Copyright © 2017 Julio Santos García & Patricia Pérez Redondo © Text: Julio Santos García, 2017 © Illustrations: Patricia Pérez Redondo, 2017 Translations: Olga Núñez Miret Edited by: Effrosyni Moschoudi Formatting and design: Julio Santos & Patricia Pérez Title: The Green Stone Series: The adventures of Txano and Oscar. Number: 1 www.txanoyoscar.com firstname.lastname@example.org Xarpa Books Work registered on SafeCreative
The book «The Adventures of Txano and Oscar – The Green Stone» has been created by Patricia Pérez and Julio Santos and it possesses an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International Creative Commons License. You can view the license deed here: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0
The Green Stone Illustrations Text Patricia PÃ©rez Julio Santos
Hello! My name is Txano and the boy below is my brother Oscar. We are twins, although Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m older because I was born five minutes earlier and, as you will see, that makes a big difference.
Oscar The youngest one in the family is our sister Sarah-Li. She found Maxi inside a cardboard box on the street and convinced Mum to let her bring her home.
And here is the rest of our family: the one with the red hair and the funny beard is our father. His name is Alexander but everybody calls him Alex. He owns an antique shop in town.
Alex Barbara Our mother is called Barbara and she is a translator. When we drive her madâ&#x20AC;Ś Gee! Sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worse than a hurricane!
Millions of miles from the nearest planet, a strange shining rock soared through space, leaving in its wake a trail of green dust. Traveling at full speed, it had left Mars behind a while back and, right then, it was traversing the void, en route towards its final destination: a beautiful blue planet called Earth. Sounds familiar, doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t it?
Luckily, it was a small asteroid, and it did not represent a global threat, but it had an unbelievable secret hidden inside it. In a few days, that strange stone would come into contact with Txano and Oscar, and their lives would never be the same again. As youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll realize soon enough, though, whilst the stone carried on moving, they had other things to worry aboutâ&#x20AC;Ś
Hello, my name is Txano!
It was almost midday. I was right next to the kitchen door, and I’d just shot our mother with a bottle of ketchup. The worst thing was that my brother had just done the same with a bottle of mayo. But what was really, really bad, was that both of us had hit our target. It wasn’t intentional, but we’d hit a bullseye. Yes, I know you’re going to tell me that it is not that serious and that a squirt of ketchup or mayonnaise is not lethal. And you’re right! Lethal it wasn’t, but it could result in a level-seven punishment at the very least. I know all this might sound a bit odd, but I can assure you that we are not mad and we had not mistaken her for a portion of chips. It was all the rain’s fault.
But let me tell you the story from the very beginning. Let’s see… Let’s start again. Hello, my name is Txano. Well, the truth is that my name is George but, other than my granny Ethel, nobody has called me that for a veeeery long time. Not even my parents. One day, when I was two years old, I put on a red and green woolly cap I called “txano”, and I liked it so much that there it stayed. I never took it off, even to go to bed, and the whole family started calling me that.
