Cover Illustration by Nathan Wyckoff a publication of Silver Pen
Issue 13 July 2012
The Silver Pen Writers’ Association Presents a Silver Pen, Incorporated Publication
'Magination Magazine Director and Publisher: Sue Babcock Fiction Editor: Kellee Kranendonk Cover Art: Peekaboo by Nathan Wyckoff ’Magination Magazine is a publication of Silver Pen, Incorporation, which is a non-profit organization focused on quality writing and reading. Kids’Magination Learning Center is a division of Silver Pen dedicated to children who are eager to write stories about the fantastic flights of their imaginations. Copyright ©2012. All reights reserved. No part of this publication may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotation embodied in critical articles or reviews. For information contact firstname.lastname@example.org All stories herein have been compiled by Silver Pen, Incorporated under ’Magination Magazine. These are works of fiction. All characters and events protrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are fictitiously used.
About our Cover Illustrator
Nathan Wyckoff has been an illustrator, painter and writer on the scene for over a decade. Between gallery shows, Nathan frequently publishes illustrations and fiction in numerous magazines, recently being nominated for an AWP Intro Journal Award for his weird poetry. His online illustration portfolio can be viewed at nathanwyckoff. squarespace.com.
by Travis Daniel Bow illustration by Nathan Wyckoff
The Walking Mountains
by Mickael C. Keith illustration by Nathan Wyckoff
Fiction Gabbs Hero by Travis Daniel Bow illustration by Nathan Wyckoff
In the movies, when someone gets a superpower, they always go through this mandatory period of denial. No, this can’t be happening to me, No, I’m not a freak, No, I didn’t ask for this. That’s crap. No one in their right mind would figure out they could fly or shoot lasers from their eyes and then whine about it. They’d go nuts. I know I did. When I closed my eyes with a National Geographic in my hand and thought of myself as one of those little monkeys with the huge eyes, it wasn’t the first time. I was raised on Animorphs, all bazillion books of them, and I would have sold my little brother to gypsies to be one. I was lying on my bed. My eyes were still closed, but I had the monkey’s Page 1
face firmly in mind. I gave my head a little push, and then laughed at myself and opened my eyes. Only it was really bright all of a sudden, and my laugh came out weird, and the National Geographic was huge. It only took a second to click, and I embraced it. I didn’t change back for an hour. I was afraid it wouldn’t happen again, and I wanted to climb and swing from everything I possibly could while I was still a monkey. When Mom finally yelled at me to come in for lunch, I changed back and snarfed my Pop-Tart in about four bites before running back to my room. I shouldn’t have worried. It was easy after that. For a week it was as cool as you’d imagine it would be. I was a Doberman barking at that annoying yapper next door, a scorpion posing in the mirror on the bathroom counter, a mouse freaking out my mom and then a cockroach sneaking through the ducts back to my room. And yes, an eagle. But all that gets old pretty quick. I know it doesn’t seem like it would, but it does. Take it from someone who knows. It’s like suddenly realizing that you’ve got an entire tub of ice cream to yourself. It’s cool at first--the best thing that ever happened to you--but then it stops tasting so good and suddenly you realize that you just finished a tub of ice cream by yourself, and that’s nothing to be proud of. I didn’t want so instead of dangerously. I turned to a
to accept that the ice cream didn’t taste very good anymore, giving the animal stuff a break I gobbled faster and more I turned into a lion and roared in the next-door yapper’s face. garter snake in the kitchen sink.
