The Wishing Stone
Sally Wilcox saw the Wishing Stone first. For that reason she felt it belonged mainly to her. That was probably the same reason she suffered more than the others from the stone. The more that was asked of it, the more it demanded in return. Of course no one knew that at first. But even if Sally had known, she probably would have made the same wishes anyway. She was a strong-willed girl, and rather impulsive.
She and her three friends—Cindy Makey, Adam Freeman, and Watch—were not far outside of Spooksville, their hometown, when they first spotted
the stone. Since dealing with Pan’s leprechauns and fairies in the thick forest high in the hills overlooking the town, they had been staying closer to Spooksville, not wandering too deep into dangerous places that were hard to leave. However, no place in or around Spooksville was really safe. The gang was only hiking in the foothills of the foothills when Sally stopped and pointed toward a sparkle in the trees, maybe a quarter of a mile off the path they were taking through a gully.
“What’s that?” she asked, brushing aside her dark bangs.
“I don’t see anything,” Adam, who was shorter than the others, said.
“Neither do I,” Watch said, removing his thick glasses and cleaning them on his shirtsleeve. “Did you see an animal?”
“No,” Sally said thoughtfully. “It was a flash of light.”
“It could have just been a reflection,” Cindy said, standing behind them.
“Obviously,” Sally said, leading the group. “But a reflection of what?” She paused. “I think we should look.”
“I don’t know,” Cindy said, fingering her long
blond hair. “If we go off the path, we’ll get all dirty.”
“And we might run into a strange animal and have our internal organs ripped from our bodies,” Watch added.
Sally frowned at Watch. “And you used to be so adventurous,” she said.
“I was younger then,” Watch said.
“You’re only twelve now,” Adam observed. He nodded to Sally. “I’ll go with you to check it out. It shouldn’t take long to hike over there.” Sally had pointed to the far side of the gully they were presently hiking through.
“We should probably all go together,” Cindy said. “It’s not safe to separate out here.”
“It’s not safe to be alive out here,” Sally said.
“But it’s better than being dead,” Watch said.
They hiked in the direction of the supposed flash Sally had seen. When they reached the spot, they searched the area without seeing anything unusual.
“It was probably just a trick of light,” Adam said.
“Perhaps some debris from a crashed flying saucer,” Watch added.
But Sally was unconvinced. “It was a bright flash. There must be something strange out here.”
“But strange is not necessarily good,” Cindy said.
Sally looked at her. “Are you getting scared again?”
“Yes,” Cindy said and added sarcastically, “Just being out in the wilderness with you makes me tremble in my shoes.”
“Let’s continue our hike,” Adam said. “Then we can go get ice cream.”
But Sally was unconvinced. “I want to search the area one more time. I can do it myself. You guys rest here if you’re tired.”
In fact, they were all tired. The summer was almost over but obviously the sun didn’t know. It was another hot, cloudless day. Adam, Cindy, and Watch plopped down on some boulders in the shade while Sally went off on her own. Cindy had brought a bottle of apple raspberry juice and passed it around.
“Another ten days and school starts,” Watch said, taking a deep gulp of the juice and letting out a satisfied sigh. “We won’t have many more days like this.”
“We’ll have the weekends free,” Adam, who was
new in town, said. “We’ll have plenty of time to hang out and have fun.”
Watch shook his head as he passed the juice to Adam. “You don’t know the teachers in this town. They give you so much homework, you have to work all weekend.”
“Why do they do that?” Cindy, who was also new, asked. “We don’t all want to grow up to be rocket scientists.”
“They just want to give us a chance to finish our studies,” Watch said.
“But what’s the hurry?” Adam asked.
Watch shrugged. “You’ve been here long enough to know the answer to that. Not that many kids live long enough to graduate. Last year only about a dozen people graduated from junior high, and half of them were missing body parts.”
“What about the other half?” Adam asked reluctantly.
“Most of them were insane,” Watch said.
Cindy grimaced. “That’s horrible!”
“I don’t know,” Watch said. “They had a great all-night graduation party.”
“I hope we get to be in a lot of classes together,” Adam said.
Watch shook his head. “It might be better to
separate. Then, if there is an explosion or something, at least one of us will survive.”
“You have explosions at school?” Cindy asked. “I don’t believe it.”
“We had a half-dozen explosions last year. Most of them were in chemistry class. The teacher used to work for the CIA.” Watch added, “But I think they got rid of him.”
Suddenly they heard Sally shouting.
“I’ve found something! I’ve found something!”