We last left the gang stuck inside an exploding cafeteria after having locked Mrs. Barr, the lunch lady, inside the cold storage room where she merged with a vortex of dark energy and all the contents of the cold storage fridge, transforming herself into a giant oozing food monster. Did the gang escape? Let’s find out!
At this point, you’re probably wondering if Ada and her friends made it out of the cafeteria in time before the massive kitchen explosion. Rest assured, they did make it out. How did they do it? No, it was not by magic. They ran really, really fast, ducking and holding their arms over their heads to protect themselves from flying debris.
If you’ve ever had to run from an explosion, you would know exactly how fast they ran. If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky and trust that you can run really, really fast if you need to.
The gang and their recently rescued classmates had run as fast as their young legs could carry them. Once they had reached a safe distance outside the cafeteria, everyone else who had narrowly escaped Mrs. Barr’s trap scattered across the field while Ada and the others stopped running so they could regroup.
Ada looked around at all her friends and noticed, with a sinking heart and sudden lurch in the pit of her stomach, two of them were missing. Where were Mark and The Eagle? A little panicked, Ada started calculating how they could rescue them from the kitchen inferno, but just as she was about to take action, another explosion rocked the building, and sent a shockwave that Ada felt move through her whole body.
“Look!” Leela said as she pointed to the sky. Ada looked, and there she saw what appeared to be an airborne stainless steel kitchen table trailing smoke behind it as it blasted out of the cafeteria. In paralyzed awe, Ada and the rest of the gang turned their heads as one and watched the stainless steel kitchen-table-turned-rocket soar right over their heads forming a perfect arc across the sky. As it sailed through the air, they could hear a very familiar yell coming from the table-rocket itself. It was Mark and The Eagle! Leela, as usual, had been the first to spot them.
As Mark and The Eagle hung on to the airborne table-rocket for dear life, the gang could hear Mark yelling a single syllable for their entire flight. And while Ada did not catch the sound that came before or after that syllable, they all knew Mark well enough to know it was definitely the middle of a very bad word.
“Oh, man, he is so busted if any teachers heard that,” Paul said grinning. It is a fact of nature that young boys love it when their friends get themselves in trouble.
“Let’s hope he lives long enough for that, Paul. We have to help them,” Lyle said flatly.
“Yeah..Normally I’d agree, but…” said Leela, gesturing to where the Mark, The Eagle and table had landed. Leela shot Lyle a look that told him that she wasn’t too excited about having to help. None of them looked too enthusiastic about the possibility of having to help their friends. None of them moved. They stood rooted to their spots.
“What do we do?” murmured Leela. They all turned to look at Ada. Ada returned their gazes, then locked her eyes on the yard where The Eagle, Mark, and the table had landed. She shook her head and with a small sigh that wordlessly said, “Just give me a minute.” Of all the places those two fools could have landed, she thought.
Mark, The Eagle and table had not landed on the playground blacktop. They had not landed in the field. They had not even landed on one of the classrooms across from the cafeteria. Mark and The Eagle weren’t that lucky.
The table had landed them in an apple tree, in a yard to the far right side of school, which was just about the worst place they could have landed. That piece of real estate was the stuff of legends. No one knew who owned the property. No one had ever seen anyone coming or going from the house itself. But, the yard was always occupied by two very large, very pointy snarling dogs who immediately made meals out of any ball, frisbee, shoe, or anything else that happened to come their way. Mark and The Eagle were once again behind enemy lines. They were on the wrong side of the fence in a yard where all children feared to tread: The Yard of NO RETURN, which was always thought of in all capital letters.
Paul interrupted Ada’s thoughts by saying, “You guys, I don’t know about this. I mean,” He paused as he looked at Mark, The Eagle, and the table wedged in the apple tree. Paul shuffled back and forth on his feet and looked down at the ground. He was pale and sweaty having just run away from the explosion. They could hear the dogs running over to the tree and start to bark wildly at Mark and The Eagle. Paul continued, stammering, “It’s just that I don’t want to end up like…Jake.”
Ada sighed in frustration, “Paul, you’re NOT gonna end up like Jake Zimmerman. None of us are…”
A quick note about Jake Zimmerman, well, actually a quick note about the Legend of Jake Zimmerman:
The Legend of Jake Zimmerman
Once Upon A Time, many years ago, much longer than anyone can remember, back in the dark days of the early 21st century, there was a boy named Jake Zimmerman who was the new kid at Storybrooke Elementary. Young Jake Zimmerman, on his first day at school, tried to win friends by foolishly volunteering to retrieve a stray kickball from The Yard of NO RETURN on the right side of the field. Bravely he strode up to the yard, and boldly he jumped the old, rickety wood fence…and was never seen again.