Then I turned to crime. My plan was to do it as a gecko. Geckos can see good enough, I guess, but mostly they’re small and they can climb on the ceiling of a girl’s locker room. That was my plan. I got a hall pass and went to the bathroom. I crawled halfway across the ceiling toward the forbidden stairway. Then I chickened out. I told myself it was because I was decent and if I started peeping at girls, the next thing you knew I’d be robbing banks. Really I was just scared. What if this thing wore off and I changed back at the wrong time? That fear wasn’t usually enough to keep me from trying something, but in this case it was. Changing back from an eagle and falling out of the sky didn’t scare Page 2
me; ending up naked in the girls’ locker room did. That afternoon I flew out to the desert west of town. After sprinting through the sage in the body of a cheetah--which was a lot more tiring and a lot less fun than it had sounded--I decided that this whole thing was lame if it was just for the fun of it. Here I was, a kid who could turn into any stinking animal he wanted, and all I could think of to do was run around in the desert. I didn’t want to peep at girls or rob banks. I wanted to do something good and heroic. The thing was, it was a lot easier to think of bad stuff to do. When I asked myself what good and heroic things there were to do in Gabbs, Nevada, I came up blank. In the movies, there’s always a villain, and if you’ve got superpowers you’re supposed to save the girl or mankind or whoever the villain’s got. In Gabbs there aren’t any villains. There aren’t even criminals, unless you count crack heads and people driving across state that don’t slow down to come through town. I was pretty sure the Gabbs police (AKA Richard Halman) could handle the occasional out-of-town speeder. During recess I skipped Sixth Grade Soccer. I went on the prowl for someone to save, or a villain to fight, or at least a bully to stop. There was a fourth grader, all cocky because he’d moved up to the big kid’s playground. He was holding a tetherball above his head and telling some girl that she couldn’t play. I slipped into the bathroom. A couple seconds later I emerged as a wasp. My villain now had the ball under his arm. “Hopscotch is over there, Purpie,” he said. She was wearing a purple shirt. “Lemme play,” the girl said. “I waited in line. It’s not fair.” “No way, Jose. Go get a slurpie, Purpie.” “Just beat her,” one of Wes’s friends said. Wes shot his friend an angry look without dropping his overbite smile, then shrugged. The girl stalked into her semi-circle and held out her hands for the ball. “Newcomers serve,” she said. Wes held the ball in both hands and stepped to the line. He held it out. When the girl reached for it, he popped it forward, above the girl’s hands, right into her face. Page 3
It bounced off her forehead. She screamed and held her hand to her face, checked for blood, and then ran off crying. Wes laughed, the top of his mouth hanging out over his chin and his gelled black hair glistening in the sunlight. Then the bell rang. The girl was heading for a teacher, though her nose wasn’t bleeding so the teacher would probably just tell her to go to class. Wes was running for the door anyway, still laughing that dumb laugh. I was after him already, straining my little wings and pumping my stinger, but the bell had surprised me and given him a head start. There was breeze against me, Wes was running, and I had to get back to the bathroom, into my clothes and down the hall to class in the next two minutes. With a sigh (actually without one; wasps don’t sigh) I veered for the bathroom. It was probably like with a dog, anyway. If I stung Wes now, he wouldn’t associate the punishment with the crime. I had to sting him in the act. In class I couldn’t pay attention. That was normal, but I wasn’t drawing a flipbook or making fun of Mr. Barnes either. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Wes and his stupid overbite laugh. It occurred to me that I was in sixth grade and could have done a better job stopping him in my regular body than I’d done as a stupid wasp. When the 3:10PM tick of freedom came, I decided on a whim to follow Wes home. He headed straight for the trailers. Everyone in Gabbs lives in a trailer, unless they’re rich, but Wes lived in the trailers that didn’t even make an effort to look like real houses. The ones with trash on the un-watered grass, no siding around the bottom, and pit bulls chained to the front porches. Wes’s porch had a fat chocolate lab instead of a pit bull. I expected him to kick it or something as he went inside, but he didn’t. Actually, he paused on the steps and petted it. Then he took off his backpack, sat down, and hugged the thing around the neck. I perched in a seedy looking elm, wrapped my sparrow talons around a twig, and watched. There was movement at the window. The screen door opened, and a guy wearing gym shorts and no shirt stepped out. His arms were emaciated, his chest glaring white in the sun, but I could tell by the way he held his shoulders back that he thought he looked pretty good. Page 4
