Chapter One - Title Unknown at the Moment...
You just never know when it’s going to be an extraordinary day, because it will always start out like any other ordinary day. Deceivingly, they all start off that way. In fact, the only way you can tell if it’s going to be an extraordinary day? Is if you’re paying close attention to the little details, little details that, when you think back on it, were giving you clues.
Well, this happened to be one of those days just loaded with clues…
Like how pockets of air between leaves or stones were catching the early morning sun, causing the air to shimmer, although it wasn’t hot enough out for the air to shimmer – like how on a really hot day when you looked down the road you can see the heat shimmering off the pavement? No, this was a different kind of shimmer. This was a quiet, peaceful, tricky kind of shimmer and the air was heavy and still… not a breeze.
And later on in the day golden rays of late afternoon sun were dancing across leaves, blades of dried grass and rocks… just a little too long. And the sun was casting light beams into the ground, lighting up the dark areas in the shade, causing the shadows to hunker and slunker back a bit more.
Now what would a tree know about this you say? Well, we trees are different from humans. You see, we’re all connected by our roots to one another, so what one tree feels and hears? All the other trees feel and hear. And we quietly discuss what we’re noticing with one another through our connected root system, and also by releasing our thoughts from our leaves into the air, seemingly carelessly, to be carried as whispers on the wind.
Most humans don’t know how to listen to our language though, and so think we’re silent. We don’t mind. We share in your joy as we watch you traipse along happily, and if you’re sadly trudging along we lower our bows consolingly. We try to shade you from the hot sun and we hold up our leaves to catch the rain so it doesn’t fall on you.
We watch as you build skyscrapers and billow huge clouds of brown, dirty air into the sky and we cringe as you carelessly throw your plastic garbage on the ground. Yes… we watch. And we wait. And we hope. That one day you’ll see. But we grow weary, for so many have lost the way…
But there are a few, a very precious few, who aren’t lost, and who carry the ancient secrets. They don’t know they carry the ancient secrets though. They are our hope, our last hope, and we hope they have the courage and the heart to try.
So we watch over them, and when the time is right… we’ll summon the Magikkers.
The dismissal bell wildly shrieks its final piercing call, signaling the beginning of summer holidays and moments later a set of faded crimson doors explode open, spilling children out into the schoolyard like ants frantically exiting their anthill after the Queen ant has given the order to evacuate immediately!
Taelyn, bracing herself against the sea of kids pushing her from behind, steps artfully to the side on top of the cement steps and grabs the steel railing, as children pour around her. Absentmindedly, she brushes a dislodged curly brown hunk of bang that’s grown too long and annoyingly keeps dropping in front of her left eye.
Then she notices her glasses are smudged with her fingerprints again. Sighing, she takes them off gingerly and uses the hem of her red and black flannel checked shirt to clean them. She stepped on them accidentally two weeks ago and had to tape the wire rim on the right hand side. Unfortunately, there was only black electrical tape in the junk drawer.
She places her glasses back on, takes a deep breath and looks up into the azure sky. A white dragon is winding its way slowly through air. Then, languidly, its wings spread wider and longer, as its feet disappear into its body and it slowly changes into; a turtle with the hind legs of a cat, a rabbit with a large set of antlers, and a winking horse with wings, wearing a cowboy hat tipped at a saucy angle.
Taelyn looks over at the bike racks and like every other school day, sees Eddie looking back at her. He’s always waiting for them there. Smiling, she begins to bring her arm up to wave at him, but her arm falters mid-air. She watches as the sides of his mouth turn upward then his head tilts as he notices her arm falter. She means to wave at him but she remembers she’s forgotten something, something important… but she can’t quite remember what it is.
Lowering her arm Taelyn distractedly nods toward Eddie. He’s far away but he has telescopic sight, and he straightens his head and back slightly, then nods his head up and down as he moves closer to her bike. He’ll wait. Sometimes she forgets her backpack, or a book, or her half eaten lunch… he so appreciates how she’s really good at sharing.
Next, Riley is excitedly pulling on the right shoulder of Taelyn’s shirt. His green eyes are bulging and his mouth is stretched in the biggest, widest, open smile, showing his uneven, still-growing-in two front teeth. One tooth is winning the race. He’s somehow both bouncing and vibrating at a high rate, and his hold on her shirt is causing her shirt to bounce.
“Come on Taelyn! You gotta shoot now! I just know you’re going to win it!” Riley yells excitedly.
Taelyn looks at blankly at Riley for a moment, then suddenly realizes what she forgot! How could she forget this?!
