thought. Read page 58 and tell me something important.”

Elana wondered why he had said “tell me something important,” not “tell us something important,” but she obeyed Choco’s orders.


Curing the paint-fainting sickness is a very hard job. There are 53 steps in all! This is the easy way to use in case of emergency.

  1. Cover your patient with a handkerchief.
  2. Touch his or her throat lightly and then check pulse.
  3. Rub his or her stomach gently and pat his or her head.
  4. Pat his or her right thigh gently, then the left.

WARNING: Don’t cradle your patient during the operation. If needed, put your patient on a table to help them balance.

“Done,” Elana whispered, because Licore had fallen asleep due to boredom.

“Good, Choochie,” Choco whispered back. “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”

Elana gritted her teeth. I thought you would stop calling me names, Elana thought. I’m in fourth grade, you know. Or maybe you don’t know.

“I can do it myself,” Elana said, folding her arms.

“Fine, Chubby-poo,” Choco said carelessly.

“Where are the handkerchiefs?” Elana questioned.

“What!?!? It’s not the 1950s,” snorted Choco, who very much disliked old-fashioned customs.

“Handkerchiefs were common in the 1800s through 1900s,” Elana pointed out.

She’ll probably win a million dollars on Sugar Top’s Got Talent for arguing, Choco thought.

“Okay, you’re right, Coochie Cutey,” he responded in a you-may-think-you’re-smart-but-I’ll-get-you-back-soon tone of voice.

“The handkerchiefs are in the cabinet to your right,” Bubbles volunteered helpfully.

Elana walked toward the cabinet hidden on the side of the stage. She pulled a handkerchief from the top drawer and returned to where everyone was waiting. Elana took one quick glance at the book, then began to wrap Henry up in the handkerchief. Then, after touching Henry’s throat and checking her pulse, Elana carefully rubbed Henry’s stomach and patted her head. Finally, Elana gently rubbed Henry’s right thigh and then her left. Henry’s eyes flickered open.

“Elana did it!” Bubbles cheered in a singsong. “ELANA DID IT! ELANA, ELANA DID IT! SHE-E CURED HENRY. WA-AY TO GO. WHO-HOO-HOOHOO-HOO-HOO!”

And of course, Licore woke up from Bubbles’s cheering.

“Whoohoo!” Gummer cheered.

Henry took one quick glance at the book Elana had read to cure her, and she began to cheer.

Finally, Bubbles collapsed to the ground in exhaustion. Licore panted. Henry perched on Elana’s shoulder, too tired to fly.

“Con-grats, Choo-chie P-ooo,” Choco gasped.

“I think . . . it’s time . . . to go home!” Henry suggested.

All the gingerbread nodded; their work was done for the day. Elana and Henry walked slowly out the theater door with the gingerbread dragging behind them. When they got to the EMPLOYEES ONLY door, no one even noticed the hole Elana had made.

Gingerbread recruiting would have to wait until the next day.

VIII: Collecting an Army

When Elana awoke, she quickly remembered what had happened the previous day. Elana quietly got dressed and brushed her teeth. But, of course, Henry woke up. Once Henry was ready to start her day, Elana asked her what they were going to do that day.

“Oh, we’re going to collect our army,” Henry replied.

“Can we at least eat first?” Elana wailed. “We haven’t had breakfast since the day you declared I was the Chosen One! Yesterday, all I had were snacks, and the only meal we had since we got here was dinner at the bakery!”

“Can’t you see that gingerbread don’t really have meals?” Henry asked in a haven’t-you-noticed-that-before type of voice. “They do have lunch, mostly as a break from work, but other than that they just snack. After all, their food is everywhere. In fact, in fights, they just attack by eating. Winning a fight means that they have devoured their opponent.”

“Are you telling the truth?” Elana asked suspiciously. “Or are you just making it up? Joking—that’s what I meant. Not, uh, lying.”

“No,” Henry said with a scowl. “I’m not a liar.” She was feeling a lot more irritable than usual today, after her ordeal with the paint-fainting sickness.

“No, I didn’t say that,” Elana protested. Then she added, “Can we just go?” forgetting about her hunger.

“Obviously not,” Henry answered through her gritted teeth. “You just called me a liar.”

“I didn’t say that, okay?” Elana argued, “I didn’t. I was just asking you if you were joking or not.”