“Hey kid,” he said. “When’s your mom get home?” Wes closed his eyes. The shirtless guy stuck out a bare foot and pushed Wes in the back, almost hard enough to knock him down a step. “Hey,” he said. “Butthead. When’s your mom get home?” “Never,” Wes said. I thought the shirtless guy was going to kick him, but instead he rolled his eyes, stretched, flexed his albino arms, said something about Wes being inbred, and went back inside. Wes didn’t go inside. He hugged his dog, then got up and threw his backpack at the door, where it bounced off the screen and lay on the twoby-fours. Then he stalked over to the sheet metal shed with one missing door and stood in front of it. He scratched his neck and kicked the grass with his toe to dig up a divot. Then he reached inside, flung a couple pieces of junk out of his way, and came out with a soccer ball. It was clearly flat, but he kicked it around anyway. About two minutes passed before he started kicking it against the side of the trailer. As expected, the shirtless guy inside started yelling. Wes kept kicking. After yelling some more, the guy slammed the screen open like someone who didn’t have to fix things and bawled at Wes with his skinny white arms held straight down at his sides. Wes glared at him. Then they both turned at the sound of an Oldsmobile turning into the gravel driveway. The car had a pale donut tire that looked like it had made a permanent substitution when the real tire gave up. The woman that got out was obviously Wes’s mother. She had the same pushed-back nose and a little of an overbite. She was wearing some kind of uniform--I think for the convenience store--and she had several buttons undone. The shirtless guy flexed his abs, which just made his ribs show. “Hey, baby,” he said. “Kid’s just getting some exercise. I told him no video games. It’s a nice day, kids should play outside.” Wes’s mom smiled a tired smile at him and opened the back door to help a little girl out of her car seat. The little girl was wearing pink tights under her shorts and was probably five. She ran towards where Wes was standing on the patchy grass and kicked the ball. The shirtless guy put his arm around Wes’s mother, right there in front of the kids, and opened the screen door for her. Page 5
As soon as the adults were gone, Wes went to his little sister and took the ball away. “Hey,” she said, “I wanna play!” “No, butthead,” Wes said. “Come on, Wes,” she said. “Please let me play.” “Soccer’s for big kids,” Wes said. He made as if to kick the flat soccer ball against the house again, but didn’t. That last disturbed me. It was kind of sad when he said “butthead” right after the shirtless guy said it to him, but that had nothing to do with me. When he said “soccer’s for big kids”, he wasn’t copying some jerk that neither of us liked; he was copying me. I said it every day when the fourth and fifth graders tried to weasel their way into Sixth Grade Soccer. Now let’s get one thing straight: I’m not for giving little kids a free rein. They need to know their place. When I say it bothered me that Wes used my words, it’s not because I’m a social progressive for the playground, it’s just that him using my words made me feel somehow involved in his meanness. He was mean; you couldn’t deny that. Even if I felt sorry for him because his trailer was lame and his soccer ball was flat and the shirtless guy his mom was letting into her house was even more of a jerk than he was, none of that excused him. You make your own choices. Still, I couldn’t bring myself to hurt him. I flew off, first as a sparrow and then as an eagle. I swooped over the sagebrush and the rock pile with old tires scattered around the base. I started dive-bombing a field mouse, then pulled up and got as high as I could. It was boring. It made me sad that it was so boring. Back home I slouched on the couch in quiet desperation. In the movies, a person with a superpower finds themselves when they do something heroic with their lasers or webs. First they don’t want their superpower, then they try to fit in, then they have to save the world. Finally they realize that maybe it’s good to have superpowers after all, else who would save the world? Reality isn’t like the movies. It’s the opposite. Page 6
