This is the final newspaper article of the school year! At the end I’ve included a shortened version, since 6 pages was too much to fit in the issue. Enjoy! 😀

IMAGINATION

 

Erica stared up at the sky wondrously, then back at the shaded area of the lake. “What do you mean, it’s too deep?” she yelled incredulously to her best friend, Mark. “It’s perfectly fine!”

“It’s not!” Mark declared indignantly. “The lake would doubtless freeze over come Friday.”

Erica shook her head. “It’s not even close to cold, let alone freeze.”

“You get the point,” Mark snorted, dipping his bare toes in the water. “The weather’s been acting up, what with all this freezing temperatures. It’s July, for Pete’s sake!”

“It’s 2016, Mark,” Erica replied with a hefty sigh. “I’m surprised we’ve not been snowed in yet.”

“The lake freezing over comes before the snow,” Mark reminded her.

Erica rolled her eyes, then began to make her way down the muddy slope to the lake’s edge. “Paddle in!” she called to Mark, where he sat in the middle of the lake on a floating log.

Mark lazily rolled over onto his stomach and began to kick out, pushing the log back to the shore. “What now?”

Erica grinned. “What now is time to start the action.” She leaned over to tug the end of the log towards her. “Go put your suit on.”

While Mark tromped off to the shed to find his suit, Erica, who was already dressed up in the appropriate attire, slid neatly onto the indent in the log that served as a seat. Kicking her sandals onto the shore, she waited for Mark to come back in his suit – a compromise of a black shirt and black swim trunks similar to Erica’s black swimsuit and shorts – before pushing off the shore.

Erica ran her hands over the waterproof blue paint that marked the name of the ship: the TimeTeller, named this way because its crew could accurately predict almost anything time-related (the weather, when it would strike, the time of day, etc.) She let her toes trail in the crystal clear water, staring at the glassy blue surface. She sighed. “These calm waters mean a storm is rising.”

Mark winced from where he sat to Erica’s right. “Looks like Sara was correct. The open may be too dangerous a travel route.”

“We’ll try anyway,” Erica responded, pushing off the last strip of sand and into deeper waters.

Mark stirred the waters with his hand absentmindedly. “Shall we reel in the anchors, cap’n?”

“Aye,” Erica replied, at full attention now. “Reel in the anchors, hoist the sails, and get ready for a bumpy ride.”

Mark complied, grabbing the ropes that trailed down into the water from either side of the log. He pulled them up, grunting with effort at heaving up the heavy rocks tied to the other end. With another grunt, he retrieved the fabric of the sails from the baskets in the front and back, dropping the rocks into them to balance. He then propped up the fabric between two sticks on either side of the back basket.

“Cap’n, the sails are up and anchors in. Shall I strap the belts?”

“Go ahead, matey. We’ll need all we’ve got.” Erica nodded to her first mate.

Erica held tight to the sailpost as Mark tied a thick rope around their waists and the other end to the log. The wind began to pick up, pushing the log forward as it caught on the sail. The log tilted, shifting on the sudden waves that came with the rolling clouds. “This is a rough storm,” she called to Mark, gesturing wildly to the dark clouds gathering on the horizon. “May be out here for days to come.”

Mark grimaced, yelling something over the roar of the waves, but his words were whipped away by the wind that lashed at them, biting at every bit of exposed skin on the two. Erica cupped her hand around her ear, and Mark leaned in to repeat it.

“Bad time,” he said. “I think there’s an enemy on the far shore.” He paused, then snatched up the looking-glass–which was indeed a paper-towel tube with glass from a magnifier inserted into either end–and peered through it. “Maybe not,” he mused. “They could be nearby.”

“How close?” Erica asked anxiously. “We can’t let them take us.”

“I’d say about a quarter nautical mile,” Mark groaned, letting his hand drop to his lap.

“Is it–” Erica began, but Mark finished her sentence.

“Jasper and Ryan?” Mark sighed. “Aye, it is. Headed right this way, they are.”