Henry cleared her throat, then began. “I don’t lie. It’s true. I know that you don’t believe me, though, because of what you said.”

“I admit that I didn’t believe you,” Elana confessed. “But let’s not argue about it now.”

“Okay,” Henry sighed. “But you said you didn’t believe me,” she said in an it-was-all-your-fault singsong voice.

“Okay, let’s go back to the theater and recruit our gingerbread,” Elana said impatiently. Then she added, “The microphone is waiting for us; it would be marvelous to sing in the theater! Oh, how fantastic it would be if they never ran out of popcorn. Oh, Henry, you could be my harmony singer and—”

“Elana Jones Garfield,” Henry snapped. “Stop dreaming right now because we’re here to recruit an army, OKAY?!” Elana was surprised by this rude response; only her mom called her by her middle name, and only when she was mad. Elana disliked the name a lot because, in her opinion, it sounded like a boy’s name.

“Okay,” Elana sighed while continuing to think about her imaginary scenario.

“Oh, the microphone is waiting for us,” Henry mocked.

“Grow up,” Elana grumbled as she opened the door.


Elana knocked on the doors of the Palace of Honey. No one answered. Elana looked at Henry.

“Oh, drat,” Henry moaned. “The Palace of Honey opens at 9:00. We’ll have to wait 30 minutes.”

“While we wait, I have a quick question. Are you—” Elana started, then paused. “Are you Ms. Smit?”

“No,” Henry replied. “I’ll tell you the story. No; instead, read this.” Henry waved her wand and created a book out of thin air and gave it to Elana. It was a beautiful book, silver with golden letters. It read:

Confusion, A True Story: How to Figure Out if a Person is a Transformed Fairy
By: Henry Wings


A rotting log that is left alone turns into a Hallucinator. Hallucinators are a very rare species. They resemble grown-up women and men furrows regular furow jobs in the city.

Hallucinators can make people hallucinate by staring directly into their eyes. Hallucinators can die very quickly, though. With just a tiny shock or illness, they literally begin to shrink and fade away. They slowly become smaller and more transparent until they’re gone. The bigger the shock, or the worse the illness, the faster they will fade. In rare cases, they will blow up in a burst of smoke. I knew a Hallucinator who was the mother of my enemy, Casey.

It all started with a mission to protect the world from Casey and her mom. The story about Casey’s mom is going to be told right now. Sit back and enjoy! Hope you like it . . .


One morning at 5:00 e.m., a 16-yearold girl named Casey Flumpton woke up with her mom, Lila Flumpton. They were on a long, evil mission that had to do, well, mostly with me.

The girl and her mom set off through the woods. Then they stopped at a small, green cottage that happened to be my cottage. They quietly snuck through the front door because they knew that I never lock my door. (I don’t lock it because my friend, the Tooth Fairy, always comes through the front door so I can help her collect teeth and deliver money to kids.

Unfortunately, I was not at home. Casey and Lila looked through my diary and saw that I wrote about how to fi nd the Chosen One. They snuck away, and Lila walked to work at a school called the School of Intelligence. She was disguised as a science teacher: Ms. Smit. There, she looked for the Chosen One and put hallucinations on some kids.

That day, in “Ms. Smit’s” class, a student named Elana seemed to know everything about the new subject, electricity. Almost a year ago, in my diary, I wrote that my friends and I wanted the Chosen One’s name to be Elana. The Chosen One would be able to control powers, be kind, and be willing to help. Well, maybe with a bit of convincing.

On that day, to Ms. Smit’s great surprise, Elana didn’t budge from her seat when the bell rang. The surprise was enough of a shock to make Ms. Smit fade a little.

Then, Ms. Smit made a plan and decided to give Elana an iPad. She told her to type the emojis she liked the most. Elana did, and right after that, Ms. Smit had such a shock that she blew up and disappeared, leaving no trace behind. The emojis Elana typed were the exact same emojis that my diary said the Chosen One would choose: 💡🕯️🎤📡☀️😈🧚‍♀️👿🎇🎆⚡💀🌝🎭

So, after Ms. Smit was gone, I decided to take her place.

“Stop there, Elana,” Henry instructed. Elana stopped.

“I like your, uh, story,” Elana lied. She didn’t like it at all; it had more than enough private information. Plus, Henry had forgotten all of her tabs.

“C’mon, that’s what everyone says,” Henry complained. “But I know the truth because I can read thoughts.” She tapped her temple.

