Cassie walked into the room. “Anthony don’t-”
I cut her off. “I’m leaving. There’s nothing you can do about it. Come if you like, but I’m going tomorrow” I said, straight faced. I went to my room. My mother’s old necklace lay on my desk, as usual. I put it in my rucksack, along with all the food, money, my indistinguishable stuffed dog, dad’s silver pocket watch, and a picture of me, Mom and Dad when we went to Florida. We look so happy, not a worry in the world. Not knowing that Mom was sick, and that dad was soon to follow, I thought to myself with tears forming in my eyes. I had forgotten Cassie was with me
“I’m going with you. I couldn’t bear to leave you” I realized silent tears were streaming down her cheeks, too. I couldn’t wait to leave. This house had so many bad memories. With Cassie with me, leaving home might actually be fun! It was too late for Mom but I would find Nicholas D. Ellsbury. I would save Dad. Ellsbury was the only one who had ever figured out the cure to the disease my dad had, Hilariex. The problem was, Ellsbury wouldn’t share what the cure was no matter what, for fear it would get into the wrong hands. He was a professor at Bemidji State University, and everyone knew who he was.
“You realize you might not see your family for a long time?” I asked Cassie
“Yeah, but who is going to protect you from all the big bad animals?” she responded. I laughed. The truth was, everyone knew that I was one of the toughest kids in my school, but my friends like to joke about it. Mostly because Cassie was the only person to match me.
The next day, after Cassie slept at my house, we left at about 4:45 a.m. and snuck out into the darkness. We started along the old trail that everyone in our village knew, because some people like to take night walks. (Including me.) We doubled back and took another old path that nobody went on, knowing that it lead to a dangerous rushing river and if you fell in, in just a few hours you’d be in the ocean. It was hidden well, easy to fall into. It was almost like Mother Nature’s revenge. Who knows how many people that river has swallowed up?
“A-Are you sure this is safe?” Cassie stuttered with her voice a little higher than usual.
“Of course” I said with a smile that felt fake, and out of place. I tried to sound brave but inside I knew I was scared, and I hoped Cassie couldn’t see through my act. (though she tells me now she could.) “Here’s what we’re going to do.” I said. “As soon as we get to the river, we’ll get off the trail. I’ve seen an old, like, SUPER old farmhouse and barn. Since no one ever purposely comes this way, with the exception of me, we won’t be found. When it gets to be light, we’ll keep going on old dirt roads. No one goes there, either, and we’ll keep going and going for miles and miles. Once we-CASSIE! WHAT’S THE DATE!????
“Saturday, May 21, 2027. Why”?
“Just thought it might be important for later” I said, not wanting to tell my best friend what was going on inside my head. “Oh, it’s my birthday” I said calmly
“Okay, calm down” she said sarcastically.“Why aren’t you excited?
“This is the best birthday ever, I’m leaving to try and find a cure for my father! Anyway, we’re in Maine right now, right? We’ll walk to New York and meet my uncle. He’s nice, he won’t turn us in. Then around, through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina. Then to Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Illinois, Iowa, and finally Minnesota, where we’ll get directions to Bemidji. Sound good?”
Welcome to Vermont. A sign said. We were pretty far away, but only a fraction of our trip was over. Sleeping hadn’t been a problem, just find an empty field and use Cassie’s blankets. We still had plenty of food and had kept ourselves entertained through the journey through 2 states. “What was that” Cassie said, panic rising in her voice.
“Yip” the thing said again To me, it sounded like a small dog, but the noise after that was a bark, and sounded like a big dog. We had to check it out. Up on the path ahead of us was two dogs. Cassie’s face was sooo happy. Her mouth opened wide, and happiness shone upon her face.
“That’s a yellow lab” I said. It kept bumping into stuff like trees.
“That’s a Shiba Inu.” Cassie said. “Can we call her Riley?” she said while cradling the puppy.
“Sure, and the lab is Ali”?
“Yeah.” Cassie said offhandedly. “And I’m sure they’re girls, is that good enough?” she said hopefully.
“Yeah” I responded Suddenly realized something. The lab’s eyes were foggy, and clouded over. I also realized Riley was gently nudging Ali. “Cassie, I think Ali is blind, look at her eyes” I started to worry. “that must be why we found them together, Riley is acting like a guide dog to another dog,and I just saw Riley nudging Ali.”
