Peter Carrot-Top by Yolanda Jackson - HTML preview

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beyond help and the evil had total possession of him. David

 

described to his son the pain he and Dorothy had gone

 

through at the hands of Marcus. They went from living like

 

royalty to the pigpen, at the hands of their own son. Sam

 

told his father he was very sorry and assured him

 

everything would be all right soon. The group continued to walk toward home. Peter was

 

excited to see his new home fully. Dorothy and Jane sat

 

quietly in the back of the wagon. Suddenly, it began to

 

shake violently. Dorothy looked out, and she was in the

 

air. Sam had used his powers to levitate everyone into the

 

air. The people were now flying; this was the only way to

 

get home quickly before nightfall.

 

Through the sky they went. The children were having

 

the most fun touching the clouds. The birds moved out of

 

the way, and the long trees shrunk to make way for the herd

 

of people.

 

"Wheeeeee!" said they kids.

 

Up and down they moved and chased each other. This was

 

the first time many of them had been completely free. The

 

adults were placed in the back. Many of the older ones were

 

afraid, but Sam put their fears to rest assuring them now

 

that he would not drop them. Faster and faster Sam flew

 

them through the air, going in and out of trees, flying

 

over vast stretches of land. People on the ground were

 

pointing and shouting with surprise. One kid on a bike

 

rolled into a patch of hay when he saw the crowd in the

 

air. People were running, trying to catch up with the

 

flying people. Some were running to neighbors, telling them

 

what they had seen. The fresh air did Jane a whole lot of good; she woke

 

up smiling, asking for her family, until Dorothy filled her

 

in on what was going on. Jane pushed her hair back and

 

looked out of the wagon window, and smiled at her family to

 

show she was okay. This gave Sam more strength to move the

 

wagon even more quickly. Suddenly, the wagon and the people

 

came falling down slowly from the sky.

 

"We are home," said Sam.

 

The Carrot-Tops' home had arrived in one piece, safe

 

and secure. It was no longer frozen in time. The house was

 

like a castle -- there must have been hundreds or even

 

thousands of rooms. It was like the Carrot-Tops were kings

 

and queens of Baja. The home was fit for royalty. The crowd

 

of people stared at the enormous house and wondered how was

 

it that Sam kept all of this when their homes were either

 

destroyed or taken away. Some people in the crowd were

 

happy to have a warm place to bathe and sleep, while others

 

were becoming very jealous of the Carrot-Tops.

 

The people went through the house feeling and touching

 

things. It had been years since they had even seen or in

 

fact been in a house as luxurious as this. The people were

 

like kids in a candy store -- they wanted to feel and touch

 

everything in sight. Some people were even trying to steal

 

little knick-knacks outside in the garden, before they even went into the house.

 

"There will be none of that. Anything you want is

 

free. There is no need to steal," said Sam.

 

Peter ran up to the door and waited on his father to

 

open it. One deep breath and Sam gave the door a turn, and

 

swung it open. Everything was just like they had left it,

 

only this time, nothing was in an altered state. The cats

 

were running around the house and everything seemed to fit

 

in place. Sam went and lifted his wife out of the wagon and

 

brought her into the house. With Jane resting comfortably

 

on the sofa, Sam invited everyone in for a hot meal and a

 

fresh bath.

 

Some people began to grumble, they were upset that Sam

 

still had all of his wealth and they had nothing. He tried

 

to ease the tension in the crowd, but no one wanted to

 

listen. They were all jealous of the luxury Sam and his

 

family had.

 

"All of you have been loyal to me, and I will see that

 

you also get all that you left behind," said Sam.

 

But, no one wanted to hear that. They were upset. They

 

had lost everything because they were Sam's followers.

 

"Why should we trust you?" one man asked.

 

"Because we all have suffered," intervened Sam's

 

father. But the pep talk did no good, and off went the crowd,

 

grumbling and complaining. Only two people stayed behind,

 

Red Fox and Samantha Grey. Red Fox was half-man half-fox.

 

He was one of Sam's loyal friends and commander of his

 

army. Red had grown old and worn; his fox fur was matted

 

and his demeanor was that of hopelessness.

 

He looked Sam in the eyes and asked him, "Will you

 

make me like I once was?"

 

Tears began to fill Sam's eyes and he let Red Fox know

 

that he would do everything in his powers to make things

 

right.

 

Then Samantha Grey stepped forward. She was a young

 

woman, no more than twenty. Her gifts of being a ninja had

 

served Sam's army very well. Samantha was of Asian descent;

 

her long body and jet black hair made her stand out in a

 

crowd. She had taught thousands of Sam's soldiers how to

 

fight and how to respect the art of becoming a ninja, and

 

her army was unstoppable.

 

Samantha explained to Sam that she had had to hide in

 

the Black Forest when the elders kicked him out of Baja,

 

and she did not want to get killed like the others. Sam

 

went over and gave her a big hug, and told Samantha

 

everything would be all right.

 

"Don't blame yourself for running,” he said. “It was the right thing to do.”

 

But Samantha still felt like a coward, since she could

 

not protect Sam's family from being punished at the hands

 

of the elders. But Sam never held it against her. He

 

understood that at the time, she had to fight for her own

 

life.

 

Red and Samantha were the only people in the crowd who

 

stayed, the rest left, intent on trying to reunite with

 

their families that they hadn't seen in ten plus years. Sam

 

understood that they were angry with him, so he let them

 

go, knowing that most of them would be back once they were

 

rejected by their families and friends.

 

The remaining guests made themselves at home while

 

Peter and Dingo were having a blast running through the

 

house. Up and down the staircase they ran. Jane was pleased

 

to see her son finally finding a place to call home. It was

 

kinda strange to the Carrot-Tops to be back in their house

 

that had been vacant for years.

 

That night was so strange for the family that they

 

couldn't sleep, so the night was filled with stories by the

 

fireplace. Deep down inside, everyone was wondering what

 

tomorrow would bring. Jane began to tell Peter of a great

 

primary school, the great Waldorf Academy School. She told

 

him it was a school of possibilities, and that whatever his dreams were, the school could make them come true.

 

"Oh boy, I can't wait!" said Peter.

 

Jane told her son that he would fit right in with all

 

the other kids, unlike back in Georgia. For a moment,

 

Georgia seemed strange. They seemed to have been gone from

 

there for so long already. So, they put thoughts of the

 

human world in the back of their heads and continued on

 

with the stories by the fireplace.

 

Red Fox slowly came down the stairs; his fur was all

 

wet and shaggy. "Oooh, that was a great bath!" he shouted.

 

"It has been so long since I had a good hot bath like that.”

 

The family just laughed and welcomed him to sit by the

 

fireplace. Jane noticed that her mother-in-law was missing

 

and went up the stairs to find her. Dorothy was in her old

 

room stroking the pillowcase.

 

She heard Jane coming and said, "It has been years

 

since I slept on a bed, it seems so strange to me."

 

Jane sat on the edge of the bed with Dorothy and gave

 

her a big hug, promising that Sam would make everything the

 

way it was. Dorothy put her feet in the bed and crawled up

 

into a ball.

 

Jane went down and told Sam about his mother. He

 

rushed right up to her bedside to make sure that she was

 

okay. Sam saw the state his mother was in, and ran to the phone and called a doctor. David ran to his wife's side and

 

comforted her.

 

"It's the years of digging in those nasty tunnels that

 

has her sick," said David.

 

At the same time, Sam was on the phone talking to the

 

doctor, asking him to get there right away. Within a few

 

seconds, he appeared out of thin air. It startled everyone

 

for a moment. Sam went over and tried to shake the doctor's

 

hand, but it was only a hologram of the doctor that told

 

the patient and their family what to do to help their loved

 

ones.

 

The hologram of Dr. Doo came on with a computer

 

generated voice telling the family to boil hot water with

 

lotus leaves and place them on Dorothy's chest. The family

 

was stunned for a while, but did what the hologram told

 

them to do. Dorothy went in and out of a coma. Sam was very

 

sad, and he begged his mother to hold on just a while

 

longer.

 

Before anyone could say another word, the medicine

 

worked. Dorothy was still ill, but was feeling much better.

 

She leaned over to her son and asked him to bring Peter

 

forward.

 

Peter went forward to hear what his grandmother had to

 

say; she whispered, "You are the eighth key." Peter did not understand what she meant and just went

 

on agreeing with her because she was ill. She fell fast

 

asleep and everyone left the room. The computer-generated

 

image vanished and the door bell rang. Jane walked to the

 

door and opened it slowly.

 

An older gentleman walked in and said, "Hi, I am Dr.

 

Doo."

 

Jane was caught a little off guard and proceeded to

 

take the doctor upstairs. Dr. Doo explained to the family

 

that the computer-generated image stayed with a person who

 

was ill until he arrived. This was a far more advanced

 

technology than the Carrot-Tops were used to. The doctor

 

examined Dorothy and told the family she would be fine; she

 

just needed a little rest and clean, fresh air. Dr. Doo

 

also let the family know how wonderful it was to see them

 

back in Baja, and that he supported them one hundred

 

percent.

 

The family was amazed to see the support they were

 

getting from all over Baja, and this made Sam more

 

determined to fight. The night was quiet and everyone went

 

to bed waiting for tomorrow to come. Yet, Sam could not

 

sleep. He walked through the house, pacing back and forth,

 

trying to take in all the emotions, and to find out where

 

his life had left off at. He went and sat at his office desk, reading the papers

 

from ten years past. The headline was the exile of the

 

Carrot-Tops. The report made the Carrot-Tops look like a

 

disgrace. Sam read the report over and over again. In his

 

mind, he could picture and replay the event again and

 

again. He went through his office with a fine tooth comb,

 

looking for anything out of the ordinary. He knew that his

 

brother would probably try to set him up again.

 

Sam suddenly fell asleep in his office. The spirits of

 

the seven elders came to him, one by one in a ghostly

 

fashion. They swarmed around the office and said in soft

 

voices, "Sam, Sam, wake up." The voices repeated their

 

request one by one.

 

Sam woke up, but he was also now a spirit. He walked

 

out of his body to be in the same form as the spirits. Sam

 

looked back and saw his body lying lifeless, sleeping away,

 

then he turned his attention back to the spirits. He tried

 

to reach out to them, but a force field stopped him. To

 

Sam, it felt as if his legs were made out of iron. The

 

spirits warned Sam that they must talk quickly and he must

 

listen.

 

"A war is coming and Peter is the key. If we do not

 

awake in the time before the war, Baja will be lost

 

forever. We know you are not the one at fault. Your brother is, and he must be stopped or we will lose everything,"

 

said the spirits.

 

Sam acknowledged them, and promised the spirits that

 

he would try to make things right and Baja would not be

 

lost. The spirits reminded him that there was nothing that

 

they could do while in hibernation and the longer they

 

hibernated, the less powerful they would become. It had now

 

been ten years and they needed to get out of hibernation as

 

soon as possible. The spirits' images began to fade in and

 

out, and then suddenly, they disappeared.

 

Sam woke up in a pool of blue goo; it covered his

 

entire body. He ran to the bathroom to wash his face. He

 

could not stop thinking about what the spirits had told

 

him. After a quick check on everyone, Sam was back in his

 

office, thinking about the way in which he could save Baja. Chapter 6

 

Waldorf Academy

 

Morning had arrived, and the skies were bright purple.

 

Everyone was a bit in awe of what was happening. Grandpa

 

David told everyone it was okay. He said a purple sun

 

happens in Baja every six months. To Peter, this was the

 

best thing that had ever happened. He reached for his

 

father's telescope and looked into the skies.

 

"Wooowww!" said Peter.

 

The family was happy to see Peter settling in so well.

 

Everyone had something to do today. Jane had to put Peter

 

in school; Sam, Red Fox and Samantha Grey had a serious

 

mission to work on -- saving Baja and waking the elders.

