The Most Exciting Short Story
The results are in-- we got a great response to our short story contest from some very talented teens. It was hard to decide, but we have chosen winners for three categories: funniest story, most touching story, and most exciting story. The winners received gift cards to local book stores, and will have their stories displayed in the Young Adult area of the San Carlos Library, as well as right here on our blog.
Most Exciting Story
Ada Gao sent us a chapter from a longer story she is working on— involving a school where students use magic in an epic game of “Capture the Flag.” Read on for a blend of action and excellent characters…
“The School Wide Battle and the Golden Flag”
by Ada Gao
“Alright, front line of defense!” Ada shouted, lining all of the silver team up. ¼ of both the second and third dorm were joining the first in this school wide “Capture the flag” tournament. Even though she had met up with most of the most talented battle planners, she and Marter had won on the battle strategies that would be used in this contest. One team had to win by two wins, or else the match would still continue. This time, the teachers said “okay” to specially designed arrows that can only be used as “force blows” which can knock the air out of an opponent or knock them down. However, in order to be tagged out, the person still has to be tackled by an actual person.
Surprisingly too, the teachers allowed magic for the first time ever, but all students were so used to fighting with weapons that only the mages, which were chosen out of a small group—a dozen per team. The rules about magic were still restricted. Shield spells only, and elemental offensive magic. “Alright, warrior lines!” I watched eagerly as my partner addressed each part of the lines and taught them the whistle signal that she’d used a while earlier. However, she placed a memory charm on all the other dorm warriors beside the ones she trusted so that her idea wouldn’t be stolen by the other dorms. “Vivs, assist the archers and mages. Short range, defensive magic only. No offensive today—you’ll kill yourselves with the fact that you’ll be on the defense too.
“Luka, Ryseldric, and Felix! Step up and fight amongst the warriors.” She listed a few other vivs as well and they stood behind the others again. “Ryseldric, you’re officially joining the sky unit from this day forward.” She nodded approvingly at me and turned her gaze towards the archers, who were still trying to make their ledges and the mages who were assisting them. She tossed me a chip, which I added to my watch. “Sky unit outfit and earpiece. Alright, line yourselves up! I want volunteer vivs to go up there and defend the archers and mages. If nobody’s going to do it, I’ll actually assign you roles. Now that wouldn’t be very nice for any of you, right?”
“Congrats.” Reaku said, running forward and bumping me with his shoulder. He was already in gear and his earpiece was already put on. “You better start changing. For now, I’ll put a charm on those boots so that you’ll have some extra spring in the air that the others have already mastered. It takes a ton of hard work to get into the sky unit. For instance, you have to be quick and flexible, as well as a high jumper and a hard to catch target.” He murmured a few words under his breath and a silver light surrounded my boots, permeating through the fabric. It faded a few minutes later and Ada ran towards us, obviously done with arranging the mages, vivs, and archers.
She put her fingers in her mouth and the warriors immediately stopped chatting with each other and froze. “Attention!” She shouted, sounding somewhat like a military general. “Commencing plan. Sparker.” One of the vivs that stood on the sidelines threw her the gun, which made a loud, powerful sparking noise that alerted the other team and the teachers that our side was ready. The teachers and most of the assistants were actually taking position around the whole battle area, watching over it just as the hellhounds and Cerberus were. Marter and another assistant were in the game as well, one on opposing teams. The dorms were split up really unevenly—the gold team had 300 more players then the silver team, but the silver team made up for it by having an experienced group that actually fought in a war.
Dorm one had 500 students and 100 vivs, dorm two with a startling population of 750 students and 150 vivs, and finally dorm three with the largest amount—800 students and 200 vivs. Soon the sparker on the other side of the field went off and everyone on our side stiffened—the cheerful and excited atmosphere suddenly changing into a wary, cautious attitude. It felt like a turtle that was about to snap at any moment, and it snapped the second the starting whistle went off. Mercy was totally faded away from our warriors’ minds. The truth is that only half of our students were currently fighting, the others were resting up and training for their night shift. There was always a peace moment three times a day—for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Sadly, for our healers, there was work 24/7 and at least five of them had to be awake in the middle of the night to tend to stragglers who got ambushed in the dark. Archer positions were always taken in the afternoon.
Sure, this was my first school wide capture the flag marathon, but I already knew all the little bits about it—Ada filled me in the whole day between classes. I tensed as our first warrior line ran forward again, doing the same tactic that was used for the other battle. The gold team didn’t seem to recognize it, as their defense line fought back, with their own offense line advancing. “Piiii!” The sharp sound of Ada’s whistle brought our silver lines back, leaping over the heads of our own defense lines as the first one braced to meet the opposing warriors. Slashing noises and loud thumps alerted us that some people have been injured in the course. A gold player with a slashed arm was brought to the jail area, but he was met quickly by a silver healer, who was in charge of making sure that no infection would kill the viv.