At first, Elana had liked the thought that her companion could read minds, but now it was just too creepy. She needed to have some private thoughts. Elana quickly stopped herself from thinking about the topic any longer, because Henry was giving her a criticizing look.

Just then, out of nowhere, all the workers of the Palace of Honey began to march inside. When Henry saw Kāleka, she told her to round up all of the gingerbread that worked in the Hall of Honey.

A few minutes later, Kāleka returned with all the Hall of Honey workers trailing behind her. All of them looked at Henry, still and quiet, like she was going to tell them something that would change their lives—and that was exactly what Henry did.

“Would you, uh, like to fight, uh, Casey with me?” Henry asked.

The gingerbread stared at her like she was nuts.

“What do ya’ mean?” Mel Limbum asked.

“I mean . . .” Henry started, then continued by explaining the story of how they were searching for Casey.

“Uh, yeah . . .” the gingerbread mumbled in a wave of unsure voices.

“C’mon, Mel,” Henry snapped. “I can read minds, and I can tell that you’re lying.”

“Okay, okay,” admitted Mel. “But if I or anyone gets hurt, you’re the one to blame.”

“Well, no one will,” Henry snapped. “And if anyone does, I have a healing potion that can heal and mend up to infinity furows and gingerbread.”

Elana heard some sarcasm in Henry’s voice, but no one else seemed to have noticed it. Also, Henry made “infinity” sound like a number, which it isn’t.

Thankfully, Elana got some distance from Henry because she got pushed away by the gingerbread. Henry couldn’t read her mind, but she was close enough that Elana could still hear what she was saying. As Elana walked back to the group, she decided that by reading minds, Henry was teaching Elana not to lie or say bad stuff about people.

“Any questions?” Henry asked.

“May I bring my dog?” Coco asked. “His name is Spots. I got him from a different place in Neptune, so he’s not made out of chocolate or something like that. Also, he’s really good at sniffing and catching smells. I even taught him not to eat chocolate if he sees it! Chocolate is deadly for dogs, after all.”

“You may take Spots,” Henry sighed.

“Yay!” Coco cheered.

“Oohh,” Vanille cooed. “Can I bring my cat, Prankster? I taught him whom he should trust and whom he shouldn’t trust—”

“My dog was born with that ability, silly,” Coco bragged.

“Well, Prankster can also play the piano.”

“So what?” Coco snorted. “Spots can play the recorder, flute, and the violin. Do you think Prankster has enough patience for that?”

“I’m not finished yet. Prankster can climb a tree–”

“All cats can do that.”

“And get down!” Vanille snapped, ignoring Coco’s comment.


Everyone covered their ears, so Elana did too. She felt a bit annoyed the two gingerbread kept arguing about some silly stuff that didn’t matter.







“NO, I’M NOT!” Vanille screeched.

“GUYS!” Henry interrupted. “I’ll let both of you bring your pets, but only if you don’t argue. Now let’s go get our microphone.”

The group followed Henry while Vanille and Coco, glaring daggers at each other, walked home to get their pets.


“Guys, are you ready to join our microphone?1 Henry asked.

Elana snorted.

“YES!” Al l the gingerbread answered immediately.

“Do you all have any questions?” Elana added. She liked the idea of having pets during the trip. Unfortunately, Henry didn’t.

“May I also bring a pet?” Bubbles asked. “Or actually, two pets? Their names are Halloween and Easter!”

“What kind of pets are they?” Henry asked suspiciously.

“A dragon and a—”

“A dragon!?” Henry interrupted.

“It’s friendly!” Bubbles shouted over Henry’s screaming “Here, I’ll call it. Tweeeeeet!!!”

A huge dragon appeared from the skies and bowed to Henry.

“Do you need any help?” the dragon boomed. “I am Halloween. But I’m not named Halloween because I look scary. I am named Halloween because I brought all the broccoli to the children who lost theirs on Halloween.”

As soon as Henry heard this, she began to pet the dragon.

“Ah-choo!” The dragon sneezed. “I’m allergic t-to pixie dust! Ah-choo!

“Oh, sorry” Henry replied, removing her hand and backing away slowly. “Didn’t realize.”

“May I go get Easter, my chick that won the grand prize at Easter for finding the most eggs?” Bubbles inquired.

“Yes, yes, of course,” Henry replied.