Erica grasped the handle of the looking-glass and glanced through it. Sure enough, their two opponents, Jasper and Ryan–both wearing similar suits to Erica’s and Mark’s, only in dark blue–were staring through their own looking-glass right back at her.

“We’ll have to up our game.” Erica bit her lip. “When they try to ground us, we unstrap our belts and raid their ship.”

“Do we just dump them into the roiling waters, then?!” Mark curled his lip in disgust. “No offense, cap’n, but that’s savage.”

“I didn’t say we’d cast them away to die,” she snapped in return. “Only that we’d raid the ship. We’re not to destroy it,” she explained upon seeing the blank look on his face. “Just disorient them enough to pass by and to the harbor on the other shoreline.”

Mark huffed in response, then glanced up at the dark clouds. “Going to rain soon,” he muttered, pulling his bare feet out of the water and huddling up in his seat. “It’s already cold.”

Erica rubbed the warmth back into her arms. “Come on, matey, you call yourself a pirate? We’ve braved worse than this.”

“Doesn’t mean I can’t complain,” her first mate grumbled, but stayed silent after that.

“Don’t despair,” Erica told him after a few minutes. “We’re getting closer. We might even make it before the storm hits.”

At that precise moment, a fat raindrop hit her square on the nose.

The torrent had begun.

Mark bent over to the basket and tugged out the spare sail, holding it above their heads to block out the rain. Erica supported the other side, but she was unable to steer any longer. The ship began to drift off to the side, straight into the StormStalker’s line of fire.

Finally, within a few yards, Erica let the sail drop, and the rain pattered down onto her as Mark beat the water out the sail and stowed it away in the basket again. He watched nervously, fidgeting as Erica drew their ship closer to the opponent. “Can’t we just pass by?” he asked finally.

“They’ll try to ground us,” Erica replied. “Trust me, you don’t want that, and neither will I let this ship go aground. A good skipper would never let that happen,” she added as an afterthought.

Mark unsheathed his sword hesitantly, letting it glint in the dull gloom of the dim light that filtered through the thick fog hanging over the water. Erica drew hers as well when they came level with the other ship. Quickly, she and Mark dropped the anchor, cut off their belts, and leapt aboard the StormStalker.

Erica lashed out at Ryan first, catching him on the side of the head with the flat end of her sword, and he went down, unconscious. Without his captain/skipper, Jasper was backed into a corner, easy prey for Erica.

Yet he was stronger than she expected, and his first blow sent her toppling back, almost overboard. It was lucky that Mark was able to catch her arm before she fell, pulling her back onto the not-so-steady floor of the pitching ship, and she poked Jasper with her sword-tip to remind him that she was still there.

For a while the two fought as Mark readied the TimeTeller for departure. Back and forth did Erica duel with Jasper, swords always at the ready. Thrust and parry, Erica reminded herself grimly, hearing yet again the clash of the blades. The clang rang out, louder than the thuds of raindrops hammering down on the overhead sail.

Finally, Jasper had Erica’s sword in a lock, and with a quick flick of the wrist he sent it flying into the water, where the waves tossed in around until it would eventually sink. Erica eyed Jasper’s sword-tip warily, knowing she may soon follow her sword.

To make matters worse, Ryan had awoken and now slid a knife beneath her chin, lifting her head. Erica’s breath caught in her throat, and she realized she’d been deceived. They’d known Erica was too proud to let her ship run aground, so they’d hatched a plot to catch her when she attempted to rain the ship. She knew she had no time to marvel at the cleverness of the scheme, but she did anyway.

“Freeze!” Ryan yelled, his voice booming over the loud thunder and making Mark drop the anchor rope. “We have your captain in our custody. Surrender your ship and you may escape with your life.”

Mark stared at Erica with despair and fear for his captain evident in his brown eyes. His hand involuntarily reached up to his sandy hair, and he twisted a strand in his fingers as he thought. Erica shook her head almost imperceptibly at him, as she could not do much with a knife cutting into her throat. Thankfully, Mark took the hint and continued to haul in the anchor with vigor.