“Kreet, kreet, kiiii!” The second silver offense line charged, slamming into gold defenses. “Fumus!” Ada shouted, large, smokey bullet-like images appeared over our defense lines and startled the gold team as they landed just behind the defenders. Sure enough, the distraction worked as the lines turned to see what made such a loud impact on the ground. In fact, the sound that the smoke bullets made was like a sonic boom, deafening and like a wave of wind. A few gold defenders were knocked down by the low wind as it forced its way against their legs. Another whistle escaped Ada, but this time it was in frequency. The speed runners on each side took off, and the first silver offense line took off after the jailbreakers.
A signal from Daffidol was all we needed to take off. Just as Reaku had promised, the boots sent me flying into the air along with the others, and they all whipped out their weapons at that time. I did as well, a sheath securingly bound to my sword so I wouldn’t get disqualified if I was caught with an open blade. A sudden impact alerted me as the sky unit dove and landed, with Ada in the lead. Just like all the other lines, the sky unit worked as a offensive player. We were supposed to open pathways for speed runners to both the flag and the jail. Senal and Surgerta headed for the jail while Ada motioned for me to stick close to her and attempt to steal the flag.
Keko raced past us, but he was tackled by another player. Catlike reflexes saved him as he did a flip—just like I did in my first match, and he landed gracefully on his feet. Without warning, Reaku slammed into the gold team member that was chasing the representative. Sure, that knocked the player off course as he turned to face the wind elemental. “Keep your eyes out for the flag.” Ada hissed, her eyes darting from side to side. “Go!” She darted out and I took the side opposite to her, charging at the defense circle that was blocking everyone else out from the flag. Ada managed to jump over them, but once again, the circle turned to close on her. Turning to go to her rescue, I saw a flash of red and realized that Daffidol gave the order for some of the vivs run into the game. Thankfully, the person I was looking for made it in without being captured.
“Avery, now!” I shouted, slamming into the side of a defender, who collapsed under my weight. One down, nine to go.
“You can’t trick us again!” One of them spat. I saw Roger, the boy who was named best spearman in the first mission that we ever took on.
“Who says I’m tricking?” I smirked and knocked down another. “Avery!” The red-haired girl came to my command, a staff in her hand. She darted around the circle and caught practically everyone by their ankles. The guardians fell just as Keko managed to jailbreak everyone in the gold jail. “Freedom!” I shouted, leading the way out of the gold territory. The team was so focused on trying to knock the sky unit out that they didn’t realize what their true intentions—steal the goal and to save the jailed. “Windgardius!” I shouted, forcing everyone in the defense line to break apart. Cardinal blew on a whistle that was high-pitched and deafening, which made everyone shut up quickly.
“Goal for Silver!” He shouted out of a loudspeaker. Suddenly, we were surrounded by the people who fought beside us and lifted into the sky. Students and vivs that were resting for the next round ran out as well, cheering loudly and fist pumping the air, congratualting us on our win. “Alright everyone, time for peace. It’s lunchtime!” Ada was pushed forward by everyone else and was met by Professor Foxtail, who greeted her with excitement. I ran up to them and said hello to the professor and asked about the next battle.
“Oh, actually Ada’s going to fight in that one as well.” The teacher told me. “Battle planners who win the lead plans have to stay up most of the time, so when they do have breaks, they really will take them. “The next one’s coming up in an hour. Then there might be one in the middle of the night. Sleep after lunch and get up in for the night one. It’s a good strategy if you skip every other battle to play in the main ones like the night and day, rather than the afternoon.” She nudged me towards where the others were standing to get their share of food. Today, since the plates in the dinning hall were too heavy to pick up by hand, hired chefs walked out and cooked out by the field, where taking it to us wouldn’t be too bothersome.
We helped ourselves to a good meal of hash browns, grilled unions, steak, and gravy. Sure, it was a mix of dinner and breakfast rather than lunch, but it was delicious after running around like maniacs on the field. Just as my professor had instructed, I left my station as part of the sky unit to take a nap. Surgerta, Senal, and Reaku didn’t back down from their positions though, but they agreed that I should be getting sleep because I wasn’t trained for this kind of fighting. Daffidol stepped out of her healer position as well, to take her place on the field because it was her turn to be in the archer position. “We lost.” Ada arrived at the very end of sunset, her eyes grim and her face smudged with dirt. “Our defense broke off and freaked out when an image of a spider that some kid on the other team made.”
Avery handed her a damp towel and my partner accepted it gratefully, her eyes clouded with exhaustion. “It’s dinnertime now, but I’m staying back. I need some time to think.” Ada’s turning down a meal?! I looked at her uneasily, but by the time I looked back, her eyes were already closed eventhough only half of her face was clean. Sendrake appeared at the mouth of the area and stepped in, motioning for me to go on first. I got up and turned to stare at him shifting Ada’s head onto his lap. She didn’t stir.