Once Bubbles left, Henry explained how grown-up gingerbread like to be young so much that they try to act childish themselves. Also, they are known as the best pet trainers in the galaxy.

“I already know that,” Elana replied. “That’s all Ms. Smit would talk about when we were studying pets.” Just then, Vanille and Coco returned with their pets and a small sign each. Coco’s sign was in neat handwriting that said:

Dogs are the best pets in the world! They treat you like children, which we gingerbread love. Don’t get cats—they just sleep.

Elana looked at Vanille’s sign, which said:

Cats are the absolute best pets in the world! They’re quiet and sweet—not yappy, barky, and loud like dogs.

“Henry,” Elana whispered, “come see Vanille’s and Coco’s posters!”

Henry, who was looking at a set in the Background Theater, spun around and gasped.

“Stop it! Prankster and Spots are both great pets, but if you fight one more time, I’ll take them away!” Henry shouted.

Just then, Bubbles arrived with Easter. “We’re all ready! Let’s go!” Elana shouted happily.

Suddenly, everything in Sugar Top went dark. “Casey’s nearby!” Henry warned. Everyone froze in fear.

IX: The Surprise

“We need to attack!” Elana yelled desperately.

“We don’t have enough wires for the microphone!”2 Henry shouted back.

The wind, once calm, began to howl furiously; Elana thought that it was a hurricane. Rain lashed and thunder boomed. Then lightning flashed, but it wasn’t your typical lightning. It was a lightning that could blind furrows and put them under an awful spell if they looked directly at it.

Elana, who was looking at the ground, could see that a message was forming on it. The lightning cast a mark right in front of her eyes. The words looked like this:


“We have to do something!” Elana shouted, blinking a couple of times as her eyes adjusted to the dark.

“Get into the boat!” Henry shouted back. “The little rowboat on the pier. Block Casey’s lightning attack! Block it with your hands! Row out to sea. Talk to Casey. Be careful about what you think. Remember, she can hear minds from a mile away!”

Elana followed Henry’s orders, raced to the pier, and grabbed the only rowboat, but she didn’t see any oars around. Suddenly, a bald eagle swooped down.

“Stand up facing the wrong way,” the bald eagle screeched. “By the way, I’m Fillinus, the ambassador of light. Call me when you need me!”

Fillinus flew away, leaving Elana even more puzzled.

Facing the wrong way, Elana thought. The wrong way? Hmmm. Tricky. Wait! I got it! Stand up on the boat facing the opposite way that you do when rowing a boat!

Elana did exactly that, and a path of light lit up in front of her.

“Move it!” Elana yelled, kicking the boat in frustration. But the boat didn’t move.

“Oh, that ambassador,” Elana muttered. “He’s such a birdbrain. I thought he was supposed to be the ambassador of light . . .”

At the word “light,” the boat swiftly started to move through the path of light. Lightning flashed in Elana’s direction, and she blocked it with her hands. Suddenly, the sky erupted with light. Elana suspected the ambassador had done that.

“Oh, Fillinus!” Elana smiled gleefully. “He is so smart. Now, when I call someone a birdbrain, it’ll mean that they’re smart. I like this path of light. It guides me through the dark—”

The boat abruptly stopped.

“Uh, light!” Elana shouted, and the boat continued along the path. Elana smiled. She felt like she was gliding toward a place that was unknown.

“Go, Elana!” a voice cheered. Elana spun around and saw Henry and the gingerbread. She waved goodbye as her boat headed away.

“We’re blinded by the lightning!” Henry called and Elana froze, reminding herself that Neptune depended on her.

“Faster!” Elana shouted, but the boat didn’t change its speed. “No—lighter, lighter, lighter, lighter, lighter, lighter, lighter!” The boat went faster and faster as she spoke.

“Darker!” Elana shouted over the rushing wind. The boat slowed a bit.

Elana looked ahead and saw the path of light came to an end at a tiny island.

“Slower! I mean darker!” Elana yelled “Darker, darker, darker, darker, darker, darker!”

The boat stopped at the small island, and Elana climbed out. The island had a wall around it and only a tiny patch of grass around the wall.

It was much brighter here than any other place Elana had seen or been. This must be Casey’s house, she thought.

The wall was coated in pink, with high castle turrets and only blue skies above. Elana clasped her hands together; she was excited to explore the castle. Then, she felt a spark between her two hands. Elana looked down at them.

