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Christopher Collin and the True Okemus
Your opinion matters...
I would like, as the title suggests, to ask a favour of my fellow hubbers. I have been working on an adventure series for children, and want your opinions.
Now I know children's books aren't every-one's forte, and for those of you who fall into this category, I ask that if nothing else, could you please give me your views as to writing style, quality, and chances of success.
I'm not asking that you read my entire book, but I have posted the first three chapters to give you a sense of it's content. (They aren't long, honest!) Please keep in mind the format has changed from it's original state, to one that conforms to hub-pages.
There is a poll at the end of the excerpt for those who wish to participate, and I would appreciate all your comments. (Good or bad) For this, I say emphatically, Thank you, thank you, thank you!
And now, without further ado, I present for your reading pleasure;
A Reluctant Hero
Christopher Collin sat in the middle of his bed surrounded by an assortment of cards, stuffed animals, candy wrappers and books. The controller for his game system was in there somewhere, and he set about finding it.
He was in the middle of a Championship race that he didn’t want to lose, as winning meant he could unlock another secret player on the game. He found the controller and concentrated on the race.
He had just succeeded in avoiding a banana peel, when he heard his mother holler from the kitchen.
“Did you hear what I said?” she called. “I want that room cleaned up,”
“Ya, ya,” he muttered under his breath as he steered his player around another corner. Two more laps to go.
“Christopher!” his mother yelled.
“I heard you!” he hollered back, narrowly avoiding a bomb that wiped out another player. “I only have two more laps to go.”
“Ok, after that, save your game and start cleaning. I want all the garbage picked up and the dishes brought out so I can wash them.”
“Yes Mom,” he said, eyes glued to the TV.
He had learned that answering his mother with a “yes mom” generally bought him a few more minutes of alone time before she would come in and check to see if he was doing what she wanted.
His player crossed the finish line and he watched as they congratulated him with a ticker tape parade. Sighing, he saved his game and turned his attention to his room.
He didn’t know why he should clean it. He liked it like this. Granted, he sometimes had trouble finding things, but overall he was content with the way it was.
Besides, it was his room. Reluctantly, he grabbed the candy wrappers from his bed and picked up the cups and plates from the bedside table.
His mother watched as he put the wrappers in the garbage and the dishes by the sink.
“Thank you,” she said, rinsing a dish. “I’d like you to bring out your dirty clothes so I can get them washed. I have to pack your bag for your dad’s.”
Christopher grabbed the pile of clothes by the closet door and carried them to the laundry room. Dropping them in front of the washer, he quickly headed for his bedroom.
“And pick up all your Lego and put it away please,” his mother called after him.
“Fine,” he sighed. He wished she would leave him alone so he could play his game.
It wasn’t that he didn’t love his mother; he just wished she wouldn’t nag so much. He quickly scooped up Lego pieces into the container and stuffed it in his closet.
“Can I play my game now?”
“Is your bed made?” his mother asked.
“Make your bed and you can play your game.”
“Why can’t I just watch TV?” Christopher grumped.
“Because you have to make your bed,” his mother answered. She heard him growl under his breath and close his door.
“And never mind growling either,” she called after him.
His mother came in to check on his progress and inspect his room. Sighing she said, “When I say ‘garbage’, I mean empty chip bags too, ya know. And gum wrappers, and the half eaten apple on your toy box.”
Christopher paused in his bed making to watch his mother gather up the offending items. She found a pair of underwear that hadn’t made it to the laundry, as well as a couple of socks that had somehow managed to wiggle their way under his dresser.
Ignoring the snarl of game systems and controllers, she glanced around the room, noting the stray Lego pieces that missed the cleanup process.
Tossing them on top of the container in his closet she remarked, “Finish your bed and you can play your game…’k?”
Happy this meant his mother would leave him alone to play for a couple of hours he finished making his bed and grabbed his controller.
Down the hall, his mother smiled as she heard him whooping and hollering as he played. The last couple of years had been tough on him. He was a smart boy, but he had trouble making friends.
He preferred to play his own games of make believe, usually modeled after some video game he liked playing, complete with strange names and weapons that other boys sometimes found weird. Lately however, his games of choice were a takeoff on a video war game with lots of different guns (all with their proper names) and his own version of Pokémon®.