“Can we keep them Anthony, pllleeeaaassseeee please please please?”
“Absolutely, but did you hear what I said earlier? Ali is blind. I’ll take care of her, but Riley is your responsibility.”
“Yeah, who cares it’ll be an adventure,” she said excitedly. (She had no idea) I was really excited and happy, but that would end soon.
“HEY KIDS! Stop in the name of the law,” Sirens blared. We ran.
Cassie and Riley ran through the Vermont woods, and hid behind a tree. For the first time since being 12, I was scared. Terrified. Petrified. Plus, Ali and I were left to confront a Vermont State Warden. I considered telling the truth, but that would get me in even bigger trouble. “Kid, you were just violating Vermont State Law. We could send you and your friend to juvie. Where is she, anyway? Plus, It didn’t look like any of those there dogs had a license”. He had a thick accent, and improper grammar that was hard to understand, but I got to the point. Anyway, as long as Cassie was nearby, I was safe. I had an idea if she wasn’t.
“Dad!” I quickly glanced at the guy’s name tag. “Warden Lookdar is bothering me! And you being the chief police of the state, you should have him under control not bothering innocent children!"
“Coming!” Cassie’s great impression of a man’s voice came back. Score! I thought.
“Kid, I know my boss’s voice and that ain’t it. What you called, anyway,”
“Um, Josh,” Cassie had heard the man’s comment, and she came out of the woods.
“What the!!?? My boss does have a son named Josh! But I seen ‘im
"You can battle, or you can be a good boy and come with me,” Ha! He thought he could win a battle against Cassie and me! There’s a lot of people in a police force. They could call for reinforcements. I thought. The next while wasn’t pretty. I said some things that I shouldn’t repeat, and we realized we had to run.
“ Run.. On my count. One… Two… Three!” I whispered to Cassie as we backed up against each other. We ran like the river, Riley close at our heels. Once we were a good while away, we both doubled over, panting. I noticed it immediately.
No. Noooooo. All alone and helpless.
“ALI!!!!” Cassie tried to hold me back, but I broke free and ran. Already I felt affection for the dog that I hadn’t felt in weeks. All awareness of my body, my surroundings, everything, was forgotten. All I cared about was getting that dog to safety. When I got there, they were hauling a resistant Ali into an animal control truck. The scene was so sad. Ali didn’t know what was going on. The police didn’t seem to care. Hatred boiled inside me, but I took control. Not a great time for hate. Actually, no time is a good time for hate, but I’ll think about that later. I thought. I didn’t worry. I had a plan.
Lookdar had shown me a picture of the Josh that I pretended to be, so I knew what he looked like. I had all the right supplies, so in a good five minutes I was done. I used furry brown leaves for hair, and somehow made my face look like Josh’s. Ali was getting tired. This had to work.
“Lookdar!” I said in a different voice than my normal.
“That’s my dog you’re haulin’”
“Yeah, and if you don’t give her back I’ll call my father. I swear. She’s new, and I don’t want a traumatized dog with me. That other guy you saw with ‘er? Friend. I know I’m lucky it’s you so don’t go lecturing me. Give her back”. I was proud of my little speech.
Lookdar let Ali go without question. I had disguised myself as the real Josh, and I guess my imitation was good. I herded Ali back to Cassie, who squealed in delight and hugged Ali. After a moment’s hesitation, she hugged me too.
“Anthony I was so worried-I didn’t know where you were actually I sort of did but I thought you wouldn’t come back- they would haul you away too-what happened”? She said in one breath.
“I’m fine. So, here’s what I did…” I told her the story of how I had tricked the officer, almost lost my temper before I had the disguise, and how sad the scene was. I didn’t leave out a thing. We decided to be more careful. I checked the pocket watch. 4:15. We could still get another 3 hours of walking, and stayed closer to the forest Riley and Ali stayed back, and every time I looked at them, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. Riley trotted up and nuzzled my hand so I pet her, then she ran back and restarted guiding Ali. Cassie grabbed my hand. It was warm. She lead me through a short stretch of woods to a big meadow where she flopped onto the grass. I had worked her far past her limit. There were great purple bags under her eyes and she looked exhausted.