To her surprise, her hands were holding a lightning rope. Then, she had an idea . . .

X: The Break-In

Elana swung the lightning rope under a loose stone on the castle wall and began to silently climb up. The rope was sturdy, and while she was holding on to it, she felt like she was climbing up to the heavens.

When she finally reached the top, the view was magnificent. There was sea as far as the eye could see. Sugar Top was a tiny speck in the distance. Elana dug her hand in her pocket and was pleasantly surprised to find there was a sandwich and a piece of cookie in it. She didn’t realize how hungry she had been and ate them while enjoying the view. Once finished, she swung down the lightning rope and climbed down, landing on a patch of grass right behind a moat.

Elana wondered how she could break into the castle. She finally decided to swim.

Elana, unfortunately, did not have a bathing suit, so she gathered a bunch of lightning rope and began to weave one. Then she made a sack so she could carry her normal clothes. Elana looked up at the lightning rope on the wall. She didn’t want anyone to catch her, and the rope was plain evidence that she had been there.

She quickly changed into her bathing suit, put her old clothes into the bag, and tied the lightning rope around it, sealing it closed. Then, trying not to make a big splash, she slipped into the water.

Elana wished she had brought goggles since she couldn’t see a thing with her eyes closed; plus, she kept bumping into patches of seaweed. When she came to the surface to breathe, she saw a crocodile a couple of feet away. It was enormous, and Elana dived back into the water, so scared that she forgot to shut her eyes. Her eyes stung in the murky water

Suddenly, a bright yellow light came from her eyes and blocked out the water. Elana was shocked, but then remembered the story Henry asked her to read. She realized that the yellow light was one of the powers Henry had given her! It felt like someone had fastened yellow goggles on her eyes.

Elana could still see the crocodile. It was even closer now, and it was ready to strike. She swam her fastest (and splashiest) stroke: freestyle. Elana’s arms were working faster than ever. When Elana got to the other side of the moat, she climbed on shore as fast as she could, ran to the side of the castle, and changed her clothes. When she was done, she stuffed her bathing suit into her bag.

Now, Elana thought, comes the tricky part.

Elana saw an open window. She slowly crept toward it and peered inside the room while hanging outside the window, keeping herself covered. There was a small desk, a chair, and a bed inside.

“BOO!” Two little boys jumped out of a small closet, looking around the room suspiciously.

“I thought I heard Casey coming,” one of them whined.

“Yeah, Twootle. Me too,” the other boy replied.

These must be Tweetle and Twootle, Casey’s messengers, Elana thought. I wonder how I’ll get inside.

Elana was thinking so hard about how to get inside that she didn’t hear Twootle remark, “Maybe she’s under the window.”

Tweetle and Twootle walked over to the window. When they saw Elana, they yelled in unison: “INTRUDER!”

Elana needed to think of a plan, and quick. One soon formed in her mind. She stood up.

“Hello!” she said in a pleasant voice.

“Are you Nostril Spit?” Tweetle asked.

Elana didn’t like the name very much, but she had to get inside as fast as she could.

“No,” she blurted out nervously, realizing soon after that she should have said “yes.”

“Casey calls you Nostril Spit because your boogers look like spit,” Tweetle explained. Twootle clamped his hand over Tweetle’s mouth.

“We’re not supposed to tell her that, Bigmouth,” Twootle hissed. He uncovered Tweetle’s mouth.

“So you must be Maryell,” Tweetle corrected, smiling his biggest, cheesiest smile.

“Blackbird singing in the dead of night,” Twootle sang.

“Why do you sing that song when I smile?” Tweetle questioned.

“Because your smile’s cheesy, and blackbirds are cheesy,” Twootle replied. “For example, blackbirds eat beetles, and beetles made that song.”

“It’s ‘The Beatles,’” Elana muttered, “B-E-A-T-L-E-S.” She was confused and exasperated by their silly dialogue.

“Oh,” Tweetle and Twootle commented, not really listening.

“And yes,” Elana continued, remembering what Tweetle had assumed, “I’m Maryell.”

“Okay, c’mon in then,” Tweetle exclaimed. “Jump in through the window!”

Elana slowly climbed through the window. Inside, it was hot and humid.

“Casey’s waiting for you in the dining room,” Tweetle explained. “You’re a bit late to see her.”