When I turned six, I took the cap off, but I didn’t manage to get rid of the name. But I don’t mind. I prefer it to George. You already know my brother. Yes, that one, the one with the mayo. He’s my twin, and his name is Oscar. Although we are twins, I was born five minutes before him, and therefore I’m the eldest. And although we look pretty much alike physically, our parents say that we are night and day. And it’s true that our characters are not at all similar, because, to put it mildly, Oscar is mad as a hatter and does things without thinking about the consequences. On the other hand, he is an absolute geek. When it comes to technology and, when he starts on one of his inventions, he can spend days working nonstop, concentrating fully, and creating incredible stuff. I, however, am neither as impulsive nor as geeky. I mean that I think about things a little more before doing them, and I don’t have that spark of genius my brother has sometimes. But, on the other hand, I love to tell stories. Although our personalities are quite different, it is true that we share a lot of hobbies. Especially, we’re passionate about Lego, videogames, and superhero
movies. Ah! And we both love our mother’s pizza and spaghetti Bolognese. Let’s get on with the story and don’t worry about the rest of the people, which I’ll introduce as we go along. We had finished school almost a week ago, and we had been enjoying, or rather, suffering our rainy and boring holidays since. It would have been good to have had a first taste of our freedom with sun and warm weather or, at least, without rain, but it wasn’t to be, and the bad weather stayed with us the whole week. Playing all the time with the tablet or with our Lego sets was OK for a couple of days, but when you had done nothing else for a whole week, I can assure you it wasn’t that funny any longer. Oscar and I had plenty of alternative plans, but all of them required a blue sky and a dry terrain, and the entertainment choices were starting to get thin on the ground. Our mother’s name is Barbara, and she works at home translating books, therefore, that week she was the first in line to have to suffer the consequences of our holiday boredom. After spending the whole morning looking for things to keep ourselves occupied, we had exhausted our repertoire and, bored, we were chasing each
other around the house, fighting over any silly little thing. During one of those fights, Oscar thought we could have a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Burger Combatâ&#x20AC;?. Yes, I know that with the name suggested I should have said no, without even asking him for any details, but I must admit that my curiosity won the day, and I wanted to know what crazy new thing he had thought about. With a dangerous shine in his eyes that I was familiar with from previous disasters, he strode to the
kitchen, determined, and without a word, opened the fridge. He produced a bottle of ketchup and one of mayonnaise and held them at arm’s length in front of me. He then looked at me, with a serious expression, and handing me the first bottle told me: “This is your weapon, soldier. Good luck, and may the best win!” And, saying that, he ran to the other side of the kitchen, opened the bottle, and pointed it at me, evidently intent on squirting all over me a generous amount of that concoction. However you look at it, it was one of the dreadful ideas Oscar usually had, and I should have taken the chance to run away from there as fast as my legs allowed. But after such an extremely boring morning, my brother’s crazy idea felt rather funny and, without thinking too much about it, I opened the bottle ready to defend myself. Whoosh! The squirt of mayo flew right next to me and ended up splashed on the wall. Whoosh! I fought back with the ketchup that missed him by a hair’s breadth and ended up on the floor. After a few attacks and counter-attacks, the kitchen and we both looked the worse for wear.
But perhaps it would all have ended up OK if our mother had not decided to come in just then. Whoosh! Whoosh! A second later, one red and one yellow splodge were sliding in slow-motion down her cheeks. Oscar and I were paralyzed, looking at her with our mouths open like idiots, while we slowly lowered our weapons; I meanâ&#x20AC;Ś the bottles, and placed them on the table. Usually, our mother was quite calm, but when she went really madâ&#x20AC;ŚGee! She was like one of those hurricanes they show on TV. And I was convinced that the splodges on her face, plus those on ours and the kitchen, were more than enough to make her epically angry. For a few seconds, she remained there, quiet, with her eyes closed, probably devising what sophisticated torture she would
subject us to. If we didn’t come up with something quickly, our day would come to an end. Then, Oscar looked as if he had had an idea and waved at me to do the same he did. We approached our mother, slowly, frightened that she might open her eyes at any moment and give us one of her super-screams and an epic telling-off, degree five, but she did not move. Perhaps the mixture of ketchup and mayo had paralyzing properties, and we’d never heard about it. Moving slowly, we placed two stools, one on each side and climbed on them to get close to her face. On seeing that, I thought Oscar’s idea was to soften her up with kisses, but suddenly he started licking the sploshes of mayonnaise. My brain on auto-pilot, I did the same with the ketchup.