 

Grandpa David had to watch Dorothy and make sure she

 

remained in good health. Everyone's day was planned, but as

 

we all know, nothing ever goes according to plans.

 

The doorbell rang while everyone was eating breakfast.

 

It was a reporter from the London Times. He was a slender

 

built man with black-framed glasses, and he had a

 

suspicious air about him. Before Sam could invite him in,

 

he barged his way into the house.

 

"I am Isaac McPhee, the London Times reporter," he said.

 

Everyone at the table stared at him.

 

"What in the world do you want?" asked Red Fox.

 

"Well, what everyone wants, which is an interview with

 

the boy," said Isaac. Since Red was a protector of Sam and

 

his family, he kicked the reporter out of the house. As he

 

was being escorted out, he shouted, "So tell me, folks, how

 

will it feel to be responsible for destroying Baja twice?"

 

No one answered as Red Fox kicked out the reporter.

 

News had spread all over Baja so quickly that people were

 

coming from all over to get a glance at the house were the

 

boy savior and his family were living. Jane was very upset

 

that this might be putting a lot of pressure on Peter, but

 

by his reaction, he did not care. All he wanted to be was a

 

kid, and be loved by everyone. The only thing on Peter's

 

mind was making new friends.

 

A tabby cat suddenly leaped onto the table and began

 

to talk. "Jane, I have missed you," said the cat. Jane

 

screamed with excitement. It was Felix, her cat.

 

"Where have you been? I looked all over for you."

 

Felix began to lick his paws, and jumped into Jane

 

arms and let out a soft “purrrr.”

 

Jane explained to the family that Felix was a magical

 

cat given to her by a man selling jumping beans, and from then on, Felix and Jane remained the best of friends.

 

"Who is this little one?" Felix asked.

 

"That's Peter, our son," said Jane.

 

"Oh, you have been away too long, Jane. We must catch

 

up," Felix replied.

 

Jane filled Felix in on everything, but she was more

 

excited to see her old friend again. Peter was amazed to

 

see a talking cat and wanted to take it with him.

 

"No, no, you can't take Felix anywhere. He likes it

 

when he's home," said Jane.

 

"But, Mom, I will be the newest kid on the block, and

 

I will need something to break the ice," said Peter.

 

"No!" said Jane as she rushed Peter upstairs to brush

 

up for his meeting with the school.

 

One person was not happy, and that was Dingo. Ooh! He

 

did not like Felix. He began to chase Felix around the

 

house.

 

"Behave, you two!" shouted Jane, and each animal went

 

their separate way.

 

But today was also a big day for Jane. She wanted to

 

find her parents to see if they would accept her again. She

 

picked up the phone to call and then hung it up again. She

 

was very nervous about making that very important phone

 

call to her family. Poor Jane never seemed to have the courage, and instead walked away from the phone.

 

Finally, Sam came and held her hand while Jane made

 

that important phone call. She listened as the phone rang

 

on the other end.

 

Someone picked up and said, "Hello, hello."

 

Jane could not say anything; she was at a loss for

 

words.

 

Then Sam got on the phone and asked to speak with Mr.

 

or Mrs. Burgandy.

 

The voice replied, "This is Mrs. Burgandy.

 

Sam quickly gave the phone to Jane. "Mother! This is

 

Jane; I have come back to Baja."

 

But the voice said nothing and the phone went

 

completely dead. There was disappointment in Jane's eyes,

 

but she did not let on and told Sam that it was the wrong

 

number.

 

But the day was just beginning, and before Jane and

 

Sam were ready to leave the house, a sudden knock was at

 

the door. The face looked so familiar, but neither Jane nor

 

Sam could put a name with the person until he introduced

 

himself once again.

 

"Hello, I am Patric Stewart; we met on the ride over

 

here."

 

"Oh, yes," said the Carrot-Tops, Sam and Jane remembered Patric.

 

Jane and Sam asked him what brought him back to see

 

them. Patric explained to the family that he was the

 

headmaster over the schools and the entire world of Baja

 

until the elders woke. Jane was a little reluctant to hear

 

what Mr. Stewart was saying, but she was caught up by his

 

charm, and listened to every word. Patric was quite the

 

ladies' man, always neatly dressed with a well shaved head

 

and the finest suits in the entire galaxy of Baja.

 

He explained to the Carrot-Tops that he wanted Peter

 

to be in the best school with the other gifted kids. So, he

 

wanted Peter to go to Waldorf Academy, a place for only the

 

gifted. In all, there were over one million kids in the

 

gifted program. Jane was very surprised and asked how that

 

was possible, to have so many kids in the same place at one

 

time. Patric explained that when the elders went into

 

hibernation and the Oracle read that a gifted child would

 

release the spell, everyone in Baja began to have children

 

to try to save the world as they knew it. After many births

 

and many years of waiting, none of the children could undo

 

the spell.

 

Patric also said that Peter must be a gifted child to

 

be born out of the world of Baja. "A ghost can not survive

 

out of the realms of Baja and on Earth.” He went on to say that for years and centuries nothing like this had ever

 

been done.

 

Peter was the first ghost to be born on the side of

 

the dead to the living. More importantly, Peter was born

 

outside of Baja. No childbirth had ever been successful

 

outside of Baja. Jane wanted to get up and leave, but every

 

time she did, Mr. Stewart would bring her back in with his

 

charm. Jane and Sam finally gave in and told Mr. Stewart

 

that Peter would attend Waldorf Academy.

 

Mr. Stewart was excited and told Jane he could not

 

wait, but Sam had a strange feeling about Patric.

 

Nevertheless, he agreed and didn't listen to his gut

 

feelings. Sam was still concerned about his parents, but

 

they had so many things to do. He told his father he would

 

be gone all day and to take care of his mother.

 

"Peter, come on. Time to go," shouted Jane.

 

Peter came running down the stairs. Jane told him

 

about his new school and how he will love it. Peter was so

 

excited! He was ready to go, rushing out the door, leaving

 

his lunch and everything behind.

 

"Slow down, son," said Sam in a precautionary sort of

 

way.

 

All of the Carrot-Tops family went to a wonderful

 

school for all the gifted children in Baja. Jane and Sam were excited for their son. For the first time in a long

 

time, Peter would feel like he belonged.

 

As the family stepped outside, ready to go, Red Fox

 

pulled up in a white and gold flying vessel. What a beauty!

 

The vessel was very clean, and the white paint shone in the

 

sun. The peanut butter colored leather seats were

 

exquisite. The vessel was like nothing anyone had ever seen

 

before, except for Sam's father.

 

David was not only a creator of toys and gadgets, but

 

also the futuristic weapons and transportation in Baja. Red

 

Fox explained to Sam that David wanted his grandson to go

 

to school in style. He also explained to Sam that this

 

transportation was hidden in the caves below the house.

 

David hid it well to protect and preserve it when they were

 

banished out of Baja.

 

Sam went over to the vessel and slowly touched it. It

 

had wings like a bird that spanned out for miles. The car

 

slowly and silently hovered over one spot. Sam was

 

impressed by his father's work, and looked toward the

 

window where his father was, and gave him a thumb’s up.

 

"Jump in," said Red Fox.

 

Peter ran toward the vessel and the doors

 

automatically opened. Inside was totally awesome.

 

Everything could be run by an invisible force. Red Fox and Sam were in the front seat as Jane and

 

Peter sat in the back. Sam loved the way the vessel took

 

off; for once, a happy childhood smile crossed his face. He

 

was like a kid again. The ride to Peter's new school was a

 

fun trip. At last, the family began to see a newly

 

developed Baja, a planet they had so long missed and hoped

 

for.

 

Fairies in their pink, blue and green dresses followed

 

the car and waved to the family. Oh, yes! Baja was unique

 

in itself. Peter tugged on his mother's skirt as he saw

 

giants and their kids sliding down a huge Beanstalk. At the

 

right rear of the window, Jane glanced out and saw her

 

neighborhood, and a sudden rush of emotions came over her.

 

"Are you okay, mother?" asked Peter.

 

"Yes, son, I was just thinking of all the fun I had

 

when I was a kid."

 

Peter smiled and continued to look out of the window.

 

There were so many things to see in the skies, from falling

 

rainbows, to giant plants. It was all new and unique to

 

him, so he took in all the sights. The vessel moved so fast

 

and silent, everyone was pointing and calling out to the

 

skies.

 

"Look!" said a woman taking her kids to school.

 

Everyone's eyes were fixed on the skies. There was a massive object up there that no one had ever seen before.

 

Everyone gathered around, from police officers to news

 

reporters.

 

"We have a welcoming committee," said Jane.

 

Red Fox lowered the massive object, ordering the crowd

 

to make room through a loud speaker. Everyone moved, and

 

the door flew open.

 

"Who's inside?" asked a bystander to a reporter.

 

Then through the doors walked the Carrot-Tops family.

 

People began to take pictures and walked up to Peter trying

 

to shake his hand or even touch him. Peter loved all the

 

attention, but not Sam. His mind was on the war at hand.

 

But as any good parent, he played to the crowd, and then

 

walked in the school. This school was huge; over one

 

million students, and each one of them had a gift of some

 

kind and came from galaxies near and far away.

 

Up above in the skies was a unicorn race. This was a

 

part of an annual school sport, some unicorns and their

 

riders were dressed in red and the others in black. They

 

flew through the skies dodging and jumping through

 

invisible rings that appeared and then disappeared.

 

"Oh, boy! That looks like fun," said Peter.

 

"Don't worry, son. You can join once you start your

 

new school," said Jane. As the family walked into the school, they were

 

greeted by Mr. Stewart. "I have been expecting you, come on

 

in.”

 

Jane and Peter were all smiles, but Sam was not too

 

happy with Mr. Stewart. For some reason, he had a bad

 

feeling about Mr. Stewart. As the family walked to Mr.

 

Stewart's office, there was very little talking until Sam

 

asked, “Why do you want my son here? Is it because of his

 

abilities, or you just want to exploit him?"

 

"Neither, I just want a young man this gifted to

 

attend one of the brightest schools in the land," replied

 

Mr. Stewart with a devilish grin on his face.

 

As the family stepped into the office, it was like

 

walking into a freezing storm. The office was very cold, so

 

that their breath froze in mid-air.

 

"It's cold, Mother!" shouted Peter.

 

"I will adjust the heat," said Mr. Stewart.

 

Within minutes, the office was nice and toasty.

 

"Why is it so cold?" asked Jane.

 

"Well, I suffer from a rare illness. I need to be cool

 

at all times," said Mr. Stewart, and he motioned the

 

Carrot-Tops to take a seat.

 

As the family sat down, they were treated like

 

royalty. Servants brought hot cocoa for Peter and brisk tea for Mr. and Mrs. Carrot-Tops. Mr. Stewart looked Peter all

 

over, from his orange hair to his different colored shoes.

 

All Mr. Stewart would say is "Ummh, hmm." It made the

 

Carrot-Tops very suspicious of him; so suddenly Jane

 

grabbed Peter from Mr. Stewart's hands and sat him on her

 

lap.

 

"What are you looking for?" asked Sam.

 

"Just to see if the boy is truly the one," said Mr.

 

Stewart.

 

He went on to tell the Carrot-Tops that most kids in

 

this school had some sort of power, but none like Peter's

 

-- so powerful and well controlled for a boy his age.

 

Unlike Peter, all the children were born in Baja. Peter was

 

the only ghost child born on Earth and out of the world of

 

the living dead.

 

Mr. Stewart also told Peter's parents that most of the

 

kids' powers only lasted a while and never returned. That's

 

why there were so many kids at the school. Baja was short

 

on talented and powerful kids. Once a child's powers left

 

them, they were given a pension and kicked out of Waldorf

 

Academy. This was very displeasing to the Carrot-Tops, and

 

they let Mr. Stewart know how very unhappy they were with

 

him.

