And here is my story for the awesome kids at Anna Smith. Thanks for having me!
The full moon cast an eerie glow as its light hit the gray headstones in the cemetery. Hammock oak trees spread their long branches over the graves. Moonlight filtered through leaves dancing in the night breeze, dotting the ground with speckled light.
Two teenagers with full, heavy backpacks stepped carefully around the headstones. They aimed flashlights at the ground in front of them as they walked.
“The report said the monster would be by the biggest tree,” the boy said, “but they all look pretty big to me.” He was a good-looking guy, with thick black hair falling over one eye and dark eyes that glittered in the blue light of the moon.
The girl sighed as she brushed her long red ponytail back over her shoulder. A grimace of annoyance crossed her freckled face. “Think a little harder, Bright,” she replied. “It said we would find the monster near the biggest tree, on the hill, in the center of the grave yard.” She stopped and pointed her flashlight to where a slight hill rose in the middle of the cemetery. A single, tall monument rose next to a tree in the center of the hill. Spanish moss and leafless black vines dangled off the branches and spilled to the ground near the grave.
“Hey, look, Jackie!” Bright said with excitement. “I found it!”
She rolled her eyes. “Sure you did. This is why I will graduate from monster hunter training before you. You can’t do anything without my help.”
Bright turned to her, ready to argue, when a wail of rage echoed from behind the tree. They switched off their flashlights and ducked behind the nearest headstone. Each yanked off their backpacks and pulled out special black gloves that only monster hunters wear.
“I know you’re hiding,” the angry voice taunted. Snapping twigs told them whatever roared at them was stomping nearer. “I told the last kids who came here to leave me alone! I don’t need you here!”
Jackie clicked on a fuel pack with a tube that led from the pack to her gloves. She pulled them a little tighter. “You ready to give these new gloves a try?” she whispered, glancing at Bright.
He nodded as he adjusted his pack and gloves. “Let’s just hope we don’t have to use them.”
Jackie rolled her eyes. “Have you met a reasonable monster yet?”
“He only chased those kids who filed the report with a mop,” Bright pointed out. “Maybe he’s not such a bad guy.” When she rolled her eyes at him again, he grinned. “One more mission and we can both graduate from training and be certified monster hunters! Let’s do this!”
Together they jumped up from behind the headstone and aimed their hands toward the creature clomping toward them. It was the bogeyman. They recognized him from pictures in their training manual. They burst out laughing when that fearsome face with red eyes and sharpened teeth stomped toward them in his bathrobe, shaking a dirty mop at them.
The bogeyman stopped in his tracks. “What are you kids laughing at?” he demanded.
“Mr. Bogeyman, sir, we’ve received an official complaint that you are chasing people from the cemetery,” Jackie began, trying to stop snickering and keep a straight face. “The Monster Bylaws clearly state that you are not allowed—”
“Forget the bylaws!” he bellowed. “I want to be left alone!”
Bright snorted. “And you’re gonna make us leave with your scary mop?”
The bogeyman stopped and stared. His eyes glowed. His expression terrified them. They took a step back. His bathrobe shifted, with a snap of his fingers, into a black robe with a hood covering his head, so all they could see were his angry red eyes. He grabbed a strand of the mop’s head and yanked. A loud buzz ripped through the air as the mop changed into a chainsaw. He strode toward them and growled, swiping at the air between them.
Jackie jumped back. “He tried to cut us in half, Bright!”
“Not gonna happen!” Bright said, lowering his head and raising his eyes to glare at the bogeyman.
“Bright,” the bogeyman laughed. “How did you get such a ridiculous name?”
He glanced over at Jackie, who stood behind with a determined look on her face. “Should we show him why they call me Bright?”
Jackie nodded. They both thrust out their hands toward the bogeyman. Flames shot from their palms, fueled by the packs on their backs. Bright’s flames shot out orange and blue, like a blow torch, while Jackie’s pulsed in different shades of red and purple. Jackie volleyed balls of fire to the hem of his long robes. The bogeyman had to jump as he stomped out the flames. He dropped his whirring chainsaw. Before it even hit the ground, Bright shot a beam of flames to the chainsaw, and it exploded in sparks and a puff of blue smoke.
“Hey, stop it!” the bogeyman howled. “I’m just trying to keep kids away from my grave. Nobody was ever nice to me when I was alive and I don’t want them near me while I’m dead!”
Jackie tilted her head thoughtfully. “Sorry, Mr. Bogeyman, but the bylaws clearly state that if you attack a person, we have to banish you to the depths of the sea.”
“No!” he cried. He reached into his robes to fire grenades at them, but each of Jackie’s fireballs met them mid-air, and they exploded in his face. Bright used his stream of blue flames to draw a cage around the monster cowering on the ground. He reached back to his pack and flipped a switched. Frost shot out of his palms and the cage around him turned into dry ice. Jackie sent one flaming purple orb to the cage’s door, and when it met the dry ice it turned into a lock.
“Good job,” Bright said as he reached back to flip another switch on his pack. “Do you think we’ll graduate now?”
Jackie smiled at him as she slipped a switch on hers, too. “I think you might even graduate, but I’ll still be first in our class.”
“Should we call for the helicopter?” he asked. He walked to the cage and rattled it. The bogeyman shrieked inside, begging to be let out.
“Let’s use our packs instead.”
Jackie and Bright each grabbed a corner of the cage and pushed a button on their gloves. Their packs ignited, converting into jet packs. They rose over the graveyard, carefully holding the cage between them as they soared over the graveyard in the blue light of the full moon to drop the bogeyman into the ocean.