Oh, oh, oh! But what were we doing? My brother was the king of doing mad things and, to top it off, I was following his lead. This would not end well. In the midst of all the licking, our mother opened her eyes, snorted like a bull rearing to charge and shouted so loudly that they must have heard her even in the outer skirts of the galaxy. The shock wave blew us off the stools and from the floor we looked at her face, now sticky with a jumble of red and yellow slime. Tipped off by the scream, our little sister, Sarah-Li, and Maxi, her little dog, peered through the kitchen door, and smelling the danger, looked on from there, without getting in. Sarah-Li had come originally from China and was three years younger than us. One day, precisely on our fifth birthday, Dad and Mom told us that we were very lucky because we had parents, but many children in the world were not so lucky. They told us that it would be very nice to be able to share our family with one of them, and they asked us if we wanted to have a little sister. I think that, although we didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fully understand what they were talking about, the idea sounded fab-
ulous. And that was how almost a year later our parents went to China and came back with Sarah-Li. From a very young age, she was clever as a fox, and our parents always said that she was more responsible than the two of us put together. One afternoon, as she was walking down the street with Mom, she found a puppy abandoned in a box that turned out to be a little girl. Sarah-Li convinced our mother to bring her home “only for a few days”. She named her Maxi, and the dog has been with us ever since. Every so often, Sarah-Lee spoiled our fun with her sense of responsibility, but she was a darling and we all loved her. And now, she and Maxi were at the door witnessing the scene while our mother pierced us with her laser gaze. But then, the phone rang. It rang once. Twice. Three times… Our mother listened to it deadpan, without moving her eyes from us. Finally, on the fourth ring, she took a deep breath and, pointing a finger at us whilst she mopped her face a little with her other hand, left the kitchen to answer. It was Uncle Albert, Mom’s brother.
Wow! That was lucky. Talking to him always put her in a good mood. We might be saved yet. Just in case, I got started before Oscar had another one of his bright ideas, and I organized the cleaning of the disaster myself. Even Sarah-Li gave us a hand because when Mom got really mad at us, one never knew how things might end up and, sometimes, she suffered the crossfire. By the time our mother had hung up, the kitchen was almost clean. Without saying anything, she stood by the door, her expression showing that we had exhausted the world reserves of patience, but when she saw us with dishcloths in hands, cleaning up, her face relaxed, and she stayed like that for a moment. “You’ve got away with it by the skin of your teeth,” she said, looking serious. “You’ve been very lucky that your uncle phoned, but above all, you get away with it for having decided to clean the kitchen. If you do something like this again, I’ll have you
sweep the whole house using a toothbrush. Do I make myself clear?” she said, piercing us with her gaze. Whew! I don’t know where my mother got such ideas from, but it would be better to be careful and leave the mayo and the ketchup for the hamburgers. “Thaaanks, Mommy!” Oscar said, approaching her, a cunning glint in his eyes. “Don’t try to flatter me now; I’m sure it was your idea!” Mom said, moving away from him. “Listen!” She carried on talking, looking also at Sarah-Li and Maxi. “Before I ended up covered in sauce like a portion of chips, I was coming to suggest a weekend plan. It looks like the weather is going to be good, so I thought we could all go out and try the new tent that has been parked all this time in the cellar. Shall we go to Bears’ Lake?” “Yeeees!” We shouted in unison, not imagining that would be the beginning of our adventures.
With such a name, I’m sure you are imagining a place full of bears hiding behind bushes waiting to steal our food, aren’t you? You are wrong! Our father told us that there had not been any large animals left there for a very long time, except for human beings, of course. The lake was a super cool place, surrounded by woods and small rocky hills. After driving slowly for a while down a narrow road lined up with trees, we reached a clearing next to the shore of the lake and Dad announced: “Family, we’ve arrived!” He got off the car, stretched and, added: “Ahhh…! It has been over ten years since I last came here, but I can see it has not changed at all. Come on, everybody out, we must set up camp. We’ll have a great time!”
Rubbing his hands, he opened the trunk and started taking out things and more things, as if we were going to stay there for a month. And that’s considering Mom had not allowed him to pack even half of what he wanted to take. Before I forget about it, I’ll take this opportunity to introduce you to our father: his name is Alexander, although everybody calls him Alex. My mother is the only one who calls him Alexander when he drives her mad. Well, in fact, when she gets angry, she calls him by his full name, surname and all. “Alexander Middler!” she says, a certain edge in her voice as if she were a Maths teacher. And when she’s truly, truly mad, and wants to truly annoy him, she calls him Alexander “Middling”. Do you get it? I think that wordplay makes him very angry because he hasn’t come out with anything similar to call Mom; and that’s considering that for Barbara, you can say a lot of “barbarities”, don’t you think?