I wanted to save the world
all along, and I’d used to think maybe I could do it if I just had some power. Now I had power, and I didn’t know what to do with it. I wanted to be heroic, but I didn’t know what needed saving. I watched my little brother Mason pushing his cars around on the carpet among the little crushed up pieces of Cheerio that hadn’t been vacuumed up yet. He started telling me about the red one, about how it was his “Flip Car” and it could go a hundred miles an hour and do flips when you hit the flippy thing on the back. I thought about telling him the flippy thing on the back was called a spoiler and his stupid “Flip Car” could probably go about three miles an hour if you threw it. Then, I almost ignored him completely, but for some reason I got down on the floor with him and asked about the green one with the flames on the sides. I said it looked like it could go pretty fast too. Mason said no, not as fast as the Flip Car. We had a race. Sure enough, the Flip Car won. Then it did a double back flip. It hit me, about halfway through showing Mason how to attach the little plastic track to the kitchen table, that I didn’t need to be an animal to do what I was doing. Being an animal wouldn’t even help. Actually--this occurred to me when Mason’s car went off the jump and he screamed like he’d been driving it--being an animal wasn’t even that fun. THE END
AUTHOR BIO: Travis Daniel Bow grew up in Reno (where he raised pigs), went to Oklahoma Christian University (where he broke his collarbone in a misguided Parkour attempt), married an electrical engineer (who destroys him in ping-pong), got his master’s degree from Stanford (where he and his bike were hit by a car), and now does R&D for Nikon.
ILLUSTRATOR BIO: Nathan Wyckoff has been an illustrator, painter and writer on the scene for over a decade. Between gallery shows, Nathan frequently publishes illustrations and fiction in numerous magazines, recently being nominated for an AWP Intro Journal Award for his weird poetry. His online illustration portfolio can be viewed at nathanwyckoff. squarespace.com. Page 7
Fiction The Walking Mountains by Mickael C. Keith illustration by Nathan Wyckoff
Where would the shifting sand dunes of the Serengeti take him if he were to ride them? wondered fourteen yearold Mali Kubra. The tall mounds of silty earth that drifted by his tribeâ€™s tiny settlement every few years fascinated the young goat tender. Now, as they approached again, Mali had a plan. He would travel with the dunes. This was an opportunity to set out on his own and see some of the world beyond the place he had lived his entire life. It was something he had long wished to do since he had first heard magical stories of the roving dunes. Now that it was happening yet again his fascination for the unique phenomenon Page 8
reached a fever pitch. “The Walking Mountains saved a herd of gazelles from hungry hyenas,” his grandfather had often told him. “The laughing dogs could not climb the sliding sand to reach their prey and eventually gave up their pursuit. All they could do was watch as the dunes carried their meal away, ” proclaimed Paju Kubra to wide-eyed Mali. “Where did the dunes go, nkulu?” asked Mali, enthralled by his grandfather’s tale. “To a magical place, my grandson. A great crater to the north formed at the start of time by a falling star. All animals gather in harmony there, and predators no longer slay. In the reflection of the crater’s deep lake you may remake yourself as you wish.” “I could be as a great huntsman, nkulu?” asked Mali, his excitement growing. Yes, it would give you the prowess of Shaka, if that is what you wish, Mali,” confirmed Paju. Many villagers thought Mali’s grandfather’s stories foolish and ridiculed him, but Mali had grown up on tales of the great Zulu warrior Shaka, and his heart raced at this grandfather’s words. “Paju speaks from silly dreams,” they admonished their neighbor, and their mocking words angered Mali. “My grandfather is wise and you must revere him as the elder of our village,” he protested to the unyielding critics. Part of what motivated Mali to ride the dunes was to prove that his beloved nkulu’s accounts were more than the fantasies of an aged herdsman. * * * Over the next few days as the shifting sands turned north and began to drift from sight, Mali composed a note to his family telling of his intent to ride the Walking Mountains. He promised to return after reaching the wondrous place of his grandfather’s enchanting stories. While his parents slept, Mali gathered some flat bread, dried goat Page 9
