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(If you missed the first chapters, check them out online at www.newrichlandstar.com!)

20 Years Ago…

“Martin Steinbauer!”

The shrill voice brought Martin back to his 4th grade classroom. Mrs. Schlereth was standing over his desk, looking over the top of her glasses, a sure sign of disappointment. “What should you be doing right now?” she continued.

“Um, math?” Martin replied, hurriedly trying to shove some paper under his math book.

Not fast enough. Mrs. Schlereth snatched the paper out of his hand. The woman was quick for someone nearing retirement. She continued her glare but aimed it at the drawing on the paper. “This doesn’t look like math problems,” she harrumphed as she crumpled up the paper and tossed it toward the garbage can near the door before crossing the room to another delinquent’s desk.

Martin reached out helplessly as his teacher tossed the paper. She just didn’t get it. He didn’t give a rip about math. Who needed it when he was going to become a famous comic book artist? Everyone said his art was awesome, and he was working on new characters and creatures for his future masterpiece.

Martin sighed in resignation. He had really put in a lot of work to this new creature; it was part deer, part rabbit, and part sheep. He hadn’t come up with a name for it yet. The despairing artist looked again toward the garbage can. Mrs. Schlereth wasn’t a very good shot; the ball of paper was sitting a foot away from the receptacle. But it didn’t look like it would sit there for long.

That girl…Pam…what was her last name again? Rhymes with beagle…Spiegel! That was it, Pam Spiegel. They’d been in the same class the past two years, but Martin kept to himself much of the time. However, now he might have to talk to, shudder, a girl. Pam had leaned out of her desk to pick up the paper. She unfolded it and gave it a strange look. Then a smile burst forth on her face. She looked over to Martin, keeping that smile in view, then winked at him as she slid the salvaged art into her binder.

Martin shook his head again in the present day as he gazed at his fourth-grade creation come to life before him. The creature tilted its head as it returned the stare. Martin wracked his brain before finally remembering the name he had given this animal: “Shedeerbit!” he shouted aloud.

The creature started, then sniffed closer to Martin. It still hadn’t uttered a sound, but Martin could hear other sounds in the forest around them. The sounds started slowly but gained quickly in level. Martin was still sitting on the ground trying to fathom what was going on when more hurly-burly was created with the appearance of more strange creatures, all mixtures of various animals from Earth.

Bringing up the rear of this motley crew was a fox standing upright next to a cat creature doing the same. Martin’s memory was stimulated again, but he was less loud this time. “Fix and Bit?” he asked cautiously. The two smiled and said, “Welcome, Sir Martin. At long last, our creator has arrived to save us all. Thank you for delivering him, Shedeerbit.”

The 3-in-1 animal looked like it bowed as it backed away. Martin finally rose to his feet and approached Fix and Bit, who until this moment had only ever been ideas on paper. He had loved his characters as much as any real people he had known back when he was so focused on being an artist.

Wait, loved? What about Pam? And Cecelia? How long had he been in this fantasy realm already? The look of panic was apparent on his face. “What is wrong, Sir Martin?” asked Fix the fox.

“You look as if you’ve seen a ghost,” added Bit the cat.

“No, it’s just,” Martin looked frantically around, “my wife and daughter must be worried about me. How do I get back to my home?”

“But you just arrived,” said Fix. “We have great need of you, Sir Martin.”

This was a dream come true of any fantasy geek. Here he was in a world he had created and a mission awaited him. Martin shook his head again to clear it. This was all so hard to believe, but he’d lived in the real world long enough to know that he had a responsibility to his family first, not these make-believe creatures. Besides, this was all just a dream of some sort, wasn’t it?

“I’m sure you do,” he addressed the animals around him. “But I need to get back to my family.”

Fix dropped his head in dismay. “I’m afraid it’s not so easy as all that,” he told Martin.

To be continued!

Word of the Week: This week’s word is hurly-burly, which means commotion and uproar, as in, “The hurly-burly created when Justin Bieber arrived at the school put an end to any more learning that day.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

 

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