She had long since given up trying to get him to play games the other boys enjoyed. He marched to his own drummer, and she had to give him credit for being original.
He had a vivid imagination, and was quite content in his world of make believe. She smiled as she recalled grocery shopping while he slew imaginary bad guys in the soup aisle. She got a lot of strange looks from the other shoppers, but at least he wasn’t bored.
A loud thump followed by several smaller thumps and an angry growl brought her back to the present.
“What’s with all the thumping?” she scolded, opening Christopher’s door.
A very angry boy stared back at her.
“The stupid game fell and now I have to do it all over again,” Christopher huffed crossly.
“Oh…well do it quietly,” she said, satisfied that nothing was broken.
Christopher glared at his mother’s retreating back. He was just too mad to do it all over again. He punched the off button on the game system and stared at the cartoon on his TV. He fumed in silence for a while, watching the images flash across the screen.
He was bored.
“Now, what?” he thought. Making up his mind, he pulled a movie off the dresser and stuffed it in the VCR. A familiar scene greeted him and he settled down to watch.
Christopher liked Pokémon® movies. He enjoyed the different games, and the cards, but what he would have really liked wasn’t possible.
He wanted Pokémon® to be real.
He gathered up all his cards and sorted through them again. His mother had found a whole bunch of new ones at the Flea Market and he hadn’t had a chance to look at them all yet. Most of them were used, but that didn’t matter. They were new to him.
As he shuffled through the deck, reading the cards and sorting them into piles, he noticed one of them felt different than the others.
“That’s why,” he thought to himself, “There are two stuck together.”
Carefully he pried the cards apart and examined the bottom one. It looked sort of like the regular trading card, but this was a figure of a green fuzzy animal with a forked tail. The name on the card was one he hadn’t seen before. “Teek, the True Okemus,” he read.
“What is a True Okemus?” He scanned the card, reading quickly, but it didn’t explain much. It didn’t even have the usual information; hit points or attacks, and there were no instructions on how to use it. He looked through the pile of cards to see if there were any others like it.
Not finding any, Christopher tossed it aside. “It doesn’t belong with these,” he thought.
His mother interrupted with the reminder that he was going to his dad’s soon, and to come and eat.
His cards forgotten, he hurried through supper so they could leave. Grabbing his suitcase and games from his room, Christopher headed out, not noticing the eerie, green glow coming from the card…
Christopher sighed. Already it was Sunday, and his weekend with his dad had come to an end. He didn’t want to go home. He liked spending time with his dad.
Besides, going home meant he had to go to school tomorrow, and he didn’t like school that much. Most of the time it was boring, and he ended up getting into trouble. Mind you, he liked recess and lunch, but the rest of it wasn’t much fun.
Not to say the school was bad. It was pretty good as schools go. He rather liked his substitute teacher, and Mrs. P. was pretty nice, but it just wasn’t his favourite place to be.
He dumped his suitcase and games in a heap in the corner of his room and turned on the TV. His mom brought him a snack to ease the grumbling of his tummy ‘til supper was ready, and he climbed onto his bed to watch cartoons.
Pretty soon his mom came in with his food and he hungrily attacked his dinner. His mom had cooked a ham…his favourite.
He enjoyed eating in his room. He could watch TV, or play a game, and eat at the same time, and no-one bothered him. Every once in a while his mom would check to make sure he finished his dinner, but for the most part he could eat in peace.
He finished cleaning his plate and looked around for something to do. There was nothing on TV that interested him, and he didn’t feel like playing any of his games.
His mom always gave him heck if he ran around the house after supper, shooting his guns, ‘cause she said he got too noisy, and it was time to quiet down.
Besides, the lady downstairs didn’t like noise and she always banged on the ceiling if he fell down too many times. That would make his mom mad.
Privately, he thought the lady was just cranky. She didn’t like him much, not that he cared - he figured she didn’t like much of anything. Usually he just stayed out of her way. He really did try to be quiet after supper, but that was when it got boring.
Christopher sighed. That left movies. He decided to watch the last one his mom got him. It was still pretty new and he liked it ok.
