1. Chapter 1


            That is the first word I will use to describe this disgusting place. Hot.

Not only hot, but muggy, muddy, swampy, and to describe it overall: gross.

5 minutes since I got here in that miserable excuse for a bus. No seats, smelly steaming brown poles we clung to as we hurdled along the road, as if it was our life. And, in a way, it was.

Have you ever experienced the teachers amazing work to slow all time at school, so that minutes became hours and months and years? And everyone is only half-heartedly listening to the teacher but instead waiting for those hours and months and years to end? And then when they do, everyone streams out of the room like a dam being let loose? Picture that situation, only in a swampy desert where no one knows when those dreaded hours and months and years will come to an end.

Where we are, why we are here, is a mystery. I can only think about a; what did I do to land myself at this place b; What is the fastest way out of here, and c; Get away, flies!

A smooth, slippery voice reaches my ears, smooth as silk and dripping with maple syrup: “Children, I suspect you all understand why you are here.”

Our math teacher, Mr. Underworth. If he wasn’t such a creepy teacher, many, many children would call him behind his back Mr. Underwear. But he isn’t a teacher to cross. I wonder for the first time if I had even done anything.

            Nope, no idea. I just want to make something clear right now: I have no idea what is going on or what he is talking about. And I will bet a million dollars no one else does either.

            Then a boy says exactly what we are all are thinking: “Nope, we don’t. Want to tell us now?”

He must be very brave. Or maybe just very cocky. I don’t know the kid. But he’s a boy. No one knows what goes on in boy’s minds. Well, I guess boys know. And maybe some… well, whatever.

“Maybe, maybe,” he says. “But maybe it’s better to keep you all baffled. Hold you longer…” He’s almost talking to himself now, muttering under his breath. “But no, maybe taunt them with the thought.”

            He composes himself, than oozes out the words, “Okay. See that swamp over there?”

            Heads turn. So does mine. When I see where he was pointing, I feel like throwing up.

            The swamp is like a huge puddle of liquid #2 (we don’t need more description, right?) in the mud, only with plants surrounding. And I wouldn’t even go as far to say that. It is surrounded with weeds. Very tall weeds. An opening allows me to see the brown bubbling water. I wish it didn’t.

            Then I think again. I look closer. Bubbling? The water is bubbling?

Swamp water doesn’t bubble. Well, if anything was underwater, it may. But by the looks of the water, any animal that went under the surface would die.

            I don’t like that water. I don’t want anything to do with it. Unless it meant throwing Mr. Underworth under it. But I shouldn’t get my hopes up.

            When Mr. Underworth sees that we are all disgusted, he says, “We get to swim.”

            Someone screams at the top of their lungs. I think it was me. But I was not the only one. Many people scream with me, a chorus of screams and yells. Some faint. I do both.

            When a (very kind) girl wakes me up, I just catch the last words of Mr. Underworth, “…fun, doesn’t it?”

            That man has lost it. And I’m about to too. But suddenly, a squawk pierces the air. All sounds of anguish stop as everyone looks for the source of the screech. It does not take them long.

            A huge eagle soars above us. I don’t mean huge as in the size of a window. I mean huge as in the size of a horse. He circles, hungrily, it seems. I figure if we don’t die of the #2, we will be eaten instead.

            But the eagle lands at the side of us. He eyes Mr. Underworth.

“You will not be taking them today.”  He says. Is he talking? Is he? No, he can’t be. But he is. He is.

The eagle says, “Climb on my back.”

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