It was assumed that Jake Zimmerman had met a grisly end in that yard on the right side of the field, but no one really witnessed what happened. As a matter of fact, it seemed that no one really knew much about Jake Zimmerman at all since he was the new kid. No one could remember in what grade he was, or to which class he belonged. No one was even sure what he had looked like. As his legend grew, you would hear Jake Zimmerman described a million different ways. He was a tall kid, a short kid, a kid with black hair and gray eyes, or a redhead with freckles. It had even been called into question whether the new kid’s name had even been Jake. Or whether his last name had been Zimmerman. But, the fact that he had disappeared after venturing into The Yard of NO RETURN, mostly likely eaten by the large pointy dogs, was indisputable.
Ada with newfound resolve, convinced herself that she and her friends were NOT going to end up as dog food. While she stood with her friends, thinking about what to do, three fire trucks pulled up to the school, sirens blaring. Firefighters in yellow turnout gear jumped out of the trucks, grabbing hoses and axes. Students and teachers were filing out of the building and onto the field, awaiting further instruction from the principal. The sounds of the sirens, and fire alarm, and the chattering of the kids soon drowned out the noise of the snapping and snarling dogs on the other side of the fence, who had begun to jump at the lower branches of the apple tree, attempting to reach Mark and The Eagle.
Paul looked to the fire engines. “Let’s just get the firefighters to help us out, they have ladders,” Paul said hopefully. It wasn’t a bad idea, but Ada knew better. She was as familiar with the Storybrooke Fire Department as anyone could be, and she knew that while they were very good at being firefighters, it was an all-volunteer department who were all going for the glory of putting out a fire that wasn’t, for once, caused by her dad and his invention mishaps. She also knew that the cafeteria blaze was big enough that it would take all three trucks to keep the blaze from spreading to the rest of the school. Two perfectly healthy kids who were stuck in a tree were not going to be a priority. Ada could tell by the sound and volume of Mark’s voice that he at least, was perfectly healthy, as he was able to scream and yell an impressively creative batch of bad words strung together as one.
Resigned to the fact that it was up to them to help their friends out of the tree, Ada said, “No Paul, it’s up to us.” And she ran over to the back fence, reluctantly followed by Paul, Lyle and Leela.
Ada struggled to get her eyes over the top of the dry, splintery fence, being six inches shorter than any of her friends. She finally scrambled up just enough to see into the yard where the two dogs were continuing to circle around the tree like hungry sharks, barking madly at Mark and The Eagle.
They were indeed very pointy dogs.
“Huh,” Ada paused after catching her first close-up glimpse of the rather vicious-looking canines. This rescue mission was not going to be easy. Stay cool and keep calm, Ada thought to herself. Then, she looked up to check on Mark and The Eagle. Leela crept over next to Ada and looked over the fence at the dogs. Ada heard Leela take in a sharp but quiet breath. Then Leela appeared to collect herself slightly and called out, “Are you okay?” to Mark and The Eagle.
“No!” Mark shouted back,”I just got exploded out of the friggin’ cafeteria!”
“Yeah, but are you okay?” Asked Lyle.
“No!” Mark shouted again, “Do you not see the giant friggin’ dogs about to eat me?”
“Yeah, but you guys are okay, right?” Asked Ada.
A few seconds passed.
“Yeah, we’re good,” The Eagle and Mark answered together.
Then, suddenly, Paul, who was staring transfixed by the dogs, perked up. “I got this you guys, I’ll be right back,” and off he went, of all places, back in the direction of Mrs Ratchman’s classroom.
The rest of the gang looked at each other doubtfully.
“Aw man,” said Mark with a disapproving click of the tongue, “It’s not snack time, fool!”
The Eagle shook his head, “Good initiative, bad judgement…” but then called out to Paul, “Hustle Greenwald! Going AWOL is not an option!”
Will Paul get distracted by snacks and go AWOL? Will Mark and The Eagle become more casualties of The Yard of NO RETURN? Find out next month in Chapter 11 of Surviving Storybrooke!
Kelly Raine is an artist, writer, and educator. He teaches children and likes the idea that he is pitching in to make the world slightly better. He wears a lot of black and wakes up very, very early.
© Kelly Raine, 2018 All Rights Reserved.