It was one of the Pokémon® ones that had three or four different stories on it, and it had a really neat song at the end.
“Bedtime soon,” his mother called.
“OK, Mom,” he knew she would give him another call when it was closer to bedtime, she always did.
Yawning, he snuggled under his blanket. It was getting to a good part.
Sure enough, his mom came in just as the movie ended. “Bathroom,” she said, shutting off the TV. It was a familiar routine. Every night she made sure he got ready for bed, and every night he did his best to stretch it out for as long as he could.
When he came back, his mom was busy gathering up the cards that were scattered all over his comforter. He dove for the bed. “Wait…Mom….I want those!”
“It’s bedtime. You can have them tomorrow,” she said, calmly picking up cards. She was just so irritating when she talked like that. He made a grab for a couple of cards at the foot of the bed, but she beat him to them.
“What…” she mimicked.
“I just want to hold them,” he pleaded.
“Uh huh,” his mom smiled, knowingly.
“No. It’s bedtime. You can have them tomorrow.”
“Fine!” he retorted, as he flung himself on the bed and yanked the covers over his head.
His mom turned the radio and ceiling fan to low, then, clicking out the light, she sat down on the foot of his bed.
She did this every night ‘til he went to sleep. She used to lie down with him, but she said he was getting too big for that now. He didn’t think so.
After a minute, Christopher stretched his feet out so that he was touching her. He liked the fact that she stayed with him, even when he was angry, not that he stayed that way for long. He didn’t like going to sleep alone.
He didn’t like the dark.
Burrowing under the covers, his hand brushed a cool, thin object. “One of my cards,” he thought. Snuggling deeper, he grasped the card, pulling it closer.
“Lie still and go to sleep please,” his mother murmured from her corner of the bed. Christopher forced himself to lie still.
He was dying of curiosity to see what card he held tightly in his hand, but he knew if he moved, his mother would stay longer.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, his mother quietly got up from the bed and tucked him in. “Night, Little Man,” she whispered. “Sweet dreams.”
He waited until he knew she had left the room before sneaking the card from under the covers. He could barely make out the picture in front of him.
Reaching up, he quietly lifted one corner of the blanket that covered his window so he could see. It was the strange card. He turned it over, hoping for a clue as to why it was different from the rest.
Light from the house next door spilled into his room and onto the back of the card. He could clearly see the familiar ball, but the colours were different.
Where it should have been red, it was green, and the band around the middle was purple, not white. And it looked like it was glowing!
He rubbed his thumb across the card, thinking maybe his eyes were playing tricks on him. Green light flashed and he was pulled head first into the card.
Christopher somersaulted through a green hole and landed on his butt with a thump. He was sitting on a grassy hill in broad daylight, staring directly at a small, fuzzy green creature with a forked tail.
His eyes bugged out in astonishment as he yelled, “Mom….Mom!” No answer. “Mom, where are you?”
He was really getting scared now. Jumping to his feet, he looked around for anything familiar. Like his bedroom. All he could see were trees and grass and more trees…and the fuzzy green animal.
“Oh, my gosh…where am I?” he cried, tears springing to his eyes.
“Don’t cry,” said the fuzzy green animal. Christopher’s mouth fell open as he stared at the creature.
“Y-you can talk,” he stammered.
“Of course I can talk,” snorted the animal. “Why would you think I can’t talk? We can all talk.”
“Well…cause…you…I mean…because you aren’t….well….real,” Christopher answered. “It’s just a dream,” he muttered to himself.
“I am too real! And you aren’t dreaming either,” the little creature huffed. “Well, I used to be real…I’m real when someone visits me…but I can still talk.”
“Well if I’m not dreaming, where am I and who are you?” Christopher demanded.
“I am Teek, a true Okemus,” the creature said proudly, “And you are in my room.”
“Your room,” Christopher repeated. “Where is your room?”
“Why inside the Kemus sphere of course.”
Christopher was puzzled. “Kemus sphere? What’s that?”
“The ball,” answered Teek.
“I’m in a ball?” Christopher echoed.
This was just too weird. Christopher looked around. “It doesn’t look like the inside of a ball.”
“What’s the inside of a ball supposed to look like?” demanded the creature. “And it’s a Kemus sphere.”