 

Nevertheless, Mr. Stewart did not care about the Carrot-Tops liking him. All he wanted was to bring the

 

elders back from hibernation and get Baja back as one of

 

the most powerful ghost worlds. Sam wanted the same thing,

 

but not at the expense of his son, or any other child.

 

As the family continued to talk to Mr. Stewart, Peter

 

noticed the lion's head and eyes moving, but when he looked

 

again, the movement would stop. Mr. Stewart's office was

 

very weird and strange, as if they were in another

 

dimension. Every once in a while, Peter noticed ghostly

 

figures walking by, yet none of the adults were able to see

 

them.

 

"You have many spirits in your office!" shouted Peter.

 

"What do you mean, son?" asked Sam.

 

Peter explained to his parents that he saw figures

 

moving back and forth, in and out of Mr. Stewart's wall.

 

"Nonsense! What an imagination," said Mr. Stewart.

 

"But it's the truth," said Peter.

 

"Hush," said Jane to Peter.

 

"Our son never lies, Mr. Stewart. Something is in your

 

office, that's why it is so cold," said Sam.

 

"Nothing is here, check if you like," said Mr. Stewart.

 

Peter ran over to the wall and began to slowly touch

 

it. He could feel an eerie finger run across his face, but

 

when he turned around the figure was gone. He quickly shouted to his parents, but no one could see the figure, so

 

Peter gave up trying to convince the adults of what he was

 

seeing.

 

As his parents and Mr. Stewart talked, Peter eyes were

 

intensely fixed on the walls. They seemed to stretch up and

 

down, longer and longer. The colors seemed to blend into

 

one. Suddenly, a strange figure jumped out of the walls and

 

disappeared so quickly Peter could not keep up.

 

By Mr. Stewart's emotions, he knew what was in the

 

walls. He gave a phony grin to Peter's parents, and every

 

once in a while, he would glance at Peter. For some reason,

 

Mr. Stewart was not to be trusted. He seemed to be a very

 

secretive man, and could be in more than one place at a

 

time.

 

Peter knew he would have to convince his parents that

 

something was very wrong with Mr. Stewart, and now was not

 

the time. He also knew his mother wanted the best for him,

 

and he wanted to make his mother happy.

 

As his parents talked to Mr. Stewart, the ghostly

 

figure came out again, motioning to Peter to hush and

 

watch. Peter watched the figure as it rumbled through Mr.

 

Stewart's office. The ghost had no face, just a long black

 

hood that covered it from head to toe. Every time the

 

figure came in the room, the temperature seemed to drop. Suddenly the room began to form ice, and then snow!

 

As Peter went to motion to his parents, he froze. He

 

was solid like a block of ice. His face was pale, and his

 

skin turned white. As he looked toward his parents, they

 

were also frozen in their seats. Jane was frozen as she let

 

out a burst of laughter, and her breath was frozen in thin

 

air. Sam was taking off his glasses as he was frozen. The

 

only thing Peter could do was move his eyes back and forth.

 

He glanced at the ghost talking to Mr. Stewart, but

 

could not make out the words. The strange figure looked

 

back and glanced at Peter with his faceless head. This was

 

frightening to Peter, and he began to scream. But his

 

screams were frozen solid, and all that was left was the

 

frozen air.

 

Peter drifted off to sleep in the block of ice. He

 

could vaguely see the hooded ghost leaving, and then the

 

temperature went slowly back to normal. Things began to

 

melt quickly, and Mr. Stewart called in a group of little

 

fairies to clean up the place. They came in to dry the

 

place with the air from their wings. A thousand of them

 

were like a whirlwind. The fairies spun and twirled as some

 

of their wings flickered with different lights. Then it was

 

as if a sand storm touched down. The fairies worked until

 

everything was thawed and the office was dry again. Peter and his parents began to wake up out of the

 

frozen block of ice. No one knew what had happened. It was

 

as if time stopped and then started again, but Peter knew

 

something was wrong. He told his parents he wanted to

 

leave, but not until Mr. Stewart charmed Peter with stories

 

of playing with children his age and riding the magic

 

rainbow and Beanstalks. Peter did not want to lose the

 

opportunity to see more of Baja and to make new friends.

 

"Well, Peter, you still want to leave?" asked Mr.

 

Stewart.

 

"No, sir!” Peter shouted.

 

"Come, let me take you on a tour of the school," said

 

Mr. Stewart.

 

Peter and Jane were very excited, but Sam still had a

 

feeling that something wasn't right. He went along with Mr.

 

Stewart and his ideas. All Sam wanted was for his son to

 

attend a prestigious school. Mr. Stewart hurried the family

 

out of the office with his sly grin, a grin that never

 

seemed to wipe from his face. Every day he wore the same

 

smile as if it were painted on.

 

Mr. Stewart called for his secretary, and off they

 

went through the school. "Are you ready to see your

 

future?" Mr. Stewart asked Peter.

 

"Yes, sir, show me," said Peter. The family and Mr. Stewart walked up to a giant door.

 

Peter could hardly see all the way to the top. The door

 

read “Waldorf Academy” and had an etched drawing of seven

 

warriors and a group of lions.

 

Peter and his family stared at the image repeatedly,

 

it was fine art. The images seemed to be moving. Peter and

 

his family took a closer look at the lions, and when they

 

got closer to the image, the lions began to move. Peter

 

rubbed his eyes thinking he was imagining things. As he

 

looked back to the art, the lion jumped out. Both Jane and

 

Peter covered their faces, and when they looked back,

 

everything was back to normal.

 

"Honey, did you see that?" asked Jane.

 

"No," replied Sam.

 

"I saw it, Mother," said Peter.

 

Suddenly, the door gave way and parted in half. It

 

slowly opened, but Peter and his family could see a little

 

bit of the school, and what Peter saw, he loved.

 

"Oh, what a beauty!" said Peter.

 

"What, son?" asked Sam.

 

Peter explained to his parents that he saw a large

 

flying fish. Then the doors completely opened. Peter was

 

right! The place was like heaven, children were everywhere,

 

and the scenery was out of this world. Some of the children were riding flying fish in the air. The fish were

 

multicolored; some were red, white, orange, green and blue.

 

The children were strapped in tight to each fish, holding a

 

leash. The fish were all different species; there were

 

whales, sting rays, sharks and marlins.

 

One of the children swooped down so Peter could take a

 

closer look at the animal. This creature was beautiful; his

 

blue big bugged eyes glanced at Peter and everything around

 

him. Then it began to lick itself. It was covered in white

 

with blue polka dots. This was something Peter had never

 

seen and he was very impressed.

 

"Mother, look! It's out of the water and on land,"

 

said Peter.

 

"Yes, dear. Baja is full of surprises," replied Jane.

 

Peter went up to touch the animal and it took off into

 

the skies.

 

"Oh! It's okay, son. It's a little shy, you will have

 

to train it," said Sam.

 

What a magnificent creature. It looked like a silver

 

metal animal; its skin glittered in the sun as it flew

 

away. Then Mr. Stewart took the family closer to the river

 

that was flooded with a milk-like substance. There were

 

kids riding magic seahorses.

 

The children sat on the seahorses with leather saddles. There was a race going on, and each seahorse had a

 

number printed on its side. Just like the other animals of

 

Baja, they were just as beautiful and charming. The

 

seahorses were at least ten to twelve feet tall, and the

 

same or more in length. On them were the magical symbols of

 

Baja. Their skin was made out of some type of flexible

 

metal; they looked almost like they had skin made of silver.

 

There were only three types -- white, black and gold,

 

and pink. Pink was the rarest according to Mr. Stewart. To

 

acquire these types of seahorses, hunters had to travel to

 

the Black Forest where it was very dangerous, so seahorses

 

came at a very expensive price. Mr. Stewart glanced over at

 

Sam as he was talking to Peter about the seahorses,

 

assuming that Sam had no money if his son wanted the

 

seahorse.

 

Sam just nodded at Mr. Stewart, knowing his

 

intentions, "If my son wants it, I will purchase it for

 

him," he demanded.

 

Jane looked out and whispered in her husband’s ear,

 

"Honey, you know we are not established yet. We can't

 

afford this school or anything in it.”

 

"Don't worry, honey. I will find a way," Sam said.

 

At this time, Mr. Stewart was smirking because he

 

heard everything that was said. He replied, "If you agree that Peter can stay here, I will supply all his needs and

 

wants.”

 

"No, no, we can afford it," said Sam as he looked at

 

Mr. Stewart in a vengeful way.

 

As the adults talked, Peter watched the race and

 

cheered on the winner. The other children began to stare

 

and point. "There goes the boy who was born out of Baja,"

 

one child said. They all stopped and watched as Peter took

 

a tour through the school.

 

Then suddenly, Clara Cabbage stepped forward and

 

yelled, "Peter, Peter! Remember me? It's Clara from the

 

Captain Johnny ride."

 

Peter ran to Clara and gave her a big hug. "Yes, I

 

remember you. How could I forget one of the most tomboyish

 

girls?”

 

Clara took that as a compliment and began to blush.

 

The two friends hugged again, and Peter introduced Clara to

 

his parents.

 

"What a beautiful girl you are," said Jane to Clara.

 

The school bell sounded. "We must go, but I will see

 

you around," said Clara.

 

Jane and Sam were shocked to see Peter had a friend

 

already, mostly because it was a girl.

 

"See, he's making friends already," said Mr. Stewart. "Oh, Mother and Father! Can I go to this school,

 

pleeease? I love it!" said Peter.

 

"But you haven't even seen all of it," said Sam.

 

So, Mr. Stewart took them further into the gates.

 

There was plenty to do at Waldorf Academy, from swimming,

 

riding seahorses, seeing flying fish and going to the moon.

 

There were also trips to the giant and the Beanstalk, and

 

the magic classes along with regular academics. The

 

building that housed the students was humongous.

 

The school was built like a castle with over 200,000

 

rooms. The grounds had to be mowed by beavers and very fat

 

cows. The castle school was all brick and had the emblems

 

of the elders. This school was almost like stepping back

 

into the Egyptian era. There were columns upon columns of

 

hieroglyphics on the walls and all over the building.

 

There were statues of pharaohs; some were huge while

 

others were small to medium. It was very intriguing to

 

Peter. He’d read about Egyptians on Earth, but never

 

thought he would ever see something like this in his

 

lifetime. Everyone was impressed. Even Sam had to admit the

 

school was great for his son. As the tour went on, guards

 

stood by the doors guarding entrances and exits.

 

"Why all the guards?" asked Sam.

 

"Well, these kids are the keys to Baja. Some may be worthwhile in the future, and it is my responsibility to

 

make sure they are safe,” said Mr. Stewart. “Besides, these

 

children belong to the richest citizens of Baja. If

 

anything happened to their children, it would be my head!"

 

Sam liked the fact that security was tight, and these

 

were no ordinary security guards. These were monsters and

 

giants that were built like mountains. They were huge! On

 

their faces and bodies were the symbols of Baja, burned

 

into their flesh. Some guards carried sticks; some carried

 

big clubs like in the caveman era. Their eyes were always

 

glancing back and forth over the children, making sure

 

everyone was accounted for. These monsters could sense

 

danger and fear a mile away.

 

Peter gazed upon the huge monsters, making eye contact

 

with them, but to the monsters, Peter was just the size of

 

a mere ant. "This place is a dream!" shouted Peter.

 

"I am so glad you like it," replied Mr. Stewart.

 

As the family continued to walk inside, the place

 

became even more beautiful. There were huge plants that

 

whistled and burped out bubbles.

 

"And who made these plants, Peter?" asked Sam.

 

"Mother!" shouted Peter.

 

"You're right, my son," interrupted Mr. Stewart.