“Want me to take the first watch?” she asked. We had been taking 3 hour shifts at night until neither of us needed sleep. We both needed enough rest
. “I got it.”
“You’ll wake me up, right?” She knew what I had been planning. I agreed on one circumstance: She had to say if she was tired the next day. When I fell asleep that night, I was happier than I had been for too long.
When I woke up the next morning, something felt off. I was quite cold, even with all the blankets. Our deal was, when one of us woke up, and got up, we had to put all our blankets on the other person. I realized it in, like, 2 seconds. Snow! Cassie was up, scrambling eggs over a fire. We had sort of stolen the eggs (We had left money in the chicken coop where the eggs had been.) She had cleared a surface in our little area for all our stuff. We ate quickly, Then after admiring the beautiful snowy scene, began packing. Right before we left, I felt something hit me in the back. I turned, startled.
“SNOWBALL FIGHT!” Cassie roared. It was awesome. We had prepared well for this journey, I realized. Large parkas were packed and used, along with hats, gloves, boots, and scarves. I realized that I hadn’t been thinking about Dad at all these past couple months I felt bad. I knew that dad was still alive, though. I could feel it. He wouldn’t die when his only kid was still out there in the wild, trying desperately to find a cure for him. He wouldn’t die. That was that.
Soon enough (which means a 1 and a half weeks) we had made it to New York, and met uncle. Like my prediction, he didn’t turn us in. We had full meals, went to ball games, and acted like normal kids. At least, we did for for 2 weeks. Then it was back to walking for us. Uncle Ben sent us off with more food and money though, and good luck, he missed his “little bro” Then we even made it to Pennsylvania. We had our “5 state celebration” and bought a cake and a real meal. It was awesome. Even the dogs were in on the fun. Riley chased sticks for hours while Ali just looked happy. Inside though, I was worried. I knew our good luck couldn’t hold up for long. Cassie thought the same thing. That night, we confided in each other. It was almost as if something dangerous was there, looming above us, waiting to be noticed.
The next day, it happened. It was about 8:15 p.m. , when Cassie fell. Wiped from exhaustion, missing her parents, all her siblings, it was too much for her. She crumpled, unconscious. “Cassie. Cassie. CASSIE!” after the last “Cassie”, I was worried. I felt her pulse. Steady. I dumped water on her. Nothing. Finally, I took the biggest risk of my life. (at the time) I grabbed the plants I had been collecting for fun from my pocket, found the one Cassie had said looked tasty and healthy, and stuffed it in her mouth. (I now know that Cassie was joking when she said that) I turned away, unable to see what would happen next. We had been setting up camp when it happened, so I lay on my makeshift bed hoping that I had helped Cassie, not hurt her more than she already was.
Maybe it was minutes, maybe it was hours later that I heard coughing behind me. I checked the watch. Only a couple of minutes. The plant must have worked! Cassie was awake! “Cassie!” I called
“My name’s not Cassie, kid, though I doubt you’ll have the time to find out what it is”
I turned, horrified. A man at least 7 feet tall stood in front of me, pointing a gun at me. One of his friends was pointing a gun at Cassie. ( She was now awake, and I found out later it had been her that coughed) There was five of them, though I would say their top height was five feet. Cassie looked at me. She was confused. Really confused.
“Before you shoot us, can we just talk a little together? You know, say goodbye?” Cassie asked.
“Sure” one of them grunted. Wow, they really were stupid! Cassie and I planned. We weren’t too far from the road. If we both screamed at the same time, someone would hear us. So, we asked if we could pack our stuff for them to steal as a “last good deed” Then we screamed and ran. I made sure to grab Ali, then ended up scooping her into my arms. She wasn’t that heavy, actually. I could still keep up with Cassie. Riley was fine. We ran and ran and ran. Soon enough we were out of Pennsylvania, then into North Carolina, South Carolina, and then, soon enough, Minnesota.