meat, and a gourd of water for his journey. As the dawn began to break, he set out for the Walking Mountains that now lay outside his village. Reaching the top of the highest dune was a challenge because the fine sand gave way beneath his feet. It took all of his energy to finally reach the summit, but the view quickly restored his resolve. The vast plains stretched endlessly in every direction, and Mali wondered where the great crater lay. When the sun rose high in the vibrant blue sky, he shaded himself with the sleeping mat of pounded wood bark his mother had made for him long ago. As the hours passed, his village faded from view. When darkness regained the heavens, Mali prayed to Olapa, the moon goddess, asking that she deliver him safely to the great opening in the ground. A sudden breeze caressed his face, and he was certain she had heard him. Soon he fell into a deep sleep and dreamed of what marvels lay before him. Astride the creeping hillocks the next morning, he saw great Masai hunters dashing across the plains with their spears held high, giant baubau trees loaded down with pale yellow vervet monkeys, and undulating dust devils staining the cloudless sky. How long would it be before he reached the crater that his grandfather had told him about? he wondered? It was then he beheld vast herds of migrating wildebeest and zebra in the distance and believed it would not be long. They, too, travel to nkulu’s Ijuro, and soon I will be there, thought Mali excitedly. However, it was not to be that day, and Mali settled into the cooling sand for another night’s slumber beneath the bright stars. * * * Before the night was over, Mali was awakened by a disquieting sound that caused him to leap to his feet. It was the deep raspy grumble of a lion and he sensed it was a large one. While still too dark to see the predator, Mali knew it was not far away. When the rising sun finally cast light on his surroundings, he spotted the big cat at the base of the dune. The animal was attempting to reach him but could not gain traction in the sand. It continued to try throughout the morning while Mali burrowed into the dune hoping to conceal his body. Finally, it appeared to give up as it moved away. “Thank you, Olapa,” Page 10
muttered Mali, gratefully, but then the lion turned and charged the dune with renewed determination, leaping halfway up to where Mali was huddled. Certain he was about to be eaten, Mali closed his eyes and braced for his fate. Suddenly he felt the sand move from under him and he was falling. “Please, Olapa, please!” he squealed as he plunged downward. Then he came to an abrupt stop and dared to open his eyes. He no longer was atop the great dune but far below it, and to his tremendous relief the lion was no longer in sight. Before him lay an infinite landscape occupied with every kind of animal imaginable––all inhabiting the same tract of land without malice or rivalry. Cheetahs, jackals, and hyenas wandered peacefully though the herds of gazelle, zebra, giraffe, and antelope. “Nkulu, I am here! In the crater!” rejoiced Mali. “It is as you told me.” He looked toward the top of the crater and saw that the Walking Mountains had vanished. He then surveyed the vast area before him and beheld what at first he was sure was a mirage. No . . . no, he thought, it is the lake that grants wishes, and he moved swiftly in its direction. Indeed, it was no illusion, and Mali joined the diverse animals at the lake’s edge as they drank the precious water. After a few deep gulps, Mali took notice of his wavering image. My wish, he remembered, and immediately asked to be transformed to a splendid huntsman. Please make me as fierce as Shaka, implored Mali to his reflection, but nothing changed. All he saw before him was the slender boy he had always been. Again, he asked that his wish be granted but he remained unchanged. Disappointed, he departed the lake and walked to the base of the crater determined to return to his family. You were half correct in your story about the great crater, nkulu, but I am no huntsman, he lamented as he made the first steps of his ascent out of the crater. When he reached the crater’s rim, he feared the lion that had stalked him earlier would be waiting. To his great relief all that he saw were the empty plains he had traversed on the Walking Mountains. His village lay in the direction of the sun’s descent, and he calculated it would be several days before he reached it. His food supplies were gone, but his thirst had been well sated by the lake in the crater. Page 11