 

The plants were so beautiful. Jane had taught them how to talk and communicate with people. The plants had become

 

family. When the plants saw the Carrot-Tops coming, they

 

shrank down to size. "Our mother has returned!" shouted one

 

of the plants, and they all came slithering down. One by

 

one, they used their leaves to pick Jane up into their arms

 

and spun her around.

 

"Oh, how we missed you," said one of the plants.

 

"I missed you too," said Jane.

 

Everyone laughed and had a ball. Jane explained to

 

Peter that they had had to leave before she could see her

 

plants fully grown, and at that time, they were still in

 

flower pots.

 

"So someone must have taken them," replied Sam

 

sarcastically as he looked over to Mr. Stewart.

 

"Well, all I can say is that I acquired them from a

 

close friend, before you two left Baja," said Mr. Stewart.

 

Jane also introduced Peter to the flowers and plants.

 

They all put their leaves together and began to clap

 

vigorously as he stepped forward.

 

"The boy king has arrived!" shouted the plants. One

 

plant took her leaves and looked Peter over from head to

 

toe.

 

"He is perfect. I have never seen a child born outside

 

of Baja that lived to tell about it," said the plant. "We must go," said Mr. Stewart.

 

For some reason, Mr. Stewart wanted the family away

 

from the plants. He wanted something kept a secret. Mr.

 

Stewart pushed and hurried the family on with the tour. But

 

there was no more convincing Peter, and his family was

 

hooked. Waldorf Academy was a great school for Peter, and

 

Baja was a great place for his family. As the school bell

 

rang, the classes let out, and the hallways were packed

 

with children.

 

All the kids managed to get a look at Peter. Some ran

 

up to touch him, while others stayed back and looked him

 

over. There were whispers through the crowds of the boy

 

king. Word passed so fast through the school, but Peter was

 

more excited to see them than they were to see him.

 

"Kids, I want to introduce you to Mr. Peter Carrot

 

Tops and his family," said Mr. Stewart.

 

The children began to clap and welcome Peter to

 

Waldorf Academy. Jane and Sam were happy to see their son

 

finally fitting in with his peers, so they pulled Mr.

 

Stewart aside and told him they would be pleased to let

 

their son attend the school. Mr. Stewart just gave that

 

sneaky, weird smile that he always did.

 

Out of nowhere, Mr. Stewart magically pulled out a

 

contract and asked the Carrot-Tops to sign. He explained to them that it was just a standard contract that all parents

 

had to sign and made the Carrot-Tops believe it was just

 

for enrollment. As they signed the contract, blood began to

 

fall from the pen ink, and then it turned back into ink.

 

Jane and Sam did a double take, they weren't sure of what

 

they were seeing, but they looked at the joy on Peter's

 

face and continued to sign. Once the signatures were on the

 

paper, Mr. Stewart could care less about anything else.

 

What the contract said, they would never know. Mr.

 

Stewart took off waving his hands and told Peter's parents

 

to have him back at Waldorf at 8:00 a.m. every morning, and

 

he let his secretary lead the family out.

 

"Well, I think he got what he wanted," said Jane to

 

Sam.

 

"Well, I have a bad feeling about this too," said Sam.

 

As the family left Waldorf, Peter was still overjoyed

 

from his visit. Jane could hardly keep him still -- he was

 

like a kid on sugar. His parents were happy to see their

 

son was finally excited about something. Jane and Peter

 

stopped at a uniform shop in the village shopping area,

 

while Sam and Red Fox met Samantha Grey in the village to

 

discuss military business.

 

The village was a huge area that looked like a

 

Christmas town. Cobblestones were all through the town with secret codes and hieroglyphics. There were bakery shops,

 

toy stores and many more merchants selling to the citizens

 

of Baja. As Jane and Peter walked through the town,

 

everyone was pointing and staring. Of course the orange

 

hair on Peter made them more noticeable.

 

For Jane, it was great to be back in Baja, her home

 

she had missed so much. Peter and Jane shopped for uniforms

 

for him to start school the next day. It was a fun time for

 

mother and son to spend quality time together. Even though

 

there were friendly stares and pointing, Jane did not let

 

this ruin time with her son.

 

They passed her favorite shop, Cotton Candy Ice Cream.

 

"Oh, Peter, my dear, you have to try this ice cream!" said

 

Jane.

 

Both of them ran up to the store door and inside they

 

went. It was an ice cream shop tucked away in a little

 

corner, and was one of the locals' favorites. The shop was

 

like a candy land -- there was candy decor for miles and

 

miles. Every candy known to man was at this store, but the

 

favorite was cotton candy ice cream. Peter's eyes grew as

 

he saw many selections to choose from. For the first time

 

in a long time, Peter had the choice of pigging out on pure

 

sugar. The shop was very busy; people were walking in and

 

out. There was a jolly old man at the counter waiting to

 

serve children big and small. His name was Mr. Smork. He

 

had a great long blue, purple, yellow and red beard, and

 

long white hair. His laugh was filled with joy and

 

happiness. He remembered Jane from years back.

 

"Welcome back, Jane. Can I get you your favorite of

 

yellow cotton dip?" said Mr. Smork.

 

"You still remember," said Jane.

 

"I will never forget anyone's favorite treats. And who

 

is this young man?" said Mr. Smork.

 

"Hi, I am Peter Carrot-Tops. Could I try the

 

strawberry cotton dip?" said Peter as he extended a

 

handshake to Mr. Smork.

 

"You sure can, young man," said Mr. Smork as he belted

 

out a jolly old laugh.

 

Peter and Jane watched as three little elves made

 

their cotton candy ice cream. The elves began to whip the

 

cotton until it fluffed out of the bowl. Then they added

 

magical sprinkles that made the cotton candy puff up.

 

"Wow, that's the largest ice cream I have ever seen!"

 

said Peter.

 

Jane and Mr. Smork laughed, they were glad to see a

 

child's face full of joy. People began to crowd the store

 

as Jane and Peter were leaving. The news had gotten out, and once again, the little corner ice cream store was in

 

the news.

 

"Bye, Mr. Smork!" shouted Peter as he and his mother

 

walked away.

 

People began to push and shove just to get a look at

 

the boy king and his royal family. Peter and Jane walked

 

the cobblestone streets skipping and eating their ice cream.

 

"Oh, this is so good, Mother!” proclaimed Peter.

 

Off they went to sit on a bench in the park where

 

Peter and his mom talked about starting a new school and

 

how Peter must be very careful of the power he now had.

 

Peter took his mother's advice and gave her a big kiss on

 

the cheek. From there it went on to laughter and tickles,

 

Peter laughed with happiness.

 

"Mother, I am truly happy here in Baja," said Peter.

 

"Don't you miss Georgia?" Jane asked.

 

"No, I never fit in, but now I am in a place where I

 

truly belong and people accept me for who I am," said Peter.

 

Then off they went. Peter and Jane hit the toy store

 

named Santa's Box. Peter could not believe his eyes. It was

 

like an amusement park. There were rides, reindeer and

 

contests. It was the place everyone wanted to be, and it

 

even snowed inside. Peter ran up to the door as a

 

nutcracker greeted him, but Jane stood outside and gazed at the store. It was the way she last saw it, the big doll and

 

teddy bear hanging from the roof, and the big face of her

 

picture as a little girl in the center.

 

This store was built in her honor by Sam's father to

 

help all the kids of Baja to have toys, whether it be for

 

birthdays or Christmas. It was taken away from her and her

 

family when they were exiled out of Baja. Jane tried to

 

control her emotions, but was unsuccessful at it. Peter

 

came running back, asking his mother what was the matter.

 

She explained the story of her picture and how the store

 

was once owned by their family.

 

Peter gazed up at his mother's baby picture and belted

 

out, "Mother, you are so pretty."

 

Jane just smiled, held onto Peter's hand and walked

 

into the store. It was truly a toy land. There were life

 

size riding trains, dolls, stuffed animals and all the

 

latest toys a child could want. The atmosphere was filled

 

with joy and children laughing. It was as if Peter and Jane

 

had walked into Santa's North Pole. Peter took off and

 

began to play with the disappearing flying balls.

 

Suddenly, a short, stout old lady approached Jane.

 

This lady was very short; she only came up to Jane’s knees!

 

She wore her hair in one old-fashioned bun, and let her

 

glasses tilt at her nose. "Mrs. Carrot-Tops," the squeaky voice said.

 

Jane quickly turned around. "Oh! Ms. Sweeney, how are

 

you?"

 

"Fine, now that you're back," said Ms. Sweeney.

 

Jane explained to Ms. Sweeney that they did not own

 

the store anymore, but Ms. Sweeney had great news for Jane.

 

She said that since her family was reinstated, everything

 

that was taken away from them would be given back in full

 

and with interest. Jane could not believe her ears.

 

"Are you serious?" asked Jane, as she shook the

 

daylights out of Ms. Sweeney.

 

The two ladies sat and talked for a while. Ms. Sweeney

 

caught Jane up on as much gossip as she could, then she

 

took Jane by the hand and introduced her to her new staff.

 

Most of the employees were happy to meet her, but they were

 

more interested in Peter. Jane called him over and

 

introduced him to all of her employees.

 

Jane let Peter know that there had been a change of

 

fate, and she would regain ownership of the store. Jane let

 

everyone know that she would be returning to work the next

 

day, but in the meantime, she had to pick up uniforms for

 

Peter. He and Jane left the store waving bye to all her

 

friends. Jane was so excited; she couldn't wait to tell Sam

 

and his father. Chapter 7

 

Betrayal

 

Quickly, Jane stopped by the tailor shop, watching as

 

Peter got fitted for his uniforms by three small chickens.

 

Their shop was called the “Taylor Chicks, where all your

 

tailoring needs are complete.” One worked at the top, one

 

in the middle and one at the bottom. Sometimes all three of

 

them were on top of a table or each other, but they quickly

 

moved like the speed of light, one behind the other.

 

They stitched, sewed, pressed and measured, spinning

 

Peter around and around. He looked as if he was in a

 

whirlwind, but he was enjoying every minute. All Jane could

 

think about was starting back to work at her own business,

 

something she loved doing. She couldn't wait to tell Sam.

 

As the chickens finished tailoring Peter's uniform,

 

they told Jane the uniforms would be ready in an hour and

 

would be delivered promptly.

 

Jane said, ”Thanks,” and off they went to meet Sam,

 

Red Fox and Samantha Grey in the center square.

 

Everyone seemed to be on top of the world. Things

 

seemed to go according to plan, when Jane looked out of the

 

corner of her eye and saw a ghostly figure, just staring and watching every move they made. Peter saw the fear on

 

his mother's face.

 

"What's wrong, mother?" asked Peter, and before Jane

 

could say anything, Peter saw the ghostly figure too. He

 

explained to his mother that this was the same figure he

 

saw on the ride to Baja and in Mr. Stewart's office.

 

"Why didn't you say something?" asked Jane as she

 

shook Peter.

 

He began to cry and Jane quickly hugged her son and

 

apologized for what she had done. As they both turned

 

around, the figure was gone. This was very frightening to

 

Jane and Peter, so they walked faster to the center square

 

to warn Sam about what they had seen. Jane and Peter ran up

 

to the table where Sam, Samantha and Red Fox were sitting.

 

"What's wrong, Mrs. C? You look like you saw a ghost,"

 

said Samantha.

 

"We have," said Peter quickly as he looked over his

 

shoulders in fear.

 

Sam comforted his wife and son, then they all listened

 

to Jane and Peter as they described the ghostly creature.

 

At the same time, the creature appeared again across the

 

street. Peter hid behind his father. This time the ghost

 

seemed to be very angry, not saying a word, just making

 

fighting movements. The onlookers were afraid. People began to scream and panic all over town. No one stayed to fight.

