John and the Djinn: Pick Your Own YA Fantasy Part 3

PYO-Logo[Welcome to part three of my continuing blog series. I write the book, you pick the plot. For part 2, please see here, and part 1 is here.]

“I’m going to sneak in with some of the other tourists,” John said, wishing his voice sounded more confident.

Khalid raised his eyebrows. “Wearing bear claw slippers and pajamas? You’ve got some interesting definitions of ‘sneak.'”

John blushed, glancing down at his clothes. He’d forgotten he still wasn’t dressed. Getting transported by djinn in the middle of the night will do that to you. He cleared his throat and said, “I know that. I was thinking you’d . . . change my appearance before I have to try sneaking. We’re far enough away from the entrance for magic to still be okay, right?”

“Masterfully deduced,” the djinn said. “Though I must warn you that magic becomes unstable the closer we get to the portal. A disguise that’s working here might completely backfire at an inopportune moment.”

“It’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

Khalid clapped his hands together, and a wave of cool air blasted over John from his head to his feet. He blinked, and when he checked his clothes again, he was wearing shorts, a Hawaiian shirt, and sandals with socks. A camera was slung around his neck. He frowned at Khalid. “Really? Sandals with socks?”

“You’re the one who wanted to blend in with the tourists, kiddo. It’s better than bear claws.”

Point taken. John squared his shoulders and started to head off toward the pyramids, striding through the deep sand and wishing he had something to drink.

“Hold on there, fido!” Khalid hurried to catch up to him. “You need to bring the book, and you need to know which pyramid to go to.”

“Aren’t you coming with me?”

The djinn shook his head. “I told you. Magic makes the portal unstable. The less I’m around, the better. I’ll check in now and then to see how you’re doing, but this is your adventure, not mine.”

“But what if I need help?”

“Adventures aren’t adventures unless lives are endangered. Everybody knows that. Besides, you’ve got the Lost Tome of Ra. It should have some interesting insights when you need them.”

An icicle of fear sank down John’s spine. “But I can’t . . . die, right?” Surely the djinn wouldn’t let him endanger his life. This was a favor to his Great Uncle Urville, after all. And Khalid had promised to get John back before the cake was done baking.

Khalid smiled. “Death! The greatest adventure of them all! Here’s the book, there’s the pyramid. See you in an hour or two!” With a quick point and a poof, the djinn vanished from sight, leaving a slightly smoking book lying on the sand next to John. The eye on the cover was open and glaring at him. John glanced at the book, then at the pyramid Khalid had pointed to, then back to the book. With a sigh, he picked it up.

Today was not going as planned.

He flipped the book open. It was all written in hieroglyphics. Just a bit of leafing through it was enough to convince John he wasn’t going to find any help there. Lousy djinn. All John knew was the entrance to the library was somewhere in a pyramid. Hidden. Magical. He had a book he couldn’t read, was alone with people he didn’t know, and was supposed to get to a door he didn’t know how to open.

This was a lousy adventure.

But it was also his only way home. So taking a deep breath and holding on tight to the book (careful to avoid touching the eyeball, of course), John headed to the pyramid.

He could quickly see he was going to have to be somewhat selective about which group he went in with. The Japanese tourists, while plentiful, didn’t exactly allow him to blend in. And while there were some Europeans there, they all seemed to be non-English speaking. Germans, Italians, French. How was he supposed to sneak in with a group if he didn’t even speak their language? He spent some time examining the other groups. looking for the best fit as he pretended to photograph the pyramids and passing camels.

The French group had about thirty people, mostly families. A few had kids his age. There was a boy who seemed open and friendly enough. He was interested in what was around him and talked to the other people in his group, at least. Maybe John could be approach him and see if he’d help. It would be good to have some assistance, since the djinn had bailed on him.

Then again, the German group was almost entirely made up of kids his age. Who knew how they’d afforded it. Maybe it was trip for a school for rich kids? A girl in the group kept looking at him as he passed by, whispering to her friends and laughing in a way that made John think she was making fun of him. He’d be able to blend in better with that bigger group, but not if she caused a scene. Plus, she was good looking: long brown hair and a dimple when she smiled.

John was intimidated by dimples.

And besides, a third group–the Italians–was heading in first. Right now. There were no kids in the group, but all the adults were engrossed in each others conversations. In John’s experienced, they were probably distracted enough that no one would object if he tagged along (assuming the people taking tickets as you walked in didn’t notice.) They were already approaching the entrance. John was out of time. He looked between the Germans, the French, and the Italians, and he made a choice based on gut instinct alone.

Make a Choice

Time to vote, peoples! Is John going to go with the French (and try to befriend the boy his age), the Germans (and deal with that mysterious girl somehow), or the Italians (and try to go in solo)? Get your vote in by Sunday evening!

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