“Bad choice,” Ryan growled, digging the blade deeper into her throat, and she began to panic. With a swift twist of her arms, she dislodged Jasper’s grip on her wrists, elbowing Ryan in the stomach. He dropped the knife and doubled over, gasping. Erica snatched up the knife and scrambled back onto the TimeTeller, keeping Jasper at bay by parrying all his sword strikes.

“Push off, push off!” Erica urged Mark as she blocked a thrust yet again. “We haven’t got all day!”

“You need to strap in!” Mark hissed, grabbing her arm and attempting to pull her down. Erica shook him off, and in one swift move she hurled the knife at Jasper. She didn’t stay to see where it hit and quickly sat down, tying the belt around her waist as Mark released the flapping sail.

Erica twisted around in her seat and smiled triumphantly at the receding image of Jasper, holding his bent sword and staring after them into the fog. She couldn’t see Ryan, but they couldn’t get to the TimeTeller anyway.

Suddenly there was a dull thunk, and the StormStalker’s anchor ripped through the sail, leaving a large tear in the delicate fabric. The grappling hook anchor hitched the TimeTeller back nearly toppling it. Erica could see Ryan bobbing in the water, following the taut rope to their ship.

Mark cut off his strap and stood up, untying the sail ends. He switched it out with the spare, clutching the sail posts as he worked. The unstable log rolled in the waves, terrifyingly close to dumping the two-pirate crew into the swell. “Be careful, mate!” Erica called up to Mark.

Mark suddenly fell forward, falling through the half-tied sail as it gave way. He toppled into the surf, but not before Erica caught a glimpse of Ryan’s fingers curled tightly around Mark’s ankle.

“Mark!” she shrieked, but she could do nothing as Ryan beat Mark down with the broadside of his sword. Mark began to sink, falling unconscious.

Erica’s face turned into a mask of rage as she unsheathed her own dagger and stabbed down at Ryan. He dodged the first blow but could not stop a cry of pain from escaping his lips as the second blow collided with his shoulder. He reached up with his good arm, the stroke being a tad awkward as he was not left-handed, but he tried to lash out at her with his sword. Erica rolled out of the way, narrowly avoiding what surely would’ve meant death to her and her ship, not to mention her only crewmate.

She knocked Ryan’s hand away from where it clutched at the barrel of the ship, sending him back into the current, and plunged her hand under the choppy waves, fingers grasping the hem of Mark’s swim-shirt and yanking it up. Mark came to the surface, coughing and spluttering as he climbed back onto the ship. He attempted to scrape off the anchor with shaking fingers and nearly succeeded, but his fingers slipped at the last moment. Erica quickly strapped him in before he fell out again and began to work on the stubborn anchor herself.

“Keep the cap’n Ryan busy,” she instructed, grunting as she maneuvered the wet rope through the slipknot and untied it. Out of the corner of her eye she could see Mark striking repeated blows at Ryan, pushing him back along the rope, but he continued to pursue the TimeTeller.

Erica soon discovered that the rope’s frayed end made it even more confusing to undo the knot, especially as he could hardly see it through the sheets of rain and the rolling fog. She drew her dagger and sliced through the strands, releasing the hook. She untangled the rope from the stern of the ship and watched as Ryan was tugged away by the current.

Mark’s shoulders began to shake, and for a moment Erica thought he was crying as she looked at him in concern. Her assumptions were dismissed as he threw back his head and let out a long laugh. “We sure showed them,” he snorted.

Erica giggled as well. “Let’s get to the harbor,” she said when she’d regained her composure. “We must trade in our stoneglass before the tide comes in.”

“Aye, I see the shore,” Mark replied, one eye through the looking-glass. “Not far now.”

The TimeTeller banked smoothly on the sand, and Mark dropped the anchor. The sand was wet as they cut off their restraints and clambered onto the shore, and Erica threw out an arm to stop Mark from stepping over the tide line.

“What’s wrong?” he inquired, puzzled, but Erica only shook her head.

“We dare not go ashore lest perchance we should fall into some snare,” she explained. “It would be only too easy to hide the coils of a pulley-rope beneath this softer sand, out of the tide line, and we could trust only the crew of the StormStalker to try an attempt to belittle us like so.”