He has an antique shop in the city and is very partial to oriental art, although as you will discover in this story, there are other interesting aspects of his personality that not even we knew about. But let’s go back to Bears’ Lake. From the mountain of stuff that Dad had retrieved from the car, protruded a huge sack that must have been the tent he had bought the previous summer. Once he opened it, he totally ignored the instructions booklet. Instead, he produced rods, ropes, and the rest of the materials and spread them on the floor. On seeing that, Oscar and I looked at each other and immediately knew how it would all end up, so we remained nearby observing the operation from a safe distance. “Wouldn’t it be better to follow the instructions?” our mother would ask him every so often. “Instructions are for newbies. Just let me do it my way and you’ll see. I’ll have it ready in no time.” Two hours and seven or eight arguments later, the tent remained unpitched, and Dad was desperately looking for missing rods. Or that was what he said. “This tent is defective,” he said, sitting, soaking in sweat on one of the camping chairs. “Some parts are missing and that’s why it’s impossible to put up.”
“Perhaps it’s your brain that’s defective,” our mother replied in a calm tone. “Look, lunchtime is quickly approaching. Don’t you think it would be a good time to start reading the manual?” she told him in the tone she used to annoy him. I must admit that, in general, our father is good at assembling things; that’s why, for him, consulting the instructions manual is like committing sacrilege. When things go wrong, Mom truly enjoys it, smiling from ear to ear. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but let’s just say that, half an hour later, our mother had read the instructions and followed them, the tent was up and, oh surprise!, no part was missing, although Dad insisted that she had been hiding them. By lunchtime, our small camp was ready. Mmm! I’m sure you agree with me that the food outdoors always tastes better, right? Mom had had the great idea to bring the spaghetti meal we love, so Oscar and I had seconds. Well, especially Oscar, who does not know when to stop when he likes something. Our parents hung some hammocks from the trees and decided that after a morning of hard work setting up camp, a nap was the best thing to help their digestion.
Sarah-Li had brought with her the latest book of her favorite collection, and she also opted to read for a while on the hammock. Our sister could do whatever she chose to, but we were not prepared to just lay there, with so many places to explore around us.
We asked our parents for permission, assuring them that we would not go too far, and they allowed us to go, on condition that we took Maxi with us. We filled our backpacks with water and something to eat, and we set off towards a small hill not too far away from our camp that seemed to have excellent views over the lake. Although we both love to climb and jump over rocks, on that occasion we had to find an easy path because we had Maxi with us, and she cannot climb. But even if the path was easy, we got side-tracked jumping from here to there over piles of stones, and we reached the top totally exhausted. But, yes, the views were fabulous. We sat down to have a drink and rest for a bit when Maxi started barking like mad looking at the clouds. We tried to calm her down, but it was impossible. Then, she barked louder still and, right that minute, three small fireballs flew across the sky in the distance, disappearing quickly like shooting stars. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Wow, man! Have you seen that?â&#x20AC;? I asked, standing up, not taking my eyes off the sky. Oscar stood up as well and nodded, his mouth open wide.
We’d never seen shooting stars in daylight before and, while we were still astounded, looking at the spot in the sky where the last one had faded away into nothing, Maxi started barking again. Suddenly, on our right appeared another fireball, bigger than the previous ones, and it scared us to death. “Yow!” Oscar said, flinching. This time the ball did not disappear. It flew across the sky crashing on the other side of the lake, leaving in its wake a long smoky trail, which soon began to fade. Apart from a tiny spark of light and a faraway crack of broken branches, there were no other noises.
If our parents were still asleep, it was very likely that they hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t noticed anything. A thin column of smoke rising over the trees marked the point of impact, but in a few minutes, it had disappeared as if it had never been there. Maxi brought us back to reality with a nervous bark and Oscar turned towards me, amazed.
“Was that a meteorite?” he asked. “Did a meteorite just crash right in front of our noses? Whoa, it’s awesome!” he added, unable to stand still. “Have you seen it crash? Have you seen the smoke fade out? Have you seen…?” he carried on like a machine gun. “OK, OK…! I’ve seen the same you’ve seen,” I said, trying to calm him down. “We must go back and tell Mom and Dad. It hasn’t fallen far away from the camp.” “Ah, no! If we go back down and tell them about it, I’m sure we’ll go back home, and you can kiss the camping weekend goodbye,” Oscar replied. “No way. I’m not going to miss the chance to see what has fallen on the woods.” He pondered for a bit and, planting himself in front of me, told me: “Listen! This is what we’ll do...”