Elana was glad that the twins had not noticed her red hair. They might have figured out that she was trying to stop Casey from stealing all of the world’s light. When Elana exited the room, the air was very fresh and crisp, just like in Sugar Top.

Casey was lying lazily on the couch.

“You’re late,” she bellowed in a monotone voice when she heard Elana’s footsteps.

“I would like to request—” Elana started, but was interrupted.

Casey glanced at Elana and started to yell orders. “INTRUDER! Someone get her into the dungeon!”

Tweetle and Twootle ran right up to Elana and grabbed her by the arms. They didn’t even stop to ask why Casey was putting “Maryell” in jail.

Elana tried to stay put, but the twins began to pull her, and they were surprisingly strong. They were able to handcuff her and drag her down, down, down the stairs until they reached a cramped cell filled with Elana’s friends, including Henry, plus some gingerbread and animals she recognized. She was surprised to see them, but figured Casey had managed to capture them.

Twootle grabbed a key from his pocket and unlocked a lock on the side of the cell. He opened the door and pushed Elana inside. After locking the door, he carelessly threw the key onto the floor, and then Tweetle and Twootle walked up the stairs arguing about putting “Maryell” in the cell.

XI: Breaking Out

Elana looked at everyone who had been captured by Casey. They were weak, tired, and hungry. Elana started to get hungry too.

“Let’s get outta here,” she whispered to them all.

Henry, the gingerbread, and animals looked up at her.

“No!” Henry responded. “I want to stay here.”

Everyone else murmured in agreement.

“But, but . . .” Elana stuttered in confusion.

The ambassador of light gave her a please-we-don’t-want-to-go face. Elana looked at all of her friends. Had they been hypnotized? she wondered. Yes, that must be it! It had to be. It’s the only way they would want to stay in Casey’s cell. Elana came to the grim conclusion that now she was on her own.

But Elana had never really been on her own. Yeah, she had gone on the boat by herself, but that was for a short period of time. Plus, the ambassador of light must have been leading her the whole way.

Elana noticed that she was the only one with handcuffs. And she realized no one else was willing to open the lock because they were under Casey’s spell! Then Elana had an idea. She remembered how she had used her lightning rope to climb the wall. She wondered if she could make two lightning ropes at a time. She tried clasping her hands together like people do when they plead, so she could make some rope appear again. It worked! One rope sprung from each hand. With some difficulty, Elana used her mouth to make a loop around each of her handcuffs, then tied the knots as strongly as she could at each end.

She lifted her hands so that the other end of the ropes went into her mouth. She bit the ropes tightly and then pulled her hands away, jerking them back as hard as she could. Elana thought that her teeth would fall out, and then, SNAP! The rope had so much magical strength that the force broke the handcuffs from Elana’s hands. She was free!

Ignoring her sore wrists and teeth, Elana reached through the bars to grab the key. When Elana’s friends realized what she was doing, they all began to pull her wrists to hold her back. Elana tried to kick everyone, but then remembered they were still her friends; they were just under Casey’s orders. Elana knew the key was just outside her cell, so all she needed to do was keep reaching her hand out.

Elana pushed her arm forward while the others tried to pull it backward, but she was finally able to grasp the key. The force was so strong, Elana couldn’t take it much longer. The key slipped out of her fingers and fell to the floor. Her friends gave each other high fives, and some even stood up to do a jig.

Maybe if she distracted her friends, she could get the key. She noticed they were all blind from the lightning, except for the ambassador of light. When she saw a mouse scurrying inside the cell, Elana knew this was her chance.

“Ambassador!” she yelled. “There’s a mouse over there!”

The ambassador’s stomach began to rumble since he was very hungry. He began to eat the mouse she had found; she knew that this might be her only chance to escape. Quickly and quietly, she grabbed the key. As she turned the lock, she heard the ambassador finish his meal. She pushed the cell open, locked it with the key, and put it in her pocket.

Elana smiled to herself. She was free! She searched around the dungeon for the stairs, but they were nowhere to be found. Elana started to panic. There wasn’t any way out, and by now, her friends had begun to shout that she had broken out!

Elana frowned. She had come so far! She glared at each wall as if to say, You should let me out.

As she glared at the last wall, she spotted a very high panel that seemed to hide something. It had two handles, and a Master lock held them together. Elana, thinking quickly, made a lightning rope appear, tied it to the Master lock, and began to pull and pull and pull. Sadly, the lock was too strong, and Elana’s lightning rope snapped right after her third pull.

