He had been in juvenile hall several times and had a scar on his face from a fight he had been in.
That is the way it was, and that is the way Sam though it would always be. He had no idea how wrong he was.
Sam was eating out of a dumpster.
The dumpster belonged to a restaurant, and Sam had found a half eaten hamburger and some French fries.
He was just thinking of going for some more when he heard a caw.
He looked up. Sitting not ten feet away was a large raven. Sam licked his lips. Roasted, the raven would make a good meal. Sam inched toward the bird. The raven did not move. Suddenly Sam dove at the bird. At the last second the raven took flight and Sam landed face first in a puddle.
The raven landed a few feet away, cawing like mocking laughter. That enraged Sam and he charged at the bird. The bird would fly up, and then land a few feet away, like he wanted Sam to follow him. Sam kept chasing the bird, his eyes full of anger.
The raven soon came to a wall. It flew over the top and out of sight. Sam came to a halt. He examined the
Page 2 wall. It was about ten feet high with dark grey stone and graffiti peppered all over. Sam didn’t care. He jumped up, grabbed the top of the wall and pulled himself over the top. He landed on the other side with a WHUMP! Sam looked up and gasped! A bonfire burned brightly in the middle of the lot. Several circus wagons sat hidden in the shadows.
The wagons had peeling poster on them with captions like:
See the hideous alligator man! Human or animal? You decide!
Grelda and Brenda, the Siamese twins
The raven was standing on top of one of the wagons. Sam started walking towards the bird when he heard a growl. He turned and screamed.
A huge creature tackled Sam and threw him to the ground, pinning Sam down with a bony knee. Sam tried to scream, but he was paralyzed with fear. The creature was hideous! Its skin was as pale as moonlight with dozens of small scratches all over its face. The creature’s cheeks were smeared with clown make-up and its eyes were bloodshot and wild. It opened its mouth showing rows of razor sharp teeth. Its breath smelled like raw meat and cigar smoke.
“Delicious…” the creature hissed.
“You will make a fine meal.”
The creature lifted Sam up and his life flashed before his eyes. The creature was about to chomp down on Sam’s head when a snap pierced the air. It was not a loud snap, more like someone stepping on a twig, but the creature dropped Sam and started howling in pain and anger. The snapping happened again and again and again, like someone was dancing on a pile of sticks. The creature curled into a ball weeping pitifully. Sam started to run away when a deep voice thundered from behind him.
Sam came to a dead stop. His brain was screaming; “RUN! RUN!”,but his body could not start itself. He turned and started to walk back toward the bonfire.
There was now a man standing there. The man had long greasy black hair, a short goatee and a smirk on his face. He was wearing the strangest outfit Sam had ever seen; a dozen or so different colored robes were wrapped around his body. He was also wearing an obnoxiously large red cowboy hat, with a sunflower stuck to it. Sam got near the fire his body still not obeying his mind. The creature was huddled near one of the wagons. Sam finally noticed the creature’s hands and they made him want to puke. The hands were melded of silver and copper with sharp pieces of wood for fingers. “Hello Sam.” The man said in a voice as smooth as butter in a silk jacket. Sam stared in shock. He had never seen this guy before, and yet he knew his name.
”Yes, I know who you are. Don’t be surprised.”
“Who are you?” Sam exclaimed.
“I,” the man said in a voice barely above a whisper, “am Skalakara, the greatest magician that has ever lived. I am here to find the Soul Stone.”
Soul Stone? Sam thought. That sounded vaguely familiar to him, like a memory from long ago.
“You are here, Sam, to help me get the Soul Stone.” Skalakara hissed.