 

Everyone seemed to be afraid of this creature. Dust began

 

to fly through the air in slow motion. Even the dust

 

particles took the form of an angry face and began to scare

 

the people in the square.

 

Sam used his powers to lift the creature into the air

 

as Red Fox attacked it. Jane quickly reached into her purse

 

and pulled out some magic seeds. On the ground, the seeds

 

rolled and suddenly began to grow. Jane put Peter on the

 

branch as it grew taller and taller into the air.

 

Samantha Grey jumped in to help Red Fox as they fought

 

with the creature, but it seemed to have remarkable

 

strength. Sam was having a hard time using his abilities to

 

keep the creature in the air. Sam was growing weaker and

 

weaker by the minute. He fell to the ground, still trying

 

to keep his powers going, but whatever it was, it was

 

draining him dry.

 

He finally let go and the ghost fell to the ground,

 

but Red Fox and Samantha kept on hitting and fighting the

 

creature. Samantha used her kung fu and every martial art

 

form she knew, but the creature was hitting her from right

 

to left, throwing her around like a rag doll.

 

Peter saw his family in trouble, and he slid down the

 

tree branch and began to work his powers on the ghost. Back and forth Peter grew holes, swallowing up the ghost. Sparks

 

began to fly from the ghost. Colors burst out of his eyes.

 

Red, blue and green flames sprayed into the air like a

 

comet.

 

But the creature still had a lot of fight left in him,

 

and as he was about to get up, Peter created a hole small

 

enough to bind the ghost so it couldn't move. All one could

 

see was the ghost’s head, the rest of the body was hidden

 

in the hole.

 

"Great job, son," said Sam.

 

Samantha and Red Fox patted Peter on the back. Sam

 

walked up to the creature as it began to mumble and foamed

 

at the mouth. The noise the creature made was crushingly

 

painful to the ear. Sam grabbed it by the neck.

 

"Who are you?" he demanded.

 

The creature would not answer, and suddenly Sam ripped

 

off the ghostly cape in anger to find a little devilish

 

looking troll. It was covered in mud, and the smell was

 

outrageous. Everyone held their breath as the odor swept

 

past their noses.

 

"Oh! My goodness, you stink!" said Red Fox.

 

"And so does your mother," said the creature.

 

Red Fox was not amused and went to punch the creature

 

before Sam stopped him. "Once again, why are you here?" asked Sam.

 

The creature began to whistle and roll its big black

 

eyes around and around in circles, but never answered.

 

Samantha Grey stepped forward and kicked the creature.

 

"Okay, calm down," said the creature to Samantha.

 

"We want answers, and we want them now," said Samantha

 

as the creature caught its breath.

 

It told of how Marcus Carrot-Top paid him to keep an

 

eye on his brother and his family. "I was promised a palace

 

in the kingdom when it crumbles from the fall of the

 

elders," said the creature.

 

"Where is Marcus now?" asked Sam.

 

The creature explained that Marcus was in the forest

 

with the seven wizards. He advised Sam not to go there

 

because his powers were weak and no match for his brother.

 

He began to chuckle at Sam. Sam immediately grabbed him up

 

and ordered Red Fox and Samantha to take it to the prison.

 

"No, no, not the prison! I hate it there," squealed

 

the creature.

 

Red Fox and Samantha grabbed the creature by its neck

 

and pulled it out of the hole.

 

As the creature passed Peter, he whispered, "You don't

 

look like a boy king. You can't stop what is coming."

 

Samantha grabbed him by the neck and threw the creature into a wooden box, and off they went.

 

Peter was a little shaken up and he ran to his father

 

with a big hug. "I’m all right, son, and thanks," said Sam.

 

Jane joined in on the hug as the crowd looked on and

 

clapped. "Something is truly wrong, and we will get to the

 

bottom of this," said Jane.

 

"Oh! No, just me alone will do it. I can't risk you

 

getting hurt. I can't ask you to follow me again," said Sam

 

to Jane.

 

With a stern voice, Jane let Sam know that they were a

 

family, and as a family, they would fight together, and no

 

questions asked.

 

"Yeah, Dad, we can do it," said Peter.

 

"Relax, squirt, I want you to have a normal life, not

 

a life of fighting," said Sam, but Peter was not accepting

 

that. He was going to fight on the same side as his father.

 

After an exciting day, the Carrot-Tops were finally on

 

their way home, but Jane wanted to make a stop at her old

 

home to look for her parents. Finally, she had the courage

 

to face her fears of her family disowning her.

 

The road was long, quiet and very dark. A sparrow in

 

the tree made a calling sound as if warning someone was

 

coming. Suddenly, the noise stopped and the trees and

 

shrubs began to shake violently. All that was noticeable were large shadows and yellow cat’s eyes.

 

Jane told Peter to get down lower to the floor of

 

their vehicle. She knew something was very wrong. Then, out

 

of the darkness, a big black cat jumped in front of them.

 

It was the size of ten polar bears. Symbols glowed in the

 

darkness and gave light to a nametag which read “Oscar.”

 

Jane's eyes grew bigger and bigger as the cat claws poked

 

out, ready for an attack.

 

"Oscar, it is me, Jane," Jane shouted.

 

The cat stopped for a minute and began to talk. "It is

 

impossible," said the cat.

 

"No, it is I," said Jane.

 

As Jane repeated her name, the cat began to break down

 

and cover its ear, rolling in the middle of the road. With

 

caution, Jane and Sam stepped out of the sky vessel and

 

approached the humongous cat.

 

"What's wrong?" Jane asked Oscar.

 

"All these years, we waited for you to return and you

 

never came. Now in front of my eyes, here you stand," he

 

said.

 

The cat's eyes were dead, and its rough scruffy voice

 

sounded as if he had seen better days. Oscar explained to

 

Jane that they had been fighting the silent war between

 

Baja and the wizards of the dark forest, and their leader was an evil man named Marcus.

 

Sam blushed with disappointment when he heard the name

 

of his brother. Anger and disappointment filled his heart,

 

so Sam questioned the cat. "Why is there a war? What has my

 

brother done this time?"

 

Oscar was very reluctant to talk to Sam. He took his

 

nose and nudged Jane into a corner to speak with her

 

privately. Sam was very upset and threw his hat to the

 

floor, demanding the cat come back at once. Oscar ignored

 

Sam and kept on talking to Jane.

 

Meanwhile, Peter looked out from the sky vessel and

 

watched all the action. Oscar told Jane that Marcus was

 

building a league of monsters to attack Baja because he

 

wanted to become king and ruler over the ten thousand

 

cities in Baja. Oscar explained that while Jane and her

 

family were banned from Baja, they were not forgotten and

 

were deeply missed. He told her that her family was safe,

 

and was running an underground safe house so when the war

 

began, at least some citizens of Baja would be able to

 

escape.

 

Jane was still in awe over the size Oscar had grown

 

to. She began to rub her hands through his coat, back and

 

forth. She reminisced of all the fun she’d had with Oscar

 

and her childhood home. Oscar then gave her a wet slobbery lick on the face to wake her up. Jane snapped out of her

 

dream world and asked about her parents.

 

Oscar pointed with his huge claws. "They are over

 

there."

 

Behind a twelve-foot iron gate lay Jane's childhood

 

home. Through those doors was where she would find her

 

parents. She ran back to the car to inform Sam of all the

 

information she had learned from Oscar, and that her

 

parents where on the other side. She was quite nervous to

 

see her parents; for years they blamed Sam for their

 

daughter's banishment.

 

Before they pulled up to the gates, Oscar stuck his

 

big head through the sky vessel window. "And who is this

 

little one, Jane?"

 

"This is Peter, my son," said Jane.

 

"Yes! The boy king who shall save Baja; I look forward

 

to serving you," said Oscar.

 

Peter was still hiding low to the ground but managed

 

to peek for just a second. He could not keep his eyes off

 

of Oscar. "What a huge cat, Mother!" said Peter.

 

"Well, he wasn't always that big. I think it was the

 

milk," said Jane jokingly.

 

Then Jane began to choke from nervousness. She was

 

afraid to meet her parents, but she knew deep down in her heart she had to make things right.

 

Oscar gave the guards at the gate the sign to let the

 

car through and they did. The big iron gates opened and

 

Oscar's shadow could still be seen several feet away. As

 

Jane's eyes caught sight of her old home, her eyes began to

 

tear up. Sam held his wife's hands closely and gave them a

 

big squeeze.

 

"Honey, it will be all right. We are Carrot-Tops. We

 

will make it as always," said Sam.

 

As they approached Jane's old house, everything seemed

 

to have died. All the plants and trees she’d grown were

 

withered and dead. The place almost looked deserted, but

 

Jane and her family got out of the sky vessel and

 

approached the house.

 

A butler opened the door. In his old scruffy voice he

 

asked, "Jane, is that you?"

 

"Yes, it's me, Willard, and I brought my family," said

 

Jane.

 

Willard the butler began to tear up and hurried to let

 

them in. Jane looked around the house. What a disaster! The

 

house looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years. Stray

 

animals were running through the house and so were homeless

 

people.

 

"Where is Mother, Willard?" asked Jane. "She will be back any minute now, Madame Burgandy,"

 

said Willard.

 

"No, it's Mrs. Carrot-Top now, Willard," said Jane.

 

Willard apologized and began to look Jane over from

 

head to toe. Jane introduced Peter and Sam.

 

"What is going on, Willard? This place looks

 

depressing and dilapidated," said Jane.

 

Willard explained to Jane that after she left, her

 

mother could not take the isolation from her friends and

 

the people of Baja, and began to keep to herself and threw

 

a pity party. He told Jane that they did everything to try

 

to get her back into the swing of things. Nothing worked,

 

until one day, Jane's mother had a vision from the elders

 

that Jane and her family would return.

 

Willard explained that this was the only time her

 

mother ever got out of bed, and now she was fighting the

 

evil spirits to free Baja and its people. As the story got

 

intense, Jane sent Peter to sit by the fireplace, out of

 

adult conversation. But Peter could still hear everything,

 

and it also helped that he put his ears to the walls.

 

Willard told Jane and Sam that a war was coming, and

 

the people of Baja needed to get ready. He said it seemed

 

everyone was so lackadaisical about fighting, and it felt

 

like Baja was too peaceful to ever be in a war. But Marcus Carrot-Top and the seven wizards were coming, and coming

 

with an army of demons and imps.

 

This was why Jane's mother, Mrs. Burgandy, started an

 

underground army with tunnels and secret passages built to

 

house the people of Baja once the war came. Mrs. Burgandy

 

was so busy she let the place go.

 

"And where is my father?" asked Jane.

 

Willard stalled for a minute, but Jane wanted an

 

answer and she wanted it now. He told her it was too much

 

for her father to handle, and he walked out and was never

 

heard from again. There were search parties and even a

 

visit to the Oracle, but Mr. Burgandy was never found.

 

Everything was just as he left it. Jane was very upset at

 

her father for leaving her mother all alone, but she also

 

blamed herself.

 

She walked through the house, trying to turn back the

 

hands of time, wondering and wishing that she could go back

 

into her childhood days and spend time with her father;

 

wishing that she could undo all the wrongs and make them

 

right.

 

Jane went to her old bedroom and everything was still

 

the same. Even though her mother was upset that Jane

 

disgraced the family, she still loved Jane and missed her

 

dearly. In Jane's room there were antique dolls and old doll houses. The pink ruffled bed set was still on the bed

 

collecting dust. The place looked like it had never been

 

touched since she got married and left home. On her bed

 

laid an old doll, one she had never seen before. The eyes

 

began to glow and a strange sensation began to come over

 

Jane.

 

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted a creepy

 

image. When she turned around, it had disappeared. Jane was

 

very frightened and began running and screaming down the

 

stairs. She told Willard and Sam what she had seen.

 

"They're everywhere," said Willard.