~* ~* ~* ~*
“She must’ve been exhausted, like completely pooped.” Zilar commented as I told him what happened to my partner. “I mean, a few days ago in the lounge, I saw her snoozing on a couch, but when I reached out to draw on her face, she was already staring at me, fully awake. It’s like she never really sleeps. But you’re telling me that she was really sleeping when Sendrake went in?” I nodded, uneasy thoughts going through my head as I remember how she just stayed like that for a few seconds after I stood up. After we finished our dinner, we ran towards the lodging area and found her sitting up beside Sendrake, who was curled next to her, asleep.
“Ada.” She looked up when we stepped into the room, her eyes clear and cautious.
“Oh, it’s just you two.” Her shoulders relaxed slightly. A cloak covered Sendrake’s sleeping figure. “This idiot fell asleep when he was supposed to be on guard.” I guess that was her excuse as she stretched and started polishing her blade. She and the silver haired boy must’ve fallen asleep together, basking in each other’s warmth. Zilar nodded as if it really made sense and walked outside. “What? You don’t expect me to say that in front of him, do you?” A slightly tired but amused stare met mine. “I can’t just tell everyone that I slept next to Sendrake. It’s a bit embarrassing.” I shrugged and smiled standing guard beside the door.
“Thought of a plan?”
“Yeah, you’ll see soon.” Ada’s eyes were cold and unmoved as she stepped towards the doorway. “Wake him up when it’s time. I need to arrange everyone beforehand. This time, only a few of them will fight by me.” Her words were icy and seemed to have a double meaning—I shuddered when I heard her tone. By the time I managed to wake Sendrake up, it was twilight. We stepped out into the field to see everyone sitting on the side. “Everyone take a rest. Whoever fought in the war and wish to fight beside me, step up.” A girl with red eyes and snowy white hair stepped forward. Her ears were slightly pointed, and she was joined by a long-eared elf with long, braided pale green hair. His eyes were the same blood-red color of his companion and a long scar marked the very top of his left eyebrow to the middle of his left cheek.
“Wait a minute, Miss Gao!” Professor Dùn ran towards us, his eyes full of surprise. “You’re not allowed to have other members participate.
“Professor, we’re lacking of players.” Her voice was curt, but her eyes were cold.
“No, let them.” Headmaster Keepr stepped forward. “I want to see a war leader fight beside her warriors.” Ada smiled and the two stepped forward again, eager to join and ready to fight. Few more warriors stepped into position. The teachers retreated, slinking back into the shadows.
“Alright, positions as we knew them and recited them. All students of the academy,” Ada addressed them as if she were a teacher, “learn from your elders and those who are more experienced. No matter how talented they are, you have your own way of carving your mark into moon history. So,” A flame burned brightly in her hand, wrapping itself around her until it covered her whole body like armor. Everyone gasped, surprised and awestruck. “Never look back.” The fire disappeared, leaving a red and black uniform on her body instead. A loud wind sound blew around the field, and suddenly all the moon warriors that had stepped up were dressed in uniforms. “Alright everyone, holograms are being passed out by the warriors. These will allow you to stand in the middle of the battle and see everything but truly, your bodies are in the camp. Don’t freak out, but instead watch and analyze the warriors who fight.
“Training sessions will be held next year, starting on January 3rd, 2014 and will go throughout the summer until the school year starts once again. It’s a club and a weekend activity. Signups will be found in the office where Deputy Headmaster Lucifer is seated.” With that, Ada smiled and turned her backs on the students.
“Five minute mark! Start casting positions. Representatives, signal the spark!” Cardinal’s voice boomed through the clearing, and the warriors that stood on our side seemed to feel the vibrations flow through their bones.
“Alright everyone, prepare for the fight of your lives. 67 warriors VS 337 students and vivs.” Ada stood up and everyone lined up and put serious looks on their faces when she passed by. “Warriors, our goal is to get two goals in the time limit of two hours. We’ll make this the quickest and the fastest fight that we’ll ever had. I think we can—no, I know we can do this. All of us are seasoned, prepared, and talented. I want you to fight at your best potential with a sheathed weapon and try not to break any bones. Instead, work on disabling and knocking them down if they enter our line. The boundary is marked by a mixture of gold and silver lines. I’ll cast a spell just before I hit the sparker that’ll make a red ‘x’ appear on their gold vests. That’ll tell you who’s who.
