2009 Totem Head Story Contest Honorable Mention: "The Long Journey Up" By Jacob, 13 years old.
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Honorable Mention

Story Title: The Long Journey Up

So there I was, approaching the Big Rock Candy Mountain.  So far the journey had been uneventful.  My husband, Bumbo, and I had just been married and were now going on our honeymoon to the famed ELOF, or Everlasting Land Of Food.  I had never been there, due to the Great War, but Bumbo had been there twice, once on vacation when he was only a very young mouse and later when his regiment traveled there to man the defenses set up at the beginning of the War.  The food had been spoiled, however, and there was no enjoying any scenery during the War.  It was on his return journey that I, Mirei, guardian of Cair Marphas, met him, and soon fell in love.  I had expected a journey to ELOF filled with flowers, and beautiful towns, and romantic meadows where we could have danced to the music of the native lizard musicians. Instead, the trip on dogback was filled with fields of yellowing grain, small, uneventful farming villages, and idiots jousting windmills while we were out on the plains.  Soon however, we commenced the climb up one of the many spurs jetting out of the mountain.

We had been up the trail for a good hour at a medium speed on our dog when suddenly a young little mole darted right into our path and squatted on the trail.  My groom yanked back on the leather reins, and the dog let out a yelp of dismay.

"Halt!  Youngling, make haste, what does thou doest in the middle of our way? Where yonder lies thy mother?"

The mole looked up, twitched his nose, and tried to restate the question.

"Where me mommy's buried?  Didn't know anybody lied her body anywheres."

The thought of his dead mother lying somewhere unburied took me aback.  I couldn’t understand how one could care so little about such a subject, for he spoke of it as if without a care in the world.  But as he walked closer I caught a glimpse of a small tear streaming down his face.

"Ca-can I uh, come up?"  And he wiped his face with his sleeve.

Bumbo and I glanced at one another.  "Sure," I said.

I regretted it.

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"I'm known for my singing, ya know," stated the little mole.  

My husband interjected.  "Oh.  Really.  Well let's not--"

"Really?  Sing some for me."  I said.  Bumbo gave me a look.  For the past two hours the young mole, Jitty, had been talking non-stop, covering the same points every few sentences.  I really wanted him to just be silent, but I knew that wasn't very likely, so singing could have been a nice alternative.

"Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall, ninety-nine bottles of beer…"

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Well, ok, so singing was a bad idea.  Soon he went off about a makeshift shack he had made to protect himself from the candy-rain.

"Candy rain?"

"Yeah, sometimes there's pretty bad storms that pour candy rain everywhere.  It's really hot.  Like, really hot.  Could scald ya.  The mountain usually prevents the rain from reaching ELOF, though, and that's why I'm going to the other side of the mountain.  Well, that and the Candasters."  

With that last word he gave a shudder.

"What are--"

"Monsters.  Flesh-eating savages.  Death from the skies, destroyers, murderers, cannibals, dirty-"  He burst into tears.  "That's what took my mamma."

The candy began to pour.  Fat, scalding drops of rain showered down around us.  The mole reached into a pouch and drew out an umbrella just large enough to cover my husband, Jitty, the dog and me.

Soon the umbrella began to sink with the weight of the candy on top.

"We must encounter proper shelter.  Maybe a--"

"House," the mole rudely interrupted, pointing to a large cabin about one-hundred meters ahead.

It wasn't long before we approached, and it took me just as long to notice it was a gingerbread house.  Bumbo pointed this out, saying that it had a style characteristic of gingerbread houses.  He had never been to the Big Rock Candy Mountain, but said they were common in ELOF.

Soon we were huddled under the overhang directly in front of the door, knocking and listening to the pitter-patter of drops hitting the roof.  The ground in front of us was glazed with a coating of candy.  Suddenly the door swung open, revealing an odd character inside.

As we came in, we introduced ourselves, thanked him, and hung up our coats on the rack.  I couldn't help but stare at him.  He was like an otter, but made up entirely of candy, his sleek red licorice fur catching the reflection of lanterns hanging around the house.  The walls, his clothes, furniture, and articles were also of candy.  He introduced himself as Otra the Miner.  We spent more than an hour conversing with the strange character, and at about that time the rain began to slow, and soon stopped.

"The rain has stopped, love, if you wish to depart."

Soon we were again on the path.  The birds, made of both candy and flesh, were out, and offering up songs of praise, as Bumbo and I say.  We were all counting them, seeing who could count out the most, and Jitty had the most, who knew much about them and their various hiding spots.

"What about that big--oh no--that's a candaster!"  The word hit my romance and I like a smack on the face, and we drew long swords simultaneously, and turned.  The mole jumped off the dog's back, and Bumbo followed.

The candaster came in close.  One swipe of my husband's long sword sliced a nasty gash into the unprotected soft cookie underbelly, its M&M eyes blazing.  As Nerds spilled out of the wound, the candaster crashed to the ground, screaming bloody murder.

No sooner had I rode over to observe the hideous creature than screeches pierced the air.  Candasters, a whole flock of them, dove towards us, wings folded back, shooting towards the little hilltop where we now stood.  I brandished my sword, and flung it at an approaching monster, then retrieved it as it fell to the earth.  I rode out to meet another, thrusting my sword into the candaster while dodging its path in the meantime.

But while the candaster fell screaming, with it came my best sword.  Soon the dead creature began to tumble down the hill, falling into a canyon, a faint splash marking the sound of my sword and the monster hitting the ravine at the bottom.  One of the nasty birds hit the dog, and swept me off its back.  The dog immediately lost control and fell tumbling into the canyon.

"Run!" Cried Bumbo, and we stumbled up the path, in clear shot of the candasters.  Jitty followed.

Before long we reached the peak of the mountain, with all of ELOF stretched before our eyes.

Bumbo drew his sword and leapt to the nearest candaster, wounding him, and battling off two others, while Jitty and I hurled rocks into the air, which often hit their mark, but only made them angrier.  Jitty picked up a large branch and cracked an approaching monster on the head with it, yelling out his revenge for his mother.  Candasters were crashing down left and right, yet we stood no chance against the flock.  Maybe God could…

An ELOF air patrol swept from behind, joining immediate battle with the candasters, who stood no match for the crossbow-armed air guard, mounted on tamed eagles.  Candasters are, however, as I learned, very clever.  The captain of the guard offered us a ride to wherever we were going.

Before long we ourselves were mounted on eagleback, the wind flying through our fur, as we descended toward our honeymoon.  I was just about to rejoice when I heard that all-too-familiar screech behind me.  Two remaining candasters had hid themselves, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.  Now they shot through the air.  One swiped his tail over the body of the eagle I was riding, and I felt the eagle drop beneath me.  I reached out, but to my dismay, I only grabbed the rider's crossbow.  My husband dropped a rope to me, and I caught just the end of it.  No sooner had I begun my ascent up the rope than the remaining monster nose-dived through the air.  If it were to hit its mark, the eagle and rider would surely die, and we would fall to our deaths.  I discharged the crossbow, hit my mark, and blacked out.

I woke up in a hospital in ELOF.  The next day my husband and I were on our honeymoon.  As for the mole?  He never had to worry about candasters again.

Written By:  Jacob, 13 years old.


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