 

"Who?" asked Jane.

 

Willard explained to Jane that the creatures of the

 

forest were all over Baja. They were filthy creatures

 

created by the seven wizards and Marcus. They were imps of

 

the underworld, and they mostly came out at night, but had

 

been seen in the daytime as well. Willard began to look for

 

his magical book of secrets.

 

"What's that for?" asked Peter.

 

The huge book was purple and the pages were made of

 

thin cloth, layer by layer, until it weighed over fifty

 

pounds. The book had the same symbols as everything in

 

Baja, and it glowed back and forth like a breathing motion.

 

"Where did you get that?" asked Jane. Willard told Jane and the rest of her family that he

 

got the book from a magical store on the outskirts of Baja,

 

but he really didn't know how to use it. All he knew was

 

that when something evil came around, the book opened and

 

did what it was supposed to do.

 

"Let me give it a try," said Peter.

 

It had a big dial on the cover and a lock on the back.

 

Willard watched intensely as Peter opened the book. Once

 

the right combination was given and set, it popped open and

 

a bright light shone through the house as if it was

 

scanning the room. The light was so bright, but yet there

 

were no visible images. Suddenly, blood-curdling screams

 

came from all over the house. It was like echoes of horror.

 

Everyone covered their ears; the sound was so overwhelming

 

to their ear drums.

 

Then bubbles of smoke began to burst as the creatures

 

began dying. Apparently the creatures were all over the

 

home. They were invisible to the naked eye. No one knew

 

that they were there. One by one, they burst into a cloud

 

of smoke and fumes. The smell was horrible, and disgusting

 

blue and green guts splashed the walls and everything in

 

their path. It was the grossest thing to see, but Peter

 

thought it was very impressive.

 

"Willard, we're going to leave. Tell Mother I will talk to her later," said Jane.

 

"Wait, how did you do that, son?" Willard asked Peter.

 

"I don't know," said Peter.

 

As they were leaving, Jane's mother showed up. It was

 

not the same lady she had known all of her life.

 

"Mother, is that you?" asked Jane.

 

"No! It's the grim reaper," said Jane's mother, Mrs.

 

Burgandy. The comment was sarcastic and rude.

 

Mrs. Burgandy did not seem as if she was happy to see

 

Jane. She looked rundown, and her clothing was ruffled and

 

dirty. Her hair was a mess, like birds were making it their

 

home, and her nails were long and dirty. Jane looked her

 

mother over from head to toe and could not believe what she

 

was seeing; Jane was stunned for a minute and did not know

 

what to say. She stared at her mother. Her mother stared

 

back, but the look Jane was getting from her mother was

 

cold and callous.

 

Jane did not know the woman standing in front of her.

 

She was not like Willard had made her out to be. Mrs.

 

Burgandy did not miss her daughter, nor did she care if

 

Jane was safe or not.

 

"This is all your fault for marrying Sam Carrot-Top,"

 

said Mrs. Burgandy.

 

She pushed Jane out of the way, as if she was rubbish on the side of a street corner. Jane was hurt and tried to

 

call out for her mother, but Mrs. Burgandy kept walking

 

into the house. Jane followed her intensely.

 

"Mother, what is wrong with you? Why are you treating

 

me like this?" shouted Jane.

 

Mrs. Burgandy explained to her daughter that she was

 

scorned and verbally abused by the town. She said, after

 

Jane ran off with Sam, the Carrot-Tops became a disgrace.

 

Her daughter was married to one of them, and the people in

 

the town were upset and angry at Mrs. Burgandy for having a

 

disobedient child like Jane.

 

Because of the Carrot-Tops, their family name was also

 

ruined and put to shame, everything was lost. Mrs. Burgandy

 

was no longer the center of attention from the town's upper

 

society. Worst of all, Jane's father up and left, never to

 

be heard from again.

 

The hate showed in Mrs. Burgandy's eyes for her

 

daughter. She wanted Jane to never come back to the house

 

again. All she was concerned about was the loss of her

 

wealth and status in Baja. Jane told her mother she loved

 

her and walked out of the doorway of the old sitting room.

 

Willard passed by and told Jane how sorry he was for

 

lying to her, and that her mother missed her. He said he

 

only did it to have Jane stay. He thought maybe once her mother saw her, she would change her hate into love. Jane

 

accepted Willard's apology and asked him to take care of

 

her mother.

 

Before Jane left, Willard gave the magical book to

 

Peter and told him to take good care of it. As Jane and her

 

family left the Burgandy's mansion, she could not help to

 

look back. Suddenly, everything began to turn to stone, the

 

dried up trees in the courtyard, the starving dog on the

 

front porch. It was like a virus spreading.

 

"Run, run," said Sam as the house began to crumble.

 

Piercing screams filled the air. Jane wanted to run

 

back and help her family, but it was too late. Sam grabbed

 

her by the hand and jumped into the sky vessel, but there

 

were no keys.

 

The stone virus was coming closer and closer, it

 

looked like a tidal wave. Sam jumped out and used his

 

powers to lift him and his family into the air. As they

 

looked down, the house was being swallowed up by a black

 

hole. Everything was going down into the hole. It was as if

 

a wall was crumbling and then being swallowed. Jane saw

 

Oscar trying to escape and was frightened that the stone

 

virus was going to catch him.

 

"Honey! Oscar, help him please," said Jane.

 

With all his energy, Sam lifted Oscar into the air just as the virus was going to attack him. Between helping

 

Oscar and his family, Sam's powers were getting weak. He

 

had to lay them down in a safe area. As soon as the stone

 

virus subsided, Sam set his family down. Everyone caught

 

their breath as they lay on the grass trying to understand

 

what had just happened. Peter ran into his parents' arms as

 

Oscar looked on and panted for air.

 

"What's going on, Oscar?" asked Jane.

 

Oscar explained that rumor had it that her mother made

 

some type of deal with the wizards to get Jane and her

 

family into the house so they could be destroyed. Jane was

 

angry at Oscar for not telling her earlier, but Oscar

 

explained that the prophecy had to come true.

 

"What prophecy?" demanded Sam.

 

"The prophecy that Peter somehow will know how to

 

decode the book and save Baja. Whether you guys like it or

 

not, Peter is the boy king, and I will be his protector,"

 

said Oscar.

 

"So my mother risked her life for us?" said Jane.

 

"Yes," said Oscar.

 

Oscar explained that after Jane and Sam left the city

 

of Baja, many people were upset and turned away Mrs.

 

Burgandy and all her family. There was a curse on the

 

Burgandy and Carrot-Top names, so she made a deal with the seven wizards of the forest.

 

From then on, Mrs. Burgandy gave up on life. Oscar

 

assured Jane that her mother loved her. He said when Mrs.

 

Burgandy found out that Marcus and the seven wizards were

 

behind the fall of Baja, she changed her mind about Sam,

 

but it was too late. She had already made a deal with the

 

devil. In order for her to save Jane and her family's

 

lives, she had to act as if she hated Jane to get her out

 

of the house in time before the stone virus hit. Most

 

important was for the magical book to get passed on to the

 

right hands.

 

The book, for some reason or another, could not leave

 

the house. Everyone who had tried to take it out would

 

burst into flames. Not even Willard could take it out. He

 

didn't even know how to use it. Oscar took his huge paw and

 

patted Jane on the head gently as he comforted her. He

 

reassured Jane that her mother loved her and had to

 

sacrifice herself to save her family. Oscar reminded Jane

 

that there were underground cities and her mother started

 

them all.

 

"The war is coming. We must be ready," said Oscar.

 

"Wait just one minute. How do we know we can trust

 

you?" asked Sam.

 

"Well, I am all you have right now!" said Oscar. "My mission in life is to protect the boy king. I was groomed

 

for this part many, many years ago."

 

Jane looked on in amazement and bewilderment. She

 

never knew when she was pregnant that she would be carrying

 

a baby boy so special.

 

"We must leave, the imps will be coming," said Oscar.

 

As they walked along the debris, Jane looked every

 

once in a while over her shoulder at the home she once

 

knew, and that was now in rubble. She looked for anything

 

that she could pick up and save, but Oscar stopped her.

 

Jane picked up an old locket, and Oscar warned her that

 

evil was everywhere, and told her not to bring evil into

 

her home. Jane quickly dropped the locket.

 

As it hit the ground, the locket turned into stone

 

right before Jane's eyes. She began to cry hysterically,

 

Sam could not keep her from sobbing. Peter felt really bad

 

for his mother, and anger began to grow in his heart. Oscar

 

pulled Peter aside and talked to him while Sam comforted

 

Jane.

 

"Peter! Listen, my boy. There are good people, and

 

there are bad people. What side do you want to be on?"

 

Oscar asked.

 

"Well, the good side of course," Peter replied.

 

Oscar smiled and walked away. In his heart he knew that Peter would always do the right thing, that's why he

 

was chosen. Jane's eyes glanced over all the rubble that

 

was left behind. Her childhood home was gone and so was her

 

family. Sam could no longer comfort his wife. Jane began to

 

cry and he quickly used his powers to levitate everyone

 

into the air.

 

"It's been a long day, and it's time we all went

 

home," said Sam.

 

No one said a word on the way home. They were flying

 

like birds of the skies, but their hearts were so lonely.

 

No one muttered a sound, they all just looked out to the

 

horizon where the beanstalks grew and the giants slid up

 

and down. The waterfalls were changing color in the night

 

air, from red to blue and then to green. This was like a

 

fireworks show to Peter. He enjoyed it very much. It was as

 

if nature was trying to comfort them.

 

Word had spread, and even up in the air, thousands of

 

feet above the clouds, animals were welcoming the boy king

 

known as Peter Carrot-Top. Flying dragons quickly came up

 

from behind and blew fire of glittering flames. The flames

 

danced to welcome the boy king. Then the dragons did an air

 

dance and flew away. Peter noticed the beauty of the

 

dragons. All had the magical symbols of Baja, and all were

 

wearing armor of protection. For the most part, these huge giants were very friendly. Peter watched as their orange

 

and yellow tails glowed in the dark as they waved good-bye.

 

Although the ride home was fun to watch, there was too much

 

under the surface going on. Everyone wanted to be home.

 

"A few more minutes and we'll be there," said Sam.

 

No one answered, not out of rudeness, just out of

 

sadness and depression. Sam felt bad for his family and

 

began mumbling to himself. Sam blamed himself for

 

everything, even the evilness of his brother Marcus. He

 

felt as if he’d let his brother down somehow.

 

Oscar glided his way closer to Sam and looked him in

 

the eyes. "This is not your fault. The prophecy must be

 

fulfilled. This was not your doing.”

 

"How do you know? You're just a dumb talking cat!"

 

shouted Sam out of anger.

 

Oscar said nothing more and just glided his way back

 

in line. Sam was going to apologize, but Oscar moved too

 

quickly out of his way. Finally they could see home in

 

sight. Everyone started to get a little anxious. They

 

couldn't wait until their feet hit the ground. As the dust

 

touched their shoes, off everyone went in their own

 

direction. Jane ran to the garden oasis. Peter ran up to

 

his room with his magical book in hand. Sam flew into the

 

house and into his office, slamming the door shut. Oscar was left outside, but he followed Jane to the

 

garden oasis and kept her company, like a good friend

 

should. She could not control her weeping, but Oscar was

 

there to comfort her in every way possible. Jane was

 

feeling anger and rage. He went to her side and cuddled

 

next to her. Jane slowly calmed down and began to stroke

 

his ears like old times. A smile suddenly crossed Jane's

 

face. She quickly gave Oscar a big hug, letting out all her

 

anger and frustration in tears.