“Try not to aim for your opponents, but that’ll still be likely even though we’ve fought in a six-month war together. That was two years ago. These are students that haven’t even seen war face to face. Not stupid recruits that the sunfollower kingdom took. These people actually have potential, which the sunfollower army only had about 1% who were actually like that.” Her words made some of the warriors snicker. “Best of luck to all of you—never look back and always think twice. Set up your holograms now, students and vivs. Sparker.” Ada was tossed the sparker again, as she pointed it at the sky, her eyes glowed green and her hair had a red mist covering it. A full moon shone on her and its light wrapped around all of the warriors who stood in ready positions. “Fire.” The sparker was clicked and the largest signal flare exploded in the sky—like a firework as it burst into streams.
I heard several rustling noises as I placed the hologram eye shield guard onto my head. Suddenly, I was beside Ada, who was standing in the middle, waiting for the other team’s flare. “Damn those goldbricks.” She grumbled to Reaku, who smirked beside her, his red and gold jacket glittering in the silver light. This eye shield was brilliant—not only did it actually place me mentally on the battlefield, but it also allows me to hear what the conversations that were going on between the warriors.
“I used to be nicknamed ‘eyeshield 21’ on my football team. My team captain gave me that name after a famous running back that also had that number and name.” Senal commenting, as if he remembered the eye shields everyone back at the camp were wearing. “But my tint was a green color whereas the other’s, I think it was a blue? Or a clear screen, I guess.” Senal commented, his eyes glowing as the whistle rang out.
“First line set out!” Ada shouted, motioning with strokes from where she stood next to the first defense line. The line of about five seasoned warriors stepped up and took positions at the very edge of the border. Polah and Karina had positions up there, standing proudly beside their fellow warriors. They stood there for quite a while and I began to doubt that their strategy was working, but I knew that she wouldn’t say she’d have a plan for nothing. All I had to do right now was wait.
It seemed that they were calling the other team to make the first move. The gold team’s line moved forward too, to meet up face to face with the silver lines. As if on command, the silver warriors began laughing, jeering at the people who stood across from them. Polah blew on her nails and checked them in the light of the moon. I could see rage growing the gold vested warriors’ faces. Without warning, they charged and the silver line jumped over them. Two of the five continued running towards the defense line while the other three took out the gold line by pinning them on the ground just on our side. After doing their job, the three took off after the other two, who were sneering at the gold lines. “Move set!” Another command sent the second line running, leaping and twisting over heads. They landed among the defenders and frolicked around, taunting the others.
“1/2 SU!” The half of the sky unit suddenly took off and I found myself running after them. Surgerta and Reaku stayed back, brandishing their scabbards and blinding the people in the gold defense line with the shiny pieces of metal. Senal was talented at leaping and jumping as his actions quickly brought him to the middle of their base, where he was standing a few yards away from the goal. “B & F!” A loud war cry alerted me that a few more silver members were charging into the field, but I recognized Blizzard and Fuku storm through the defense lines. The same girl with white hair and red eyes ran after them, two long daggers gripped in her hands. She blocked off a few defenders that were wandering around the field and stripped them of their weapons—flinging it to the other side of the area.
Fuku approached the flag area and his scabbard suddenly burst into flames. The brown haired boy swung it around like a torch, his blue eyes sharp and glittering as each swing brought more light into his sight. Without a moment’s hesitation, he threw himself at the defense line and saw a few flinch back from his fire weapon. “Alto, trio!” I turned to see Ada back to back with the two who had stepped forward earlier. The long haired elf and the girl stood with her, each of them ready and tensed. “Yosh!” The three of them split up stood an exact distance from each other. They dashed when the second defense line of the gold team turned to chase them. Ada was in the center as the green-haired elf boy knocked out a few of the defenders on the right field.
The white haired girl took out the people on the left as Ada dove for the flag, gripping it securing in her hand. “No!” A gold defender shouted, swinging his blade down onto her. But she smirked and he cut through mist, the figure disorienting into a white, thick wind.
“Too late.” Ada appeared behind the defender, in the air, posed to kick. She kicked the boy’s back and flipped backwards, later catching herself and dashing towards the boundary line. All the silver players slammed people out of the way as they followed their leader into the silver territory. “Yeah!” She shouted, swinging it in the air. Everyone in the silver team burst into cheers, lifting the trio who had did the most in getting the flag onto their shoulders. This victory march went around for a few minutes, and the second battle was won soon afterward, in the same manner. Sure, it was a different strategy that she used, but it was still a win, no matter how you viewed it. By then, Ada was known as one of the best battle planners of our time. When the competition ended, everyone on the silver team received medals for our hard work and partnership. Victory!
Photo credit: Charles Jeffrey Danoff
Chris Gray is an Extra Help Librarian. When he was a teenager he started to write an epic poem about a misunderstood hero’s unrequited love. After he showed the first few pages to his English teacher, she was kind enough to not say how awful it was, yet wisely did not encourage him to finish it.