Dad was waiting for me. I quickly convinced Ellsbury, and he gave me some weird plants. Dad ate them and was better in seconds. A party started. Then after the party, dad and I went on a walk. Then he fell. When I reached down to help him up, he would always get a little farther, and then I had the sensation I was falling..falling…..falling. I woke up from my dream, panting. Even though it had been a couple of weeks since Cassie’s fall and our encounter with the band of robbers, I wasn’t going to forget it anytime soon. I hoped Cassie wasn’t having nightmares too. We had made it to North Carolina a couple of days ago. Cassie was now trying to figure out how long we had been gone. She was counting on her fingers, estimating the number of weeks. We had both guessed beforehand. My guess was 2 months. Her’s was 7.
“Ha!” I had said. “We haven’t even been out here three months, much less 6 or 7” turns out we have been out here for 3 months. Actually, going by Cassie’s estimation, we’d been “out here” for 8 months. We were in our ninth state, so we decided to have a celebration at an old farmhouse in South Carolina. We were more than halfway through!
Finally, 3 weeks later, we were in South Carolina. Cassie located a nice old barn with really nice residents. At first, the couple acted kind.. Food and money and a water filter were provided. One night, as I lay awake in the bed I shared with Cassie, I heard them talking. “Let’s turn ‘em in tomorrow. Did you hear they’ve upped the reward to 10,000 per kid? And then the ungrateful little brats walk so willingly into our household.” I had heard enough of the man. I woke Cassie and we packed our bags without a word. Then, once we were sure they were asleep, we snuck out. As soon as we were out of hearing range, Cassie became distraught. These people had been a source of comfort, and then to turn on us like that! The nightmares weren’t stopping either, and now I had the couple to worry about too. I tried not to let on too much around Cassie, though. I couldn’t help it though, when I realized this: I had left our map at her grandparents. Packing in the dark had been such a challenge, I knew we must have forgotten something. Now the owners could track and find us! The map wasn’t such a huge loss, I had traced it, and at least the states were huge. I started calming down. I knew I had to tell Cassie. She wasn’t going to be happy. I was right.
She had yelled her heart out at me, blaming me for everything that happened, including our encounter with the police a few months ago. When she was done yelling, she sat on her “bed” in huffy silence. I hoped she was out of her state by morning. We needed to get going. The next morning, when I asked her about the map, she said that it wasn’t a big deal, that the states were big, showing no sign of our fight.
That day we made it out of Georgia and into Alabama, which would only take a couple weeks due to the fact that we were just cutting across the corner. We were having a lot of fun. I decided to not mention our fight to Cassie again. At our last store she had bought a newspaper and something that count how far you make per day and how fast we’re going. It also calculates how far it’ll take to get somewhere. We typed in Alabama-Minnesota and it said 1000 miles. This trip was longer than I expected. The newspaper was weird. We were way out here in Alabama, almost a year later (11 months) and people were still looking for us. Here is what part of the newspaper article said: Missing Persons Anthony Jeddon and Cassie Reeds are still missing people, almost a year later the reward has been upped to 15000 dollars per kid. Their ages are 12 and 12. We believe that they have had help from Ben Jeddon, Anthony’s uncle. He is now in custody where officers are trying to get the truth out of him. The police have one major lead, a map. The two kids left it accidentally when escaping from greedy house owners they were staying with. Continued on page 2b
The rest on page 2b was what we looked like, and a bunch of other stuff. One of the important things was that was there was that my dad was going to pay all the money if I was found. I could not be found. There was some good news, though. It clearly stated that Dad was still alive, and not showing any sign of going soon. Cassie and I went to bed that night happy. It was warm, and we were in a large clearing.
“Hmm?” she answered sleepily.
“You want to go stargazing?”
“It’s where you stare up at the stars, admiring the beauty of it all.”
“Couldn’t we do that without saying anything about it?” Cassie asked, sounding more awake now.
“It seems more professional if you say it.”
“Whatever, weirdo. Sure.” And so we lay there, my head at her feet, her head at mine, staring up at Mars, and the Big and Little Dipper, Pegasus, and Orion. We ate the last of the Mars Bars we had been saving from our last shopping visit in honor of the planet. Every once in awhile one of us would say something, and we would both crack up. We were in that kind of mood where you laugh at everything. I didn’t have that feeling of dread I had last time we were having anything close to that amount of fun, where Cassie fainted. I didn’t have a worry in the world. I would find Nicholas D. Ellsbury. He would give me the cure. Dad would get better. Everything would be alright. I was positive. Even a while later, that night is still one of my happiest memories, and I’m sure it’s up there with Cassie, too.