This was IT. If she won she’d be the best player at school, a title that Aaron had held all year. But Aaron wasn’t keen on giving up his title, and if she lost she’d lose her most prized possession, her Jumbo Steelie. Aaron had been after her Jumbo Steelie all year. Only five other kids had a Jumbo Steelie at the beginning of the school year and he’d won all five, one by one, throughout the year.
Finished with her train of thought, Taelyn blinks at Riley again, then stands up straighter.
“Oh yeah, ok, hang on,” Taelyn replies seriously.
“HANG ON EDDIE, WE’LL BE THERE IN A MINUTE OK?” she yells to Eddie.
She watches as Eddie’s chest puffs up and out, then collapses quickly. Eddie purses his lips and nods once, knowing this is going to take longer than normal and not happy about this recent development.
Taelyn looks back at Riley whose eyes have impossibly widened even more and it’s as if his cheeks are trying to relocate to the back of his head.
“Ok, let’s go.” Taelyn says to Riley. Riley’s right arm explodes up in the air.
“Alriiiiiight!” he yells wildly, as he turns and leaps down the stairs taking the stairs three at a time.
At the bottom of the stairs he quickly veers to the left where the concrete compound spreads out. In the corner a group of about twenty children are waiting. Aaron and his friends are standing off to the side of the larger group.
Riley’s swinging his backpack in a circular motion beside him, careening from side to side madly, as he runs in a snake-like forward motion toward the large group of kids.
“It’s the BIG GAME! Taelyn’s going to win Aaron’s Jumbo Steelie!” he’s yelling.
In the distance, Aaron’s back is to the school. He stops talking mid-sentence and both lowers his head and turns it slightly to the side. Then his forehead lowers, his eyes squint momentarily and his lips pull together tensely. Then he brings up his head and straightens it, his face returning back to its usual disinterested expression. He turns and begins sauntering toward Riley. The small group of boys he was standing with start following him.
Riley slows and stops as Aaron walks in front of him. The other kids stop talking and turn to watch. Aaron looks down at Riley in amusement, then looks over Riley’s shoulder to gauge how far away Taelyn is. She’s just reaching the bottom of the steps and turning to walk to the corner of the concrete compound where the Big Game will start momentarily. He has a little bit of time.
“How come you hang out with that four-eyed-freak Riley?” he asks quietly.
“She’s not a freak Aaron, and she’s gonna win your Steelie!” Riley retorts, bouncing in place and smiling up at Aaron.
Aaron mildly shakes his head and with a closed-mouth, smiles indulgently at Riley. The smile doesn’t quite reach his flint blue eyes.
“Oh yeah? We’ll see about that won’t we?” Aaron says, as he brings up his arm and drags his fingers through his dirty blonde hair, starting at his forehead and pulling his hand back behind his head.
Aaron does this a lot and after spending just a short time around him you can tell Aaron’s hair is very important to him. These past few months he’s been favouring a trendy unkempt look with long bangs and shorter sides.
Riley looks at the other boys faces standing next to Aaron, his friends, unsure how to respond to Aaron’s grooming tic.
Then Aaron slides one foot forward toward Riley, his other foot slinking next to the first foot, he casually drapes an arm over Riley’s shoulder and lowers his head closer to Riley’s. Aaron takes a quick side glance at his friends, one side of his mouth higher than the other.
“Riley, me and the guys want to talk to you about a business proposition…” he says in a lower, conspiratorial voice.
Riley’s forehead drops and his eyes squint up at Aaron.
“What?” Riley asks, his mouth open, one side of his mouth hitching up.
“Well, me and the guys were thinking you might want to make some money with us...” Aaron says, watching Riley closely.
Riley is intrigued but hesitant. He doesn’t know exactly what kinds of things they do to “earn” money and he doesn’t want to get into trouble. Yet… he very much likes the idea of adding money to his jar. But Aaron and Riley’s confidential talk is interrupted as Taelyn walks up.
“What are you guys talking about?” she asks.
“Think about it ok?” Aaron whispers in Riley’s ear as he takes his arm off Riley’s shoulder and steps away from him.
Aaron looks at Taelyn and breezily replies, “Nothing.”
Then in a loud voice Aaron says, “Ready to lose loser?”
And without waiting for her answer, he turns his back and walks toward the corner where the majority of the kids are concentrated. This is where the Play Off area is and where he has no doubt he’ll win the final Jumbo Steelie, making him the All-Time-Champion.
His four friends turn on their heels and follow Aaron, sneering back at Taelyn and Riley.