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A Pencil and a Space Pod
The next morning, my mom told me that she had a lot of errands to run after she took the younger twins to our grandma’s. Trying to act casual, I said, “Ricardo and I are going to the park to play basketball and will probably just hang out at one of our houses afterwards.”
“That was easier than I thought it would be,” said Ricardo as we pushed our bikes out of the garage. We took off on our bikes down the street. King’s Kastle was a few miles away. It was the farthest distance I or Ricardo had ridden. We arrived at the restaurant close to noon as the lunch crowd was growing.
“Check out the roof.” I pointed up at the castle’s fake towers. The towers were cut outs positioned all along the edge of the roof and they were large enough to conceal Buddy if he was up there. “Buddy could easily hide up there with no one bothering him.”
“We’ll have to get up there somehow,” Ricardo said.
“Let’s go inside and see if we can find some stairs.”
We parked our bikes and walked in the front door. A hostess greeted us. “Welcome to King’s Kastle, just the two of you?”
“We’re just catching up to my parents,” I said. “They’re already seated.” I pointed at a random table in the back of the restaurant where sat a couple who looked to be my parents age. “I see them over there. Thanks.”
We walked past the hostess and into the dining room. Scattered throughout the restaurant were knight armor, swords, jousting sticks, and medieval costumes. On one side of the dining room, there was a large round table where they hosted parties. It looked as though they were getting ready for a birthday party. There was a plastic king’s crown and a bag of party favors at each seat. Tied to the chairs were balloons with knights, swords, and shields printed on them.
In the middle of the restaurant was a giant statue of a knight fighting a dragon. I had known it was there before, but when my eye caught it this time, I flinched and thought for a second it was Buddy.
“What about over there?” Ricardo pointed to a hallway.
We quickly shuffled to the hallway. At the end was a set of stairs. Without anyone looking we followed the stairs that led us straight to the roof access door.
I slowly opened the door to the roof as not to alarm Buddy if he was there. We walked out onto the flat roof. Surrounding the edge of the roof were the backs of fake, flat castle spires and towers.
We walked around large air conditioning units and other bulky machinery.
“Buddy,” I called out. “Buddy, where are you?”
Ricardo and I looked everywhere on the roof, but no Buddy.
“Sorry, Drake. He’s not here.”
“I should’ve known,” I said with a shrug. “I drew a smart dragon, not a dumb one that would mistake a fake castle for a real one. C’mon, let’s go.”
As we got back inside and to the bottom of the stairs, a waiter came down the hallway and spotted us. “Hey, what were you kids doing up there? You’re not allowed up there. Get back to your table.”
“Yes, sir. We got lost finding the bathroom,” I said as Ricardo and I walked right past a restroom door that read, King’s Throne. Across the hall another door read, Queen’s Throne.
Outside, we got back on our bikes. “Even if we do find him,” Ricardo said, “what’ll we do with him?”
“I don’t know, but we need to find a way to hide him or…”
“Or what?” Ricardo asked.
“You know, make him disappear. I mean if I made him appear, maybe I can make him disappear.”
“Sounds logical. You brought the drawing with us. What if you tear up the paper or burn it or something like that?” suggested Ricardo.
“Hmmm, that might work, but it might also do something not so good,” I said. “I mean, if I tear up the paper, Buddy could disappear, or he could get ripped up into pieces. Or he could keel over on the spot and land on some people or fall off a building. If I burn it, he could catch on fire and…” The thoughts were not pleasant.
“We need to test it out first. C’mon. I got an idea.”
We rode our bikes to a nearby park. Cutting through the grass we stopped at a lone bench in the middle of the park. We sat down, and I pulled out my drawing pad and pencil. I turned to a blank piece of paper.
“Okay, I’m going to draw something simple, meaningless, and not living,” I said.
“How about a pencil?” Ricardo suggested.
I was a little offended at the notion. After all, what kind of artist would I be without pencils? “Well, pencils are not exactly meaningless. Without them, I couldn’t draw. But that’ll work.” I started drawing a standard looking pencil. When I finished, we waited and looked all around. We never knew where the drawings would come to life.
“There,” I said. On the ground beside the bench, the pencil popped into view. I picked up the new pencil and placed it on the bench between Ricardo and me.
“Okay, now I’m going to tear up the paper.” I pulled the paper out of the drawing pad and then proceeded to rip it into tiny pieces. For extra measure, I threw the paper pieces into a garbage can next to the bench.
We watched the pencil. We stared at it without blinking. A minute went by and the pencil was still there in front of us. Then two minutes went by.
“I don’t think it worked, Drake.” Ricardo picked up the pencil and inspected it.
We heard a voice from behind us say, “That’s not going to work.”
Ricardo and I both jumped off the bench as we heard it. We turned around and saw a girl about our age. She had long black hair and looked like the girl on the bike we’d seen a few times that week.
“Ripping up the drawing isn’t going to work,” the girl said.
“We’ve seen you before. You following us?” I replied.
“Yes,” she said matter-of-factly.
Ricardo and I gave her odd looks. “Okay. Why are you following us?” I asked.
“I’ve been watching you, Drake, ever since your dragon showed up in your garage. You call him Buddy.”
“How do you know about that?”