I got so far, she thought. I got onto the boat, I took the ride here, I tricked Tweetle and Twootle pretending to be Maryell—wait what did I do before that? Oh, yeah, I climbed the wall—

Elana spotted a crack at the top of the panel. She knew exactly what to do. She would make a lightning rope to climb the wall. Elana quickly created it and threw it over the panel and into the crack at the top.

“Good thing I have good aim!” Elana grinned and tied the rope down and climbed up to the crack. Elana stomped her foot on the panel and glared at it. She realized that being close to the panel didn’t solve everything; she still had to open it. Why hadn’t she thought of this problem before?

A razor-sharp knife magically emerged from the sole of her shoes. Elana was astonished; she’d almost forgotten she had magic powers! She grabbed the knife and cut a bigger hole in the wall. Soon, the hole could easily accommodate her head. Elana kept cutting, and two minutes later she could fit her whole body in. Elana slowly lowered herself down and pulled the rope after her, then crept up the first flight of steps.

XII: Dress Up

Elana ran up the stairs and out of the dungeon. She knew that any moment now she could bump into Casey or run into Tweetle and Twootle, or any of Casey’s other house staff. Elana wanted to bump into someone who didn’t know her. A plan formed in her mind. She could disguise herself as one of Casey’s house staff! She was about to make lightning rope to weave a disguise for herself when she realized the dress she was wearing was yellow and her lightning rope was yellow too. They’d recognize her because everyone had seen her wearing those colors before.

Elana fished into her pocket to see if there was some paint or anything else she could use to change the color of her lightning rope, but there wasn’t anything except another sandwich and a cookie.

Elana realized she had already eaten the same meal for lunch. She fished in her pocket to see what else was there, but there was nothing except a small red stone. Elana was so intrigued by the mysterious doubling of the sandwich and cookie that at first she didn’t notice Twootle marching down the hall. Luckily, Elana heard his footsteps approaching and ducked behind a big potted plant. Twootle clumsily bumped into the potted plant and marched away.

Elana realized she needed to find a room with clothes she could wear. So she walked along the hall, peeking into every room she saw. Elana had forgotten about the mysterious doubling of stuff in her pocket until she puther hand inside and found the curious-looking red stone and a double of the cell key where she had been locked up—alongside the original key!

Elana remembered reading a book that described an ancient, rare magical stone. When it came in contact with an object, it would double it. She suddenly realized that the red stone in her pocket was a doubling stone! Elana was a bit suspicious. She had no idea how the stone had gotten into her pocket. Could someone have put it in there? Elana thought. No, it couldn’t be. I would’ve noticed it. Someone must’ve used magic to do it. But why? And who? She pondered this for a moment. It must be because someone wanted me to have enough food through these days. After all, doubles of sandwiches and cookies kept appearing in her pockets. But who would do that? It sounds like something Henry would do, or maybe . . . Fillinus?

Elana, though starting to be super excited to possess this rare item, didn’t dare let a scream come out of her mouth. Everyone could’ve heard her, and she wasn’t taking chances.

Elana soon found what she was looking for, a small room marked DRESSING ROOM. She peered inside the small closet. There were all sorts of clothes, from rags to beautiful, but itchy, gowns. Elana stepped inside, checked the size of her own clothing, then looked through every piece of clothing in the closet, checking off a mental checklist in her head:

  • Is it comfy?
  • Is it my size?
  • Is it good for the weather?
  • Do I like it?
  • Is it yellow?
  • Is it easy to walk in?

Elana went over the checklist for each dress, shirt, pair of leggings, and pair of shoes she saw until she found an outfit that was just right. It was a blue dress that had flowers all over it, light-blue leggings, and a pair of black shoes. Elana put them on, then walked down the hall to find Casey with a new boost of confidence.

. . . to be continued in the June 2020 issue of Stone Soup


1 In the code that Henry made up, “microphone” means “army,” “CeeCee” means “Casey,” and “attack” is “sing.”
2 Translation: We don’t have enough Neptunians (i.e., furows and gingerbread) for the army!

Hannah Nami Gajcowski
Hannah Nami Gajcowski, 9
Bellevue, WA

Ava Shorten
Ava Shorten, 9
Mallow, Ireland