Mark probed the sand in front with his big toe, but he only succeeded in sending a crab scuttling out of hiding. The tiny thing was unusual and certainly not native to this shore, but the crew of the TimeTeller paid it no mind as it didn’t set off any traps.

Even so, the two proceeded with caution, leaving an obvious trail of footsteps so they could backtrack to the ship after trading in the harbor. They reached the metal bucket and uncovered the contents warily, shielding it from the punishments that the ominous clouds bestowed upon them.

Erica unhooked the bag of stoneglass from her belt, opening it and pulling out the clear blue marbles. While Mark selected the most beautiful shells to buy, Erica plunked the stoneglass marbles into the empty collecting tin. When they’d finished their trade, Erica pulled the drawstring on her bag and hooked it back onto her belt, while Mark closed the shell box and locked it tight.

They followed their own footsteps exactly, making their way back to the TimeTeller, and boarded the ship. By this time the rain was letting up, and the two hoisted the anchor, strapped in, and pushed off, their box now full of semi-valuable shells.

About halfway through the journey home, when the sky was clear once more and the sun shone down brightly, the two came upon the drifting StormStalker. According to the babbling of the soaked crew, they had tried to ground themselves, being that Erica stole their anchor and they needed to return to shore. However, the wind had other ideas, and pushed them back into the middle of the lake. When the TimeTeller had come across them, they were attempting to get into the now-calm water and push the boat to shore.

Erica grinned. “Need a lift, mateys?” she called to the boys, tossing them their own anchor tied to their spare rope coil. The two grasped the grappling hook eagerly and stuck it onto the stern, while Erica handed the rope to Mark to tie to the barrel of their own boat.

Erica patted the wooden figurehead, stroking the hair of the wooden doll she’d carved into the log. She was proud to use her art class skills on this boat; she’d gotten the details down pat and the doll even held a little hourglass to contribute to the name.

“Mark, where’re we headed?” she called back to her first mate.

He checked the compass. “Due north,” he replied. “Turn that way.” He pointed to the right, and Erica began to paddle in that direction with her large paddling stick.

Soon, the flat-headed stick scraped the sand, and she pulled both boats to shore. She tugged the hook off the StormStalker, shouting to Mark to throw down the anchor, and cut off the belts. She climbed out of her boat and Mark followed suit, plopping the anchor back into the basket and grabbing the barrel at the back of the ship. Erica lifted the stern, and together they began to drag it up the short, muddy rise.

Ryan and Jasper traipsed through the mud behind them, carrying the StormStalker, and they all ventured into the shed to stow their things and change. While Jasper and Ryan emerged empty-handed, having lost most of their stoneglass in the water, Erica proudly strode out with a half-full bag of stoneglass at her belt and her first mate carrying the shell box whose contents had won them favor among the kingdom.

As the four approached the castle, Erica had no need to knock on the door, as her older sister, Sara, stormed outside. “Look at you!” she yelled. “Wet and muddy, out through the storm, why didn’t you come back inside the house when the rain started?! And stop waving those foam swords and little stones around.” She glared at Erica’s sharpstone dagger, which she put away.

Sara herded them into the kitchen. “I’ve got grilled cheese, but you all have to go wash up,” she ordered.

She put a hand on Erica’s shoulder as she was about to follow the boys upstairs. “What were you doing, anyway?”

Erica said nothing, only grinned, held up her bag of stoneglass, and gestured to the shell box, which Mark had left on the table. Erica crossed the room and opened it, then locked it again and turned back to Erica, rolling her eyes. “Aren’t you a little old to be pretending? You four have been playing pirate for at least five years, since you were eight.”

Erica rolled her eyes right back, calling over her shoulder as she trudged upstairs, “You’re never too old to use your imagination.”

 

Of course, I’ve use some of the same wordings and most of the same scenes; this is just 2 pages shorter.

 

Erica glanced at her best friend Mark. “Ready to set sail?”

Mark nodded, slipping into his seat on the tiny makeshift boat. “Ready, captain.”

