Mrs. Thorpe’s 5th Grade – 3rd Hour
The 71st Door
Animon stared at the honey badger. He didn’t understand why the inhabitants of this planet kept them in cages. It made him sad, but not like the same sadness he felt when he had left his parents nearly three million Lomick years ago. “Let’s go, Balkies,” Animon said to the invisible creature by his side.
“I don’t know why you insist on looking at them. The whole situation is entirely unpleasant,” the dragon hissed. Animon was thankful for Balkies. Without him, he would have spent the last forty-four Earth years roaming the chaotic planet alone. It wasn’t until recently that he had made another friend.
“The creatures remind me of home. I miss home,” Animon said as they exited the zoo.
“Speaking of home . . . our time is running out, Animon.”
“Don’t remind me. It seems like I’ve searched this entire planet, but nothing. It has to be here!”
“What about the girl? She says she may have found something. Do you believe her?” the dragon asked.
“I’ve heard that more than once, but I trust her. She’s not like the others.”
“Nope, not like the others,” Balkies said sarcastically. “She’s dead.”
“And I’m stuck,” Animon added. “Sounds to me like we make a good pair.”
Animon had known better than to snoop around the middle of his planet. That’s where the doors were, the portals. Balkies had warned him not to do it, but it was too tempting. He just wanted to see what was out there. Why have doors to other planets, if you weren’t going to open them?
He had chosen the 71st door for no reason other than it matched the identification number on his life band. He had no more than pushed the button than he and Balkies were whipped through the portal, his life band was stripped from his arm, and they were stuck to roam unseen on the planet he learned was Earth.
Immediately, upon his arrival, his body had started to weaken. Without the life band his years would begin to decrease rapidly. Life number 71, Animon, would be extinct, along with planet Earth. The power that it possessed could sustain the life of the Lomickians or destroy an entire planet. By Balkies calculations, they had seven more days for the band to continue its existence without a host before it detonated.
A cold wind blew through Animon. “Trish? Is that you?”
“Are you ready?” the sweet voice asked. Then Animon could see her. Her long blond hair hung tight to her face. The dragon growled. “Hello to you too, Balkies.”
“Balkies, don’t be rude,” Animon insisted.
“Couldn’t we have found someone living on this planet? Possibly one of those sciency people?”
“That would be all fine and well if they could see us, Balkies. I think we should take whatever help we can get.”
“So, are you ready?” Trish asked.
Animon and Balkies followed the apparition to an abandoned house a few blocks from the zoo. The front door hung on one hinge, vines had broken through the windows, and the exterior was blackened and charred.
“I hardly believe this is safe, Animon,” Balkies cautioned.
“Is this where you found my band?” Animon asked apprehensively.
“I didn’t find your band,” Trish said moving closer to the house.
“Then why risk what life Animon has left with this trash heap?” Balkies asked, stopping a few feet from where the other two had continued ahead.
“This trash heap was my home.” Her voice became sad and uneasy. “We lived here once . . . before.”
“Your family? That’s what you called them, family, right? They lived here?” Animon asked.
The ghost sighed. “Yes, this was my home. I don’t have family anymore. They are gone . . . they have been gone a long time.”
“We are sorry about your people, but our time is running out. Do you know the whereabouts of the life band or not?” Balkies demanded.
“Balkies, that’s enough,” Animon insisted. “She said she could help.”
Trish led the two foreigners to the back of the house. In front of them was an area marked off by a weathered picket fence. Animon’s curiosity got the better of him once again. He wanted to know what was inside. “No wait!” Trish called to him, “Please, don’t go in there.”
It was too late. Animon had seen what she had not wanted to show him. Lined in a neat row were five tombstones. On each stone was the last name Carlisle, on the fifth, Trisha Carlisle. “What is this?” Animon asked.
“My family,” she said sadly.
Animon jumped back. “And this . . . is you?”
“No. I’m me. That was my body. It died, but I lived.”
“July 1, 1971,” Animon read. “You died on the first day of the seventh month, in the seventy first year—71, 71. But that was,” Animon paused to do the math in his head, “44 years ago.”
“You have been dead to your world for 44 years?” Balkies asked. “Animon, do you understand?”
“Yes, I do,” Animon mumbled, realizing the coincidence.
“It’s felt like a hundred years,” Trish said staring at the tombstones. “No one could see me, hear me, or feel me. I was alone, until you saw me at the zoo yesterday.”
“That’s why you wanted to help me?”
“Yes. When you told me your story, I knew that I had something to show you. Follow me.”
Beyond the house, and the family graveyard, were woods thick with evergreen trees. “Look,” she instructed pointing in front of her. “That’s where I woke up, the day after . . . ” Her voice trailed off. Animon knew she meant the day after her body had died.
Animon, with Balkies by his side, walked carefully into the woods when suddenly Balkies took off. “Wait! Where are you going? Balkies!” Animon ran after him.
When Animon caught up with his best friend, he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Directly in front of him was a complete circle of mushroom like plants. “It’s been too long!” Balkies mumbled with a mouth full of the plant. “Oh, oh, I thought I’d never taste mealkin again!”
Animon picked one of the low purple growing fungi and popped it into his mouth. “Here Trish, you should try one!” He tossed the plant at her, but it fell to the ground. “Oh! I am so sorry, I forgot.”
“It’s okay. I’m never hungry. I thought they were just funny colored mushrooms, but apparently, they are a little more.”
“They’re mealkin! Kind of like a, what do you call it, a dessert?” Animon popped another bite into his mouth. Then, his eyes caught sight of something unusual. At the center of the circle was a large X made out of stones. Animon walked to the stones and stooped down. On each of the stones was a symbol. “Balkies, come look at this!”
“Just a minute. Let me enjoy the moment!”
“Balkies, I really think you are going to want to see this.”
Balkies sauntered over, belly full. “Animon! It’s our language! How is it here?”
“How is any of this here?” Animon asked him. “You said this is where you awoke?”
“Yes. It wasn’t here before. My sisters and I played in these woods everyday. We would of noticed.”
Animon thought for a minute—door 71, his life number, her death year—it had to all be connected. But where was his band?
“When I heard your story, about the 71, I realized that maybe you could help me get back to my family, wherever they might be,” Trish explained.
“Yah, maybe,” Animon said, still concerned about his own life. He studied the symbols.
“Animon,” Balkies whispered, looking closer at the stones. “I believe these symbols might reveal the location of the band.”
“How?” Animon asked. “The symbols don’t make sense. What they say is nonsense. ERAK? What’s ERAK?”
“It’s not E-rak!” Trish said excitedly. “It’s Iraq! It’s a country! Maybe that’s where we can find your band.”
The setting sun reminded Animon that now they were down to just six days. “Okay then, how do we get to Iraq?”
(To be continued . . . by the imaginations of Mrs. Thorpe’s 5th grade class.)