“You and I are Imagos. My name is Grace.”
“I’m Ricardo,” politely replied Ricardo, holding out his hand.
“A what?” I asked, interrupting the introductions.
“An Imago,” answered Grace. “The Imago Council sent me to observe you and possibly assist.” Grace grabbed the pencil out of Ricardo’s hand. “And you are in serious need of assistance.”
“Well, it’s not like I was expecting this or had training or wizard’s school. Is this drawing power some kind of magic?”
Grace snickered. “Something like that. People like us always come from a line of Imagos, but not everyone in your family has the ability. You may have gotten it from your parents or your grandparents or maybe no one in your family has had it for several generations. I wasn’t told your genealogy.”
I thought for a minute. Could it be one of my parents? Why wouldn’t they tell me? Maybe they don’t know. Maybe it skipped them. I didn’t know my grandparents very well, but I had a vague memory of a few of my Grandpa Gene’s oil paintings.
“Maybe my grandpa?” I guessed.
“If it was him, he would have had an Imago’s case,” Grace explained.
“An Imago’s case?”
“Yes, a special bag or case for storing your drawings when you don’t want them in real life. Think of it like a toy box you can pull toys in and out of.”
“Wait, what!?” I gasped. “You’re saying all I need is this special case thing to put Buddy’s drawing into and instead of being in the real world, he’ll be safely hidden?”
“Yeah. Then you could take him out to play when you are in a safe space.”
“That’s great! Where’s this Imago’s case?”
“You just need to find your grandpa’s or whoever’s case. It’s common for families to pass down these cases from Imago to Imago.”
I thought for a moment. “There’s an old leather briefcase thing in my hall closet where my parents used to keep my drawings. They said it used to be my grandpa’s. That’s gotta be it.”
“Perfect,” Grace said.
“So we need to get this drawing into the case and Buddy will be safe and away from people?” Ricardo asked.
“Well,” Grace said, “the only way to get the real thing to disappear is to place the drawing into the case while nearby the real thing.”
I threw my arms in the air in despair. “But we don’t know where Buddy is!”
“That is a problem,” Grace said.
At that moment, we heard a screeching roar in the distance.
“What was that?” Ricardo asked.
“It sounded like…” Ricardo and I ran to the corner of the street. I could see there was commotion coming from a building a block down from the park. A ball of fire exploded above the building. It was Buddy. He had landed on that building, got scared and started making a scene. A group of people and cars had formed on the street below. One by one, police cars came whizzing by and gathering below.
“Buddy! That’s buddy up there,” I said. Ricardo and I ran back to our bikes and were about to peddle toward Buddy until Grace stepped in front of us and asked, “Aren’t you missing something?”
“The Imago’s case.”
“That’s all the way at my house. It will take forever to get there and back. Someone could capture Buddy by then.”
“Drake.” Grace grabbed my handlebars and gave me a stern look. “You are an Imago. You can draw anything to get you where you need to go.”
That was the first time since having this ability that I felt the heaviest burden. The thought of drawing anything and having it become real excited me and scared me at the same time. The responsibility of putting an end to all the commotion Buddy was causing weighed on me. It was almost too much to bear. I let out a deep sigh, slowly got off my bike and picked up my drawing pad and pencil.
We heard another screech from Buddy as a fire truck whooshed by with its sirens blaring. I stared at the blank page in front of me and panicked.
“Why don’t you just draw a time machine or a teleporting device?” Ricardo suggested.
“No,” Grace said. “That’s way too dangerous. With time travel you could mess up time and erase your own life. With teleporting you could show up on the other end with half an arm.”
I took a deep breath and tried to focus. “Okay, we need something that will get us from here to my house and back fast.”
In space movies, I’d seen these little pod ships. They’d carry people from the big ship down to a planet or over to another spaceship fairly quickly. I drew a space pod to carry the three of us and our two bikes. Just like my speed shoes, as I drew, I imagined the pod to be fast enough to get us across town and back. But not so fast that we’d crash.
Normally, I’d take my time with something as cool as a space pod, but this time, I kept it simple, yet sleek in design. It had a large back window, front windshield and a big side door that opened upward.
I finished the drawing and set it down. The pod unfolded into view next to a large nearby tree. The door opened, letting out pressurized air with a “POOOSH.”
“Nice work, Drake!” Ricardo shouted.
“Let’s get in.”
All three of us boarded the pod and put our bikes in the corner. There were three seats—two in front and one behind those.
We sat down and Ricardo asked worriedly, “You know how to drive this, right?”
I tried to be confident. “Yeah, of course. As I was drawing it, I pictured it to be easy to drive. So easy in fact it only has two options, see?”
On the dashboard in front of us were two large buttons: To Ricardo’s House and To Park.
“My house?” Ricardo asked.
“Yeah, you have a bigger backyard with space behind that shed we kept Buddy in. We can hide the pod there.”
I pressed the To Ricardo’s House button. The pod began to make a humming noise just like I had heard in the movies. It lifted off the ground and rose above the trees and buildings. The humming got louder and we began to move forward accelerating faster and faster. Out the back window, I saw Buddy and the cityscape get smaller in the distance.
“We’ll be back, Buddy,” I whispered.