The next day our happiness, laughing, and positivity had not worn off.
"Welcome to Tennessee," another sign said. Cassie looked at her used atlas. “Tennessee. Hm. Someone scribbled in the the margin ‘Beware of the bears’ I didn’t know Tennessee even had bears. Probably don’t." Cassie said, speaking for me.
That night as I lay in bed I thought about the weird writing. I decided it must be a fake. Then, just as I was drifting off to sleep… ROAR!!!!! The atlas was right! A huge bear was ascending upon Cassie and I! Cassie and I grabbed our stuff and then we raaannnn. We could hear the huge grizzly crashing through the woods woods behind us. I had read somewhere that grizzlies were the largest, shaggiest, most aggressive, and most outright terrifying bears around. I know now that that is true. Suddenly the crashing behind us came to an abrupt halt.
“Anthony? You all right?” Cassie asked from somewhere off to my left
“Yep. Ali? Riley? You girls all right? Ali and Riley! Oh no, Cassie, I thought they were right behind us, I’m so sorry, we just left them to fend for themselves with a grizzly bear. Oh Cassie, what on earth are we going to do?” I said in one breath.
“We’re going to save them.” Cassie said like I was the dumbest person on earth.
“No, Cassie, we can’t, it’s too dangerous!!”
“Yes. We can” and she ran off into the woods leaving an aura that said “come or stay it’s your decision” I went. The scene I chose to enter wasn’t pretty. There was Riley, attempting to protect herself and Ali at the same time, and Ali, confused and scared. Cassie stood on the edge of the small clearing, unsure what to do . I yelled to Cassie “Catch!” and tossed the fish as hard as I could to Cassie. She knows I stink at throwing, and she knew what to do. She caught the grizzly’s attention with the dead salmon, then chucked it into the woods as hard as she could. The bear lumbered off into the woods. We ran off again, worried that the grizzly would come back. I made sure that both dogs were with us. Though it was me who had the idea, it was Cassie who threw the fish, and Riley who fended off a full grown grizzly. I gave them every ounce of credit I could give.
The next day Cassie and I walked a couple miles. Slowly we made our way through the states, having more and more adventures as we went. Some were fun, some were scary, but finally we made it to the university. We argued and argued with Ellsbury, and we finally gave up. He wasn’t going to give us the cure. My father was going to die. “NO!” I screamed. I woke from my dream, drenched in sweat. It had been terrifying. I hoped it wouldn’t come true.
“What?” asked Cassie groggily. I checked the old watch. 3:15 a.m.. Too early. “Nothing.” I responded “Just a bad dream. Go back to sleep.” We were now in Mississippi. I knew it would only take us about a week to get through,so I hadn’t even mentioned it to Cassie. She was surprised when we got there, because somehow she had remembered what states I had said to her exactly one year ago today. That’s right. My birthday again. I was officially a teenager. Honestly, if I had told myself 1 year one week ago that I would be where I was today, no way would I have believed it. This also meant that I had missed over a year of school, I realized. I had learned so much in the woods, though, so I’m pretty sure it counted as school.
We got to Illinois a week later. “You haven’t been talking about Ellsbury much. Nervous??” Cassie asked.
“Yah think?” I responded. We were playing a game she had packed. (definitely more prepared than me: we had kept ourselves mildly entertained most of the trip.) It was an old game, but fun. We had been playing it a lot during the past year or so. “”The truth is, I’m worried. You may not be, Cassie, because you’re not the type of person who worries much, you’re actually one of the bravest, smartest, people I know, but I’m terrified. What if we can’t convince him? Then Dad is dead. Literally.”
“Thank you, Anthony, for giving me a good argument. I am going to say, using my smarts that you say I have so many of, that Ellsbury will give you the cure. No matter what. Now, what does that sign say? Ah, yes, Welcome to Iowa. Only about a month till Bemidji. Then you’ll call someone to pick us up and drive us back to Maine.” “I’ll call my uncle.” I said 2 weeks later, Cassie and I were walking along a dirt road next to a lake (We had almost entered the land of 1000 lakes) at dawn, where the sun was just bright enough to see, Cassie spotted 3 swans. One was a signet, a baby swan. It was obviously having swimming lessons. On the other side of the road there was a beaver dam. A little farther up were 2 beavers. 2 fawns ran across the road in front of us. I took this all as a good sign. Cassie and I stood, speechless, at the scene, until we realized we had to get going.