Something in Sam snapped. He didn’t know why, but he had to get out of there. NOW! He leapt up, grabbing a handful of ash from the fire and throwing it into the Skalakara’s face. The magician let out a shout of anger and grabbed for Sam, but he was already up and running. There was a roar, a blast of green light and something whizzed past Sam’s head. Sam ran to the wall. He leapt up, grabbed the top of the wall and stared to pull himself over. Suddenly something pulled Sam down. He managed to hold on. Hanging onto the wall with his fingers. The creature was holding onto one of Sam’s legs, trying to pull him off the wall. Sam swung his free leg out, kicking the creature in the nose. The creature let go of Sam, green blood gushing out of its nose. Sam threw himself over the wall and started to run, not knowing where he was going, just wanting to get away from the strange magician.
Sam woke slowly. The sun was dancing on his face. It was late morning. He was laying upside down. His legs sticking straight up, his head stuck in an uncomfortable position. He groaned. The events of Page 5 last night seemed like a dream. He sat up. What had Skalakara meant by “helping” him find the Soul Stone? What was the Soul Stone?
Sam was hungry. He decided to think about it more after he ate something. He stepped out onto the street. It was busy today. People were yelling, things were being sold and the smell of food wafted through the air, then Sam noticed something, there were ravens everywhere! There were thousands of them. They were hanging from telephone wires, they were standing on rooftops, they were walking in the crowd… they were EVERYWHERE! Sam felt uneasy. A raven had led him to Skalakara and he did not want that to happen again. He walked through the crowd, trying to find a place were there were no ravens. He soon came to a place where there were no ravens. The Natural History Museum. He ran inside. There was no one inside except for Sam and a fat security guard. Sam was about to let out a sigh of relief when he heard a shriek, from behind him. He turned. A raven stood there, shrieking its head off. “Stupid bird.” The guard mumbled as he walked toward the shrieking bird.
Suddenly the bird’s eyes grew red as fire and it out a scream louder than a tiger. Sam knew what was going to happen a split second before it did. He threw himself to the floor just as millions of ravens came pouring in, smashing the glass doors to pieces. Sam was caught in a stampede of black. He ran toward the corner, ducking behind a display counter with a vase in it. The ravens were spinning around in a tornado, the vague shape of a man forming. Slowly the ravens morphed into Skalkara.
The creature lay couched at his master’s side like a faithful dog.
“The boy is here.” Skalakara said triumphantly.
“He is finally here.”
Sam was wondering why Skalakara was so happy he was there, when it dawned on him; the Soul Stone, whatever it was, was there, in the museum. Cursing his luck under his breath, Sam started to slink away, when he heard Skalakara say to the creature:
“Search the museum. Find him!”
Sam started to run, terrified that the creature might find him. He ran to a room full of spears and carvings. He noticed a large rock with carvings on it, on a stand next to him. Sam’s plan was to grab the rock and hit the creature with it, but the second he touched the rock, alarms went off, filling the air with screeching noise! The creature turned the corner, its eyes full of demonic hatred. Sam turned and charged down the hallway from the monster, panic filling his body. He kept running, the creature right behind him. He came to a hall full of life size dioramas full of stuffed animals. The creature finally caught up to Sam, grabbing him and holding him with one leg touching the back of his head. The creature flung him aside with amazing strength. Sam crashed into a saber toothed tiger that toppled on top of him. Sam sat up, white lights dancing in front of his eyes. Suddenly reflexes blaring, Sam rolled aside just as the creature landed on top of the tiger. It started to maul the stuffed animal, throwing bits of fluff and pieces of fur into the air. Sam was racing the opposite way when all the air in his body left him. He couldn’t breath, he couldn’t move, he couldn’t think. Page 7
Skarlakara materialized next to Sam, in his left arm now a ten-foot python that was wrapped around Sam, keeping any air from entering.
“You tried to run away! How pathetic.”
Skarlakara snapped his fingers and they were in a different part of the museum. A cold dark place with only one thing on display: a small blue stone with yellow markings.
“You will touch it!”
Skarlakara hissed directing Sam toward the stone.
Sam was inches away from the stone, his fingers about to touch it when something strange happened. Sam felt warm inside, there was a blast of light, someone screamed and then everything went dark.