Erica sat beside him and strapped a thick rope around her waist, tying it to one of the boat’s sail posts. She gripped the steering oar in her right hand, motioning for Mark to hoist the sail, and he complied, grabbing the thick white sheet of fabric and tying it to the posts. He settled down, strapping himself in as well, then hoisted the anchor (which was a large stone tied to a rope attached to the boat). “All set, captain.”

“Then let’s set sail,” Erica replied, glancing at the bag full of marbles hanging from her belt. “We must get to the opposite shore to trade.”

Mark looked up for a moment. “Looks like a storm,” he commented, readying his own oar. “Let us hope we make it before those clouds break.” He stared at the ominous dark figures gathering at the horizon and scowled, then wiped his face blank and awaited orders.

“Push off,” Erica instructed her first mate, shoving her oar against the wet sand of the shore. The boat drifted away steadily, soon bringing the sandy stretch out of sight. The sail bulged as it picked up the winds.

After a few minutes of smooth sailing, Erica grasped her looking-glass and peered through it, gasping a little as she waved her hand to cut through the thick, rolling fog.

“What is it, cap’n?” Mark asked concernedly. “Any trouble ahead?”

Erica bit her lip. “Aye. Captain Ryan and First Mate Jasper on the far shore.”

Mark patted the hull of their ship fondly, his finger idly tracing the blue painted letters that marked the name of the ship: the TimeTeller. “The StormStalker is no match for the TimeTeller, cap’n,” he remarked proudly.

“Aye, that may be.” Erica grinned. “We just have to be ready.”

Mark raised an eyebrow. “Can we not just sail around them, cap’n?”

Erica shook her head, the smile fading. “They’ll try to ground us, push us to shore. We can’t let that happen; whatever goes, the TimeTeller shall not run aground. No, we must meet them head-on.”

Mark nodded firmly, then turned his attention back to his oar. He fingered with the sail rope for a bit, trying to adjust it as the winds picked up, but it wouldn’t work, and finally he resigned himself to steering with oars.

As they turned the TimeTeller towards the opposing ship, Erica could hear a jeering yell from the other crew. She looked up to see both members of the StormStalker taunting them, waving and sticking their tongues out.

“We’ll show you!” she yelled in response, but her words were whipped away by the piercing winds.

As they neared the StormStalker, a fat raindrop landed on Erica’s nose. She looked up to see that the sun was blocked out, covered by enormous clouds that shrouded any light. The waves crashed against the ship’s hull, jolting it as Erica tried to unstrap with trembling fingers.

When both she and Mark were unstrapped and standing under the onslaught of rain, Mark slapped down a board over the gap between the two ships. He and Erica streamed aboard the StormStalker, waving their swords and yelling hoarsely.

The raid had begun.

Erica targeted Ryan first, slamming the side of his head with the broad end of the sword, and he went down instantly. She then turned to Jasper, who was busy trying to throw Mark overboard. Shouldering her first mate aside gently, she advanced on Jasper with her sword at the ready. “Mark, ready the TimeTeller!” she called back.

For a while the two dueled as Mark prepared the ship for departure. Finally, Erica had Jasper cornered. However, he was faster than she’d anticipated and quickly had her sword in a lock, flinging it overboard with a flick of the wrist. Erica backed up, eyeing Jasper’s sword-tip and knowing she may soon follow her weapon into the roiling waters.

To make matters worse, Ryan had awoken and now slid his knife beneath her chin. Her eyes widened, but she shook her head almost imperceptibly to Mark, telling him not to surrender. He could still manage the ship back to shore without a captain, after all.

In spite of Ryan’s warning calls, Mark strapped in, ready to leave. Disheartened, Ryan’s hand twitched, loosening a little before the final blow. Taking this to her advantage, she twisted her arms to dislodge Jasper’s grip on her hands and elbowed Ryan in the stomach, smacking Jasper in the face with the back of her hand. While both were disoriented, she scrambled back onto the TimeTeller and pushed off, strapping herself in.