 

Like a good pet; Oscar stayed by Jane's side, licking

 

her face with his big tongue. She just smiled and went on

 

into the house with him. The house was very quiet, but

 

someone seemed to be having a good day. Jane walked up the

 

stairs to jolly music playing. It was David and Dorothy

 

Carrot-Top. Dorothy was feeling much better and was up

 

singing and dancing with her husband. Jane ran over and

 

gave her a big hug.

 

"I can't believe it's you," said Jane.

 

David explained that Dorothy was feeling much better

 

and he was happy to see that everyone was home so they

 

could have a big family dinner. Jane explained that the

 

entire day was horrible, and everything that could go wrong

 

did.

 

David gave Jane a big hug, telling her everything would be all right and that in the end, it would all make

 

sense. Jane told him that he might want to go and comfort

 

his son because he was down in his sorrows. David nodded

 

and went downstairs to Sam's office while Jane and Dorothy

 

prepared dinner.

 

Before Jane went downstairs, she stopped off at

 

Peter's room. He was in deep thought, and didn't even hear

 

the knock on the door. Peter was slowly and carefully

 

studying his magical book.

 

"Give it a rest, honey! You had a hard day today,"

 

said Jane.

 

"Mom, what if I can't save Baja? Will we be exiled

 

again?" asked Peter.

 

"No, son, we are here to stay. A ghost can't enter the

 

real world more than once. If it happened, we would be

 

destroyed," said Jane.

 

Jane continued to reassure Peter that everything would

 

be all right and that even if Baja wasn't saved, she would

 

always love him. She also reminded him that his big day of

 

school started tomorrow. Peter gave his mom a big hug and a

 

smile.

 

"Wash up for dinner," she said as she left his room.

 

Peter felt much better, and began to study his book

 

even more as his mother left the room. As he opened the magical book to page fourteen, a big face appeared. It

 

scared Peter and he quickly closed the book, and ran into

 

his closet. He peeked out of one eye to see if anything was

 

coming after him, but there was nothing. Peter slowly

 

approached the book again. The face appeared, but it said

 

nothing. It was like a blue genie, with eight long arms

 

covered in gold and silver bands. On the bands were the

 

codes of Baja, just glowing in the dim light.

 

"Hi, who are you?" Peter asked.

 

"I am Merseft, the genie, here to grant all your

 

wishes and true desires," said the face.

 

Peter was so excited he could hardly contain his

 

emotions. A big grin came across his face and he was ready

 

to use his new powers.

 

"Be very careful, with power comes great

 

responsibility," said Merseft.

 

Peter closed his eyes tightly and repeated the words

 

in the magical book. "To the mirror, to the walls, to all

 

things great and small, grant my wish after all."

 

He kept his eyes closed tight and wished for his

 

mother to have a table of feasting. The aroma of baked

 

chicken, ham, turkey, apple pies, buttered corn and breaded

 

pork chops filled the house. Everyone came downstairs.

 

"Jane, what great cooking," said David. "Oh! Thanks, but I did not cook this meal," said Jane.

 

She and Dorothy were quite confused since they were

 

the only two women in the kitchen and they had not yet

 

prepared dinner.

 

In came Samantha and Red Fox.

 

"Oh! That food smells great, let's eat!" said Red Fox.

 

Jane explained to everyone that neither she nor

 

Dorothy had made dinner yet. As they walked into the dining

 

area, there was Peter with his mouth filled, chewing on a

 

piece of chicken leg. The table was set for feasting; it

 

was dressed and made for royalty.

 

"Oh! My, this is good, Mom," said Peter.

 

Jane wanted to know where the food came from. Peter

 

let his family know the magic book made his wish come true.

 

Jane was very skeptical and asked Peter to show her the

 

magical genie. He ran to get the book, but as he opened it,

 

there was nothing inside. Peter did everything he could to

 

make the genie come out, but the pages were silent. It left

 

Peter feeling as if he was a tattler.

 

He begged his family to believe him, but they

 

dismissed it as a young boy's fantasy. Nevertheless, they

 

ate, but Sam was missing. Jane asked David to go and talk

 

to his son. As everyone feasted on the finest dinner in

 

Baja, there was a lot more to talk about, but no one brought up anything that happened that day. This was a time

 

for laughter and happiness.

 

"Yes! Food brings the family together once again,"

 

said Dorothy.

 

As David went upstairs to his son's office, he glanced

 

over his shoulder and saw his family eating and being

 

merry. This brought joy to his heart. For so many years, he

 

missed out on a true family, one he thought that he might

 

never see again. With a big, wide smile on his face, he had

 

found peace.

 

But Sam was in no mood for eating. His views about

 

Baja had changed drastically. For the first time, Sam

 

wanted to be a ghost in the human world. He wanted to back

 

out and leave Baja to fend for itself.

 

"Why should I fight for a world that exiled my family

 

and I?" asked Sam as he talked to himself.

 

Suddenly came a gentle knock on the door.

 

"Son, may I come in?" asked David.

 

Sam mumbled under his breath and slowly opened the

 

door to let his father in. The look of disappointment was

 

all over Sam's face. Gently David consoled his son and gave

 

him a gentle touch on the back, letting him know that

 

everything would be okay. David began to tell Sam how they

 

never gave up hope that one day Sam and his family would return. He told Sam to hang in there and to never give up

 

hope. Sam had few words to say. His heart was filled with

 

anger, not only at the events of that day, but what also

 

took place in Baja.

 

To make matters worse, the brother he had loved and

 

trusted was now his enemy. David began to put his son's

 

heart to rest letting him know that no matter the outcome,

 

the two would always remain brothers, one for good and one

 

for evil. With a few moments of silence, Sam was ready to

 

join the family for dinner.

 

Out of the office and down the stairs they went. Sam

 

was not happy, but he knew he had to put on a happy face

 

for his family. Everyone was glad to see him joining them

 

for dinner. After a word of prayer and thanksgiving, the

 

entire family began to eat and share moments of happiness.

 

There was Dingo, pulling on Oscar's ears in a playful

 

manner. Peter and Samantha Grey were practicing judo moves.

 

Jane and Dorothy were catching up on old times, while the

 

boys talked about war strategies. The house was happy, the

 

mood was delightful. Through all they had been through that

 

day, everyone managed to come together and be a family,

 

which was more important than anything in the entire world.

 

As dinner was coming to an end, there was a knock at

 

the door. The family wasn't expecting anyone to come over that late at night; so, with caution, Sam and Red Fox went

 

to the door. Slowly Sam opened it. It was some royal

 

guardsmen in uniform. They told Sam that they were sent to

 

him by Mr. Stewart. The guard informed Sam that the

 

Ambassador Forest was under attack by Marcus and the seven

 

wizards.

 

"Are you sure?" asked David.

 

"Yes, sir," said the guards.

 

The Ambassador Forest was the place where all of

 

Baja's wealth, healing, and magical beings came from. Now

 

it was under attack. Sam went into his army mode and began

 

to immediately plot a way to save the forest.

 

"Tell Mr. Stewart that we will be in the Ambassador

 

Forest by mid-day tomorrow," said Sam to the royal guards.

 

As he closed the door slowly behind him, he realized

 

that this was his mission: to save Baja. But he was also

 

concerned for his son's well being. Immediately, Sam

 

informed the family of what was going on. Red Fox and

 

Samantha Grey were ready to fight. Jane was also on board,

 

but Sam did not want his wife to go. Jane insisted, as a

 

family, they would eat and fight together. Of course Peter

 

wanted to go, but the answer was a definite "No!" from both

 

parents.

 

Peter was told to stay home and help his grandmother, but he had other plans. The entire family was now in a

 

warrior's mood and mindset. Peter quickly ran up the stairs

 

and into his room to try to get the genie Merseft to come

 

out. Slowly he opened his magic book and the genie's face

 

appeared.

 

"Hellloooooo!" said the genie.

 

Peter was very upset that Merseft did not show his

 

face in front of his parents and family members. Merseft

 

explained to Peter that parents never understand.

 

Reluctantly, Peter agreed. He began to tell Merseft of the

 

plan to save the Ambassador Forest.

 

"Yes! Peter, I am very familiar with the forest, but

 

why is it under attack?" asked Merseft.

 

Peter explained to Merseft about the evil of his uncle

 

Marcus.

 

"Your wish is my command," said Merseft.

 

Peter let Merseft know that somehow, there would have

 

to be a look-alike of Peter to fool his parents while Peter

 

snuck off with them to war. Merseft explained to Peter that

 

he would forfeit and miss the first day of school, but

 

Peter wanted to be with his family fighting side-by-side

 

for good.

 

Meanwhile in the garden, Jane was practicing making

 

deadly vines, some with razor-sharp thorns and others with deadly odors. A look of intensity came over Jane's face as

 

she perfected every step. One by one, Jane made deadly

 

plants that were under her control.

 

In the other courtyard, Red Fox and Samantha Grey

 

practiced fighting and using special weapons that Sam's

 

father made for them. There were swords and body armor that

 

glowed in the darkness of the night. The armor was made

 

completely out of pure gold, one-of-a-kind, with magical,

 

built-in protection. To test if the armor worked, Red Fox

 

launched at Samantha with a sword, and suddenly, the armor

 

began to glow, and covered her from head to toe as if she

 

was transforming into a huge giant. Red Fox was amazed and

 

began to step away from Samantha because, by now, she had

 

grown to at least nine feet tall. The armor was impossible

 

to penetrate, as Red Fox tried to cut into it with his

 

sword. Every scratch made on the armor healed as if it was

 

skin on a human body.

 

There was no way to penetrate this secret weapon. When

 

the fighting was over, the armor returned to an ordinary

 

breast plate. Samantha was most surprised at the

 

advancement in technology. She rubbed the breast plate with

 

her fingers over and over again, looking at it back and

 

forth, not believing what she had just witnessed. To both

 

of their amazement, that was the greatest weapon they had ever used, and ran to tell David and Sam how much they

 

liked the armor.

 

Back in Sam's workshop; he was fitting Oscar the cat

 

with his own breast plate. Because Oscar was so huge, it

 

was taking Sam and David both to fit the plate onto Oscar.

 

He enjoyed every moment of the pampering. Suddenly, through

 

the door ran Samantha and Red Fox. They were filled with

 

excitement over the new armor David had made.

 

"Well, I am so happy you like it," said David.

 

Then they looked up and saw Oscar.

 

"What a beauty!" said Red Fox.

 

"Well, thank you very much!" said Oscar.

 

"Oh! Silly cat, he is talking about your armor," said

 

Samantha as Oscar began to blush.

 

"We have a lot of work to do," said Sam.

 

Sam was a little overwhelmed and on edge, but managed

 

to keep his emotions in place. Through the night, the team

 

of friends began to practice the skills that they had

 

hidden for many years. David was a great builder of many

 

things, and not only toys for holidays and gifts. He was

 

also the creator of the greatest fighting weapons. As a

 

child, Sam had noticed that his father could build and make

 

anything he set his mind to. Sam had the best and most

 

unique toys imagined by anyone. He was most popular in his school. Sam remembered the days working side by side with

 

his father to build anything they wanted. Now that time had

 

come again.

 

As the adults were practicing their skills, Peter was

 

upstairs in his room making magic. A gentle knock came upon

 

the door. It was Dorothy, Peter's grandmother.

 

"Hi, Nana," said Peter.

 

Dorothy gently smiled and rubbed Peter's head. She

 

began to tell Peter of the emotional stress for a little

 

boy to have to save his world, but Peter felt he was up to

 

the challenge. Never once did he complain about his burden.

 

Dorothy was very impressed by her grandson's attitude. As

 

she was leaving the room, Peter held her by the hands

 

letting her know that everything would be all right.

 

Suddenly, Peter's magic book began to glow a solar green.

 

"What's that?" asked Dorothy.

 

Peter told his grandmother of the genie. For the first

 

time, the genie came out in the presence of an adult. Peter

 

was so happy to prove to his family that he was not making

 

it up.

