2010 Totem Head Story Contest Winner: "The End of the Line" By Ethan Spry, 9 years old, Phoenix, Arizona.
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Story Title: The End of the Line

So there I was, slowly sinking to the bottom of the lake.

The water cooled my slimy skin.  The birds above cast swirling shadows.  I stretched to full length trying to reach the surface but to no avail.

Still I sunk.

The cruel metal hook I was wrapped around pulled me downward, resisting my attempt to reach the surface.  I was unable to stretch, unable to reach.

Still I sunk.

The water darkened.  I bounced off the muddy soft bottom.  Shadows darted about me.

I tried to get free.  I expanded and contracted, stretched and pulled but after a few futile minutes, gave up.

I took a moment to recount my fate.  I was bathing in mud on the beach after a long rain.  Then picked, canned and sold to a fisherman for one dollar.  The fisherman then tied me to a hook and cast me into the lake.

Why?  What is his purpose?  What am I to do?

A darting shadow poked its head from the weeds taking a most unusual form for a creature.  Eyes placed on the side of its head, scales instead of skin with protruding spines, the creature stared at me.

"Excuse me sir, but what sort of creature are you?"

The creature seemed to smile.  "Well, I’m a fish."

I hadn’t ever seen a fish, but I’d heard of them.  I heard that they eat worms for food, and the rumor around the beach was that in a fish’s stomach, you were slowly digested over one year.  Now I understood.  I am bait.

I was in a pretty sticky situation for a worm.  No doubt this fish creature saw me as food.  Perhaps I could talk him out of eating me.  We worms are good speakers and pretty good at talking our way out of things like this.

Suddenly I noticed the fish swimming toward me as if he were going to swallow me whole or snap me in half.  I tried to wiggle my way back up to the boat.  Then I heard his voice.

"Don’t go.  I just want to talk.  I rarely get guests."  The fish drew closer.  "And you look very juicy."

I replied, "Oh, I’m not that juicy.  I’m full of mud and dirty stuff.  Trust me, I’m not juicy!"

"Perhaps so, but I hear that worms are tasty, and I like tasty."  The fish began to circle me.

The shadows swirling above the water gave me an idea.

"If you don’t eat me, I’ll tell you where you can find an abundance of juicy worms, even tastier than I am."

"Ohhhhh."  The fish was curious.

"Yes, follow me."  I began to inch my way up the fishing line to the top of the water.

The fish followed.  "Tell me please, how many juicy worms do you consider to be an abundance?"  He appeared to be salivating.

"Hundreds, maybe more," I replied.

The fish licked his lips.  "How juicy?"

"The juiciest I have ever seen."

The water became brighter and clearer as I inched my way forward.  The swirling shadows above grew larger.

"Almost there."

"I trust you have told no one else."  The greedy fish spoke again.

"Only you will know."

I reached the surface and poked up my head to look around.

The fish spoke again.  "Where are the juicy worms?"

"We must wait here for a moment."

The fish wiped saliva from his face with a fin, and then grew angry.  "You’re lying so that I won’t eat you; it won’t work, so I’ll eat you now."

The fish charged at me, mouth wide open.  I remembered what I’d been told; that fish cannot live out of water.  I jumped out of the water and into the air.  The fish followed and ate me, hook and all.

I fell into its belly, and fear overcame me.  I panicked and tried to get out.  It was then I realized that the fish was being pulled out of the water.  The mouth of the fish opened.  I looked up and saw the fisherman.

I saw my escape rout.  I leapt out of the fish, going airborne and taking the hook with me.  Then I plopped back into the water.  The fish somehow managed to follow.

The shadows swirling above grew larger.

The fish now scowled before me.  "This is the end of the line for you, worm."

Still, the shadows above grew.

I looked to the sky then back to the fish.  "Goodbye."

The water exploded and the fish was gone.  The shadow flew away, its prize clutched in closed talons.

I was reeled out of the water.  Again, I stared at the fisherman.

He was angry for losing the fish.  Then he said, "Well, little guy, you live to see another cast." 

And I did.

Written By:   Ethan Spry, 9 years old, Phoenix, Arizona.

Link to Free Writing Contest for Kids

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