Another 2 weeks passed, and we got directions from an old man in a coffee shop to the college. And we were there. The university loomed in front of us,with it’s many secrets. Cassie and I walked inside, found a student, who then directed us to Dr. Ellsbury’s room. He was in the back corner, next to a large poster that read: Science: The World’s Future on it. Nicholas D. Ellsbury was a man with a white beard and glasses, oldish, organizing a stack of papers. Your typical mastermind.
“Mr. Ellsbury?” Cassie said timidly
“As long as you’re not my student, you call me Nicholas. Why are you here?” Nicholas said boldly
.“We… we were wondering whether…” Cassie said. This was the time when even Cassie’s courage faltered.
“We were wondering whether you could maybe give us a little bit of the cure to Hilariex. You don’t have to tell us what it is, just give us enough to cure one serious case. See, Anthony’s dad here has it.” She gestured to me. “And please will you give us a little??” “Who sent you here??!! Was it The New Worlds Science, or A Cure for All?? Hmm? Get out of my office and never come back!! But first, you have to tell me??!!!!!!”
“No, sir, nobody sent us, I already explained. By the way, my name is Cassie, this is Anthony, and we have walked all the way from Maine in one of the longest ways, please, sir."
“NO” Ellsbury yelled. The kind old man was gone. Here was a man who wasn’t to be messed with. I had been quiet all this time. Now I couldn’t hold it in any more.
“Look at this!” I roared. I grabbed 2 newspapers out of my back pocket, one with a picture of my sick dad, the other with a picture of Cassie and I. they both had articles and names. “Look at my father! Look at me! You will give me the cure!!!!!!” Cassie looked surprised. Ellsbury looked surprised. I was surprised.
“No! Leave my office now! My father wouldn’t let me share it!” Ellsbury looked as if he’d said too much.
“Your father?” I wondered aloud.
“Of course!” Everything made sense now. There was no stopping me. “Your father had Hilariex! That’s why you made the cure!” I knew I was right.
“Of course not.” Ellsbury responded meekly Cassie looked at me as if she’d never seen me before.
“Think of your father” I said calmly. “Would he want another loving, kind, smart father to die just because his son didn’t share the cure. Before you moved here, Nicholas, my mother had already died of Hilariex! Your father would want a kid to to completely isolate himself, with no remaining family, just because of you? Would he? You don’t even have to tell us what the cure is, for goodness’ sake!!” I was yelling now. The heads of college students popped in the window.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. My father...” Ellsbury trailed off. “Please” I begged. “No that’s my final answer. Now OUT. “ Ellsbury said. Cassie had been quiet for a while.
“No that’s my final answer. Until you give us the cure, I’m not leaving this room cassie said. She walked over and locked the door.
Ellsbury sighed “ Fine. Here’s the cure. You must take amazing care of it, and I truly hope it doesn’t get into the wrong hands. Actually, I am going to share my cure with the world! Science around the world will know the name: Nicholas D. Ellsbury! And on a more important note, Hilariex will forever be extinguished!! ” Ellsbury said, a grin spreading across his face as he slowly pulled a bottle of clear liquid out of his back pocket. Then his face clouded
“I’m disobeying. My father’s dying words were ‘Don’t share it’ he knew I was making a cure for him”
“Nicholas, how would your father feel if you saw you right now? Proud, if I had to guess. Cassie said
At home 3 days later, I walked through my door for the first time in over a year. Cassie was doing the same next door. “Dad” I said cautiously as I walked inside. Next door I could hear screams of joy echoing around the neighborhood. Soon the word would spread that we were home, and we would become famous. The next day my dad had taken the cure. He was already feeling better, but hadn’t said a word since I got home. Cassie and I spent every moment together, as we had for the last year. To this day, we still do. We have become more than friends, but not then. My dad rose out of bed. Cassie was standing next to me. “Dad?”
“Son” It was a statement.
“I’m sorry. I love you”
“Don’t be sorry” I said. And then Cassie grabbed my hand. I grabbed my father’s hand. And there we stood, happier than we had all been in ages.