 

"Sonny, we knew you were telling the truth, but we

 

didn't know how powerful it was," said Dorothy, but was

 

just in joy to see that Merseft the genie had appeared.

 

"Well, hello, lovely lady," said Merseft to Dorothy. A soft reply from Dorothy came out. She was so amazed

 

at the size and shape of the genie that it was a little

 

frightening, but Dorothy knew that this mystical creature

 

was harmless.

 

"May I grant a wish for you, madam?" asked Merseft.

 

"No, no," said Dorothy.

 

She told Merseft that she would leave everything in

 

God's hand. She kissed Peter on the head and off she went.

 

"Oh, thanks, Merseft, for showing yourself," said

 

Peter as he ran to hug the genie. The genie was made out of

 

thin air and illusion, and Peter fell through him and

 

landed on the floor. "Ooh, Ouch!" said Peter.

 

Merseft began to laugh. As he laughed, clouds of smoke

 

filled the room. Then Peter began to join in the laughter.

 

It seemed like Merseft and Peter were made for each other.

 

Someone was getting a little jealous though, and it was

 

Dingo.

 

"Oh! Settle down, boy. You're still my best friend,"

 

said Peter as Dingo began to bark constantly at Merseft.

 

Dingo jumped on Peter's bed and kept one eye on

 

Merseft. Merseft was trying to do anything to make Dingo

 

happy. He made a huge bone appear. He made fluffy toys that

 

squeaked appear, but he could not get Dingo to take it.

 

Dingo stuck to his guns and cuddled up to Peter. Peter saw this as a friendly sibling rivalry.

 

A voice shouted, "Off to bed, Peter. You have your

 

first day of school tomorrow."

 

Peter quickly jumped into bed, after a very long day

 

of things going wrong. Jane came upstairs with a cup of hot

 

cocoa and a warm blanket. She covered Peter and Dingo, gave

 

them both a goodnight kiss and off she went. Peter was out

 

as fast as the lights, and so was Dingo, but there was much

 

to do in the Carrot-Top household. In David's office there

 

was much building and designing going on. He was working on

 

the most advanced technology, from laser bows and arrows to

 

manmade contraptions. David felt right at home, and he was

 

becoming his old self again.

 

Jane worked on some of the most potent plants and

 

trees she could think of. One of the plants was so potent;

 

it began killing the rest of the plants around it. Jane

 

called it the viper plant. With one spray of its mist, it

 

would wipe out acres of trees and vegetation. The viper was

 

huge and grew by the second. It dug its roots into the rich

 

soil of Baja and began to grow constantly. There were huge

 

vessels showing through the stems of the plants as it

 

absorbed nutrients from the earth. After feeding, the plant

 

would spray purple and green mist which killed all of the

 

surrounding plants. Jane had to tweak and fix this plant. It was one of

 

her most powerful works yet, but with the viper around, the

 

other plants and trees would not come out of the soil

 

because they were afraid. They kept their roots and leaves

 

buried in the ground, shivering from fear of the viper.

 

"Sorry, little guys and gals," said Jane.

 

When the plants saw that it was all right to come out,

 

they quickly did so. A smile came upon Jane's face to see

 

all of her creations come alive, something she loved doing

 

and missed while exiled from Baja.

 

On the other side of the courtyard, Sam, Red Fox and

 

Samantha Grey practiced their fighting skills. Sam

 

practiced moving two-ton rocks with his mind. One minute

 

the rocks flew in the air, and the next they were on the

 

ground as if they were thrown there by a giant. The rocks

 

made a loud crash onto the ground causing the ground to

 

rumble for miles away.

 

Red Fox, with his military skills, was the sharpest

 

arrow shooter and a skilled fighter. His one special skill

 

was turning into a gentle fox, so harmless and innocent,

 

and then when danger arose, he changed into a half-man

 

half-fox fighting machine. He had a great disguise to get

 

into the forest and talk with the forest animals. Because

 

of this ability, he could blend into the forest, going virtually unnoticed.

 

But Samantha was skilled in all the martial arts of

 

fighting. She had conquered armies and villages. There was

 

a hefty bounty placed on her head, but this never worried

 

her. Because of her skills, she had managed to escape

 

capture every time. The team practiced all night, until

 

Jane announced to everyone that it was time to get some

 

rest.

 

Because so many people had forsaken Sam and the entire

 

Carrot-Top family, he only had an army of five instead of

 

an army of thousands. Nevertheless, he was going to save

 

the forest from his brother and the seven wizards. Most

 

importantly, Sam wanted to not only restore the Carrot-Top

 

name, but to protect his son from having to face the evil

 

axis of Baja. Everyone went inside to take a rest, for

 

tomorrow would be a day of fighting and sorrow.

 

As Peter lay in his bed sleeping, he began to dream a

 

great and terrifying dream. He could see himself standing

 

over his own body in a dark and gloomy wilderness. He was

 

being chased by huge sand worms. They were huge and ugly,

 

diving in and out of the sands. The huge monsters sprayed

 

sand pebbles out of their noses, like dolphins spray water.

 

They were ugly, filthy creatures, with hair all over their

 

bodies that was shaggy and matted. They snapped at Peter with long claw-like teeth. He

 

could not believe how real this dream felt, so he began to

 

run as the creatures got closer and closer. But Peter was

 

no match for beasts this size. After Peter was through

 

running and tired out, he finally stopped and created one

 

of his large black holes.

 

It was a gift of tremendous power, but Peter still had

 

not perfected his abilities. With a little fear and a will

 

to escape, he created a hole so large that it swallowed up

 

the entire desert. As Peter looked down, all he could see

 

were the creatures and their home going down a spiral

 

twist. The amount of power frightened Peter.

 

He found himself standing on an abyss of thin air;

 

there was nothing in sight but darkness. Peter began to run

 

as fast as he could, but was getting nowhere. There was

 

darkness after darkness. No matter how fast or far he ran;

 

it was as if he wasn’t even moving. Peter began to panic,

 

crying out for his father, but no answer came. Then he felt

 

an evil presence. He looked from left to right, hoping to

 

see something, but nothing appeared. Then Peter curled up

 

like an infant in thin air and began to rock himself,

 

saying "It's not real, it's not real," over and over again.

 

Then a voice said, "Yes, it is."

 

Peter jumped up as if fire was under his butt and looked around. A blue light was coming out of the abyss, it

 

had an evil presence, and his hair began to blow.

 

Through the abyss came a man, slender in build, with

 

long black, flowing hair. In his hand he carried a walking

 

cane with a huge glass bulb on its top. The bulb changed

 

bright red as he came closer to Peter.

 

"Are you afraid, my child?" the voice asked as it came

 

out of the abyss.

 

Peter said nothing, just watched as the man came

 

forward. He walked in slow motion, as if he was gliding on

 

thin air. His body was adorned with the finest fabrics and

 

armor that was all black and shiny metal. As the man came

 

closer, half of his face was covered by a silver mask, as

 

if the mask was burned onto his skin.

 

One thing this stranger couldn't hide was a little bit

 

of orange hair that stood out on the side of his mask.

 

"Uncle Marcus!" Peter shouted.

 

"I am not your uncle, nor will I ever be," said the

 

man, but in his heart Peter knew about that it was his

 

uncle.

 

Because of this, Peter was not afraid anymore. The man

 

came closer to Peter and showed him the destruction of Baja

 

through the crystal ball that he took off of his walking

 

stick. A voice taunted Peter over and over again of how Baja would be destroyed and how he and his family would be

 

put to shame in a prison camp.

 

"You evil man! My father will never let you get away

 

with this!" shouted Peter.

 

The wicked man laughed hysterically. The laughter

 

continued like a roaring echo that became louder and louder

 

to Peter's tender ears. The next thing Peter knew, he woke

 

up screaming with his mother and father at his side.

 

"Oh, Mother, I had a bad dream," said Peter as his

 

mother rubbed his head.

 

"It's okay," said Jane.

 

"Everything will be all right," said Sam.

 

Peter began to mumble and tell his parents of the

 

awful dream he had of his uncle Marcus planning on

 

destroying Baja and all its beauty. Somehow, Sam knew his

 

brother was getting stronger from some type of mystical

 

powers. His heart grew angry. He quickly tucked Peter in,

 

kissed him goodnight and out the bedroom door he went. Jane

 

stayed behind to make sure Peter fell back to sleep, but

 

Sam went to see his father. David was resting in a chair.

 

It was obvious he had been up all night, planning and

 

drawing weapons and attacks.

 

Sam saw this and decided to let his father rest

 

peacefully, so he went into his mother's room and talked to her. Dorothy could tell that her son was very anger and

 

asked him what was the matter. Sam explained that he did

 

not understand why Marcus was the way he was or why he

 

would betray the Carrot-Top name in a disgraceful manner.

 

He wondered what went on in Marcus' life that he no longer

 

respected the place they called home for many years.

 

Dorothy looked with disappointment and disgrace at her

 

son. She had no explanation why Marcus was the way he was.

 

All she could do was speculate. She told Sam that ever

 

since she took Marcus to see the Oracle when he was a

 

little lad, his attitude and behavior changed. She told him

 

that Marcus might be the destroyer of Baja, but they had no

 

idea because they were never allowed into the room to hear

 

what the Oracle said to Marcus.

 

"Through it all, son, please remember that Marcus will

 

always be a part of us," said Dorothy.

 

But Sam was not feeling the love. Marcus had disgraced

 

their family name, and Sam was going to make him stand up

 

and pay for all of his evil doings. Chapter 8

 

First Day of School

 

Morning came bright and early. The sun in the sky

 

changed color from yellow to blue, then pink and green. To

 

the people of Baja, this was a great way to start the day.

 

But, in the Carrot-Top household, it was Peter's first day

 

of school after coming back home, but he had different

 

plans.

 

He wanted to go fight on the side of his father. Peter

 

quickly jumped out of bed and summoned the genie Merseft.

 

As he arose out of the magical book with his sleepy eyes,

 

Peter commanded him to make a double look-alike to fool his

 

parents. This would give Peter the ability to be in two

 

places at one time.

 

Merseft was a little hesitant, letting Peter know that

 

parents are smarter than they look, but Peter was confident

 

that it would work. With the power of a magical spell and a

 

room filled with glowing smoke, the genie conjured up a

 

look-alike.

 

"Wow! He looks just like me," said Peter.

 

"Well, isn't that what you wanted?" asked Merseft with

 

a sarcastic tone. Peter went over and touched and poked the look-alike.

 

He couldn't believe his eyes to see a real duplicate of

 

himself. Peter knew in is heart of hearts this plan would

 

work. He wanted so badly to fight on the side of his father

 

and grandfather, but his parents were not having any of it.

 

They wanted him protected because of the prophecy of the

 

elders. If Peter was indeed the eighth key, they must

 

protect him.

 

The look-alike Peter was dressed and ready for school,

 

courtesy of Merseft. Now it was time to put the look-alike

 

to work. Peter sent it on its way downstairs to breakfast

 

while he awaited his parents' departure. There was only one

 

small problem, the look-alike was too stiff moving and the

 

personality was off. As he (it) went downstairs, Jane and

 

Sam noticed right away something was wrong.

 

They began to ask the look-alike many silly questions

 

like, ”What is your favorite orange?”

 

The look-alike had no idea and said, "Well, orange of

 

course."

 

"Ha, ha, ha. You're wrong," said Sam.

 

"My son's favorite orange is strawberry, grown in the

 

finest parts of Baja," said Jane.

 

They knew Peter was up to something, so Sam went to

 

the neck of the look-alike and saw a little button. When he pressed it, the look-alike was cut off. Sam and Jane

 

laughed.

 

"It's a little early for him to be skipping school,

 

isn't it?" asked Sam.

 

"Yes, indeed, we must get to the bottom of this," said

 

Jane.