“Whatever. I’m inside a ball, having a conversation with a made-up creature from a card, and you tell me I’m not dreaming.”
Teek stomped his foot angrily, sending blue sparks shooting in all directions. “I am not made-up and this is not a dream,” he squeaked in frustration. “Don’t you even want to know why you are here?” Teek continued in a wheedling tone.
“Ok, sure…why am I here?”
“Because you have my card, and I need your help.”
“Why do you need my help?”
“Why to find the rest of the Okemus of course. They are missing.”
“Right…and how do we do that?” Christopher asked, his curiosity growing.
“I have a plan,” Teek whispered. He peered over one shoulder and then the other as if to make sure no-one was close enough to overhear them. Christopher peered nervously around as well.
“First we have to go through Blazon’s door and find his card,” Teek continued. “Once we have it, he can help us find the rest of the Okemus.”
“That doesn’t sound like much of a plan. What door?” Christopher asked, feeling much braver since he hadn’t seen anything but grass and trees. “I don’t see a door. Maybe you better start at the beginning.”
The little Okemus sat down with a sigh. “Well,” he said, “it happened a long time ago, at least it feels like a long time ago. You see, there was a great Nin called …”
“Yes, a Nin - you know…a great wizard. One night he cast a spell and all the Okemus were caught in it. He took away our powers and put us all on cards, so that we couldn’t escape. Then he made other cards with creatures that sort of looked like us, but with different names.”
“Why would he do that?”
“He used the look-alikes, the impostors, to make lots of something called ‘money’. Soon there were impostors all over. He made them to fight each other…”
“Fight each other – you mean like in my game?” Christopher interrupted.
“What game?” Teek sounded confused.
“In my game, on my game system,” Christopher continued, excitedly.
Teek stared at him blankly.
“You know what a game system is, don’t you?”
“No, I’ve never heard of such a thing,” replied Teek. “What does it do?”
“It doesn’t do anything. It’s a box that you plug in and play games on,” Christopher explained.
“How do you play games on a box?” Teek asked. Christopher sighed. This was getting way too complicated.
“Never mind, finish your story.”
“Well,” Teek continued, “he keeps making more copies and more impostors. He keeps our real cards hidden.”
“How did I get your card if this wizard keeps them hidden?”
“I got lucky. The Nin accidentally put a bunch of copies in the same drawer with my picture, so I stuck myself to the back of one of them. He didn’t notice me when he took them out again, and I’ve been trying since then to get unstuck. Now that you have unstuck me, I can rescue the other Okemus…with your help of course.”
“How can I help?”
“You are a Nin.”
“I’m not a Nin,” Christopher protested.
Your mother called you a ‘Little Man’, I heard her…and you found your way into my room without any help.” Teek accused. “That means you are a Nin.”
“Ya, well, it’s just something she calls me, ok? It doesn’t mean anything.”
“Yes it does or she wouldn’t call you that.”
“I’m not a Nin. I’m just a kid,” Christopher explained, trying to be patient.
“What’s a kid?”
“A kid is a kid. You know, not an adult.”
“What’s an adult?”
“A grown up, a parent, like a mom or dad,” he explained. “They are usually old.”
“Oh,” replied Teek. “Are you old?”
“No. I’m only nine. I’m not old.”
“I think you’re just scared.”
“Oh, yeah - well how would you feel if you suddenly found yourself in a video game?” Christopher retorted.
“Video game, what’s a video game?”
“Never mind,” all this was giving Christopher a headache. He was starting to wish he had never looked at the card in the first place.
“Well? Are you ready?” Teek asked.
“Ready for what?” was the startled response.
“Why, to start rescuing my friends of course.”
“I don’t know what to do,” Christopher grumped.
“I told you. We go through Blazon’s door and find his card.”
Christopher rolled his eyes. “Who’s Blazon…what door?”
“I’ll show you. Follow me.” And with that, the little Okemus raced off down the hill.
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Copyright Enelle Lamb 2008 - Please do not copy and paste this article, but feel free to post a link using this url: http://hubpages.com/hub/To-All-Hubbers--May-I-Ask-a-Favour-All-Comments-Welcome