Discouraged, the crew of the StormStalker stared after the receding ship as it pitched, the rough waters tossing the ship around like debris. Erica snorted, grateful for the lucky escape, until she heard a large tearing sound. She glanced up for the source of the awful ripping, hearing Mark gasp in alarm, for something had torn through their sail.

Thunder booming in the distance, Erica stood up and groped around for the disturbance, feeling the sharp grappling-hook tips of the StormStalker’s anchor. It was stuck tight to the port sail-post, and when she glanced back she could see Ryan maneuvering his way through the dark surface along the rope.

Mark and Erica could do nothing as he came towards the ship except attempt to undo the knot. Erica fumbled with the hook, trying to find the rope knot, but the end was too frayed to be of any use.

She heard a sudden, startled cry and looked back to see Ryan’s fingers curled around Mark’s ankle, dragging him down under the choppy waves. Mark began to sink, having been beaten unconscious by Ryan’s sword.

Erica felt a boiling rage come over her. Drawing her dagger, she stabbed downward at Ryan as he attempted to climb aboard. He dodged the first, but a cry of pain escaped his lips as the second collided with his shoulder. He reached up and slashed at Erica with his left hand, but she leapt back. With a snarl of anger, she lashed out at the rope, cutting it free. She pushed Ryan away, unhooking the former anchor and letting it drop to the deck.

As Ryan floated away helplessly, Erica plunged her arm into the water, grabbing the back of Mark’s collar and yanking him up. He coughed, soaking wet, and Erica draped the tattered and torn sail around his shoulders as she pinned up the spare one.

When both were strapped in, they sailed towards the shore. The storm was beginning to let up, the rain pattering down less vigorously as the sun peeked through the emptied clouds. As the TimeTeller banked on soft sand and Erica threw down the anchor, she felt the warmth of the sun on her back.

She and Mark unstrapped, clambering out of the boat, but she threw her arm out to stop her crewmate from stepping past the shoreline. “We dare not go ashore lest perchance we should fall into some snare,” she explained. “It would be only too easy to hide the coils of a pulley-rope beneath this softer sand, out of the tide line, and we could trust only the crew of the StormStalker to try an attempt to belittle us like so.”

Mark nodded, probing the sand ahead with his toe before declaring it safe. The two trotted up to a covered bucket, in which lay an empty tin and a box on beautiful shells.

Erica pulled out the drawstring bag full of marbles and plunked a few into the tin, one for each shell that Mark chose. She placed the tin back inside the bucket with the remainder of the shells while Mark draped the tarpaulin back over it. They took their treasures back to the boat.

On the way back, the two came across the soaked crew of the StormStalker, attempting to push their boat back to shore. They’d evidently lost their oars, and the anchor-less coil of rope sat wound up on the deck. In reply, Erica had Mark toss their anchor back to hook onto the stern, while he tied the other end of the rope to a jagged-end board jutting out from starboard side. “You’re lucky we don’t make you walk the plank!” he yelled at the triumphantly as Erica steered the boat off. The StormStalker cut through the smooth glass surface behind them easily as the TimeTeller dragged it along.

They set down their anchors at shore, leaving the two ships tied together until they found an anchor for the StormStalker. They then proceeded to Erica’s kingdom.

As the four approached the castle, Erica had no need to knock on the door, as her older sister, Sara, stormed outside. “Look at you!” she yelled. “Wet and muddy, out on the lake through the storm, why didn’t you come back inside the house when the rain started?! And stop waving those foam swords and little stones around.” She glared at Erica’s sharpstone dagger, which she hastily put away.

Sara herded them into the kitchen. “I’ve got grilled cheese, but you all have to go wash up,” she ordered.

She put a hand on Erica’s shoulder as she was about to follow the boys upstairs. “What were you doing, anyway?”

Erica said nothing, only grinned, held up her bag of stoneglass, and gestured to the shell box, which Mark had left on the table. Erica crossed the room and opened it, then locked it again and turned back to Erica, rolling her eyes. “Aren’t you a little old to be pretending? You four have been playing pirate for at least five years, since you were eight.”

Erica rolled her eyes right back, calling over her shoulder as she trudged upstairs, “You’re never too old to use your imagination.”

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