* * * The sun beat down on Mali sapping his strength as he trekked across the parched ground a day later. He feared he would not survive the journey home. When night arrived, he continued his westward movement, feeling slightly reinvigorated by the cool breeze that accompanied the darkness. In the morning, he was thankful that clouds concealed the sun and he strode onward despite experiencing a profound hollowness in his stomach and a growing weakness in his legs. From out of nowhere a dust devil descended on him filling his eyes with sand. As he cleared them, he heard a growl and immediately knew that the lion that had stalked him to the crater was back. Indeed, just a few feet from him stood a fearsome lion whose murderous gaze was fixed on him. To Mali’s surprise, his fear had suddenly vanished and in its place he felt a surge of adrenalin. When the lion began to move toward him, he braced himself for battle. “You will regret this day!” declared Mali, amazed both by the words that spilled from him and the courage he felt. As the boy and beast measured one another, Mali felt the muscles in his body expand. He then noticed a sword had appeared in his right hand and a war shield in his left. “I am a great huntsman!” he shouted, as the lion leapt at him. With a single swipe of the glimmering blade, he slashed the lion’s neck and with a second slicing gesture removed its clawed foot. Then everything became dark and quiet. When the light returned, Mali found himself lying on the ground. When he inspected his surroundings, the lion was gone as was the sword that had slain it. No longer was his body muscular as it had been during his encounter with the giant feline. Was it a silly dream? wondered Mali, thinking of what people had said about his grandfather’s stories. Yet deep down he felt it was not. But why there was no evidence of the grisly encounter perplexed him. * * * Early the next day, Mali reached his village and was greeted by his Page 12
family and members of his tribe. “Did you ride the Walking Mountain as you wrote in your note?” inquired his parents. “And did you see the great crater?” asked his grandfather, causing the villagers to laugh. When Mali replied that indeed he had been to the crater, the laughter increased. “And did the animals commune with one another . . . the hyena and the antelope, the cheetah and gazelle?” asked a neighbor, sarcastically. “Nkulu was right,” declared Mali. “There was no killing amongst them. And the lake made me like brave Shaka.” His claim served to increase everyone’s amusement, except for his family. “Yes, we can see that you are now a great fighter,” teased a villager between heavy giggles. “But I killed a lion,” said Mali defensively. “And how do we know that? Your silly words are not proof. You are as Paju. Full of grand dreams.” Mali felt anger and frustration. Perhaps he was the fool they thought him to be. Was it all just his imagination? he wondered. “What is in your pouch?” asked his grandfather, and Mali recalled he had felt a sudden heaviness in it upon entering his settlement. When he upturned it, a huge, furry paw fell to the ground. “It is a lion’s foot. Look at the claws,” mumbled the villagers. “And it is fresh. See the blood that still drips from it. My grandson has killed a great beast as only a fierce huntsman could.” “Yes!” agreed everyone. “It is true. This lion was just slain by Mali. It is a new kill.” * * * In the years that followed, the villagers listened intently to Mali and Page 13
his grandfather’s accounts of the Walking Mountains. And when the shifting dunes reappeared, everyone in the village excitedly climbed to their summits hoping to travel to the wondrous crater with its miraculous lake and wild animals that lived together in peace.
AUTHOR BIO: Michael C. Keith is the author of over 20 books on electronic media, among them Talking Radio, Voices in the Purple Haze, Radio Cultures, Signals in the Air, and the classic textbook The Radio Station. The recipient of numerous awards in his academic field, he is also the author of dozens of journal articles and short stories and has served in a variety of editorial positions. In addition, he is the author of an acclaimed memoir–– The Next Better Place, a young adult novel––Life is Falling Sideways, and three story anthologies––Of Night and Light, And Through the Trembling Air, and Hoag’s Object. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Pen/O. Henry Award and was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Award for short fiction anthology.
ILLUSTRATOR BIO: Nathan Wyckoff has been an illustrator, painter and writer on the scene for over a decade. Between gallery shows, Nathan frequently publishes illustrations and fiction in numerous magazines, recently being nominated for an AWP Intro Journal Award for his weird poetry. His online illustration portfolio can be viewed at nathanwyckoff. squarespace.com.