I was going through my old material today, and I’m came across something that might be interesting to others, so I’m posting it up here. I’ve been telling people all along that I’ve written eight books, but it seems like that was a lie. My first book was written back in third grade, and it’s Cats Eye Cave. I still remember writing it–it took up a lot of my time for much of that year, as I recall. And reading it, you can tell why. I did a lot of research, included some friends in cameo roles, and almost got through twelve chapters. Short chapters, but twelve of them.
Before I let you read it, I also have to note something else. This isn’t the original beginning. That’s right, even in third grade, I was already editing my writing. The first draft started out something like this:
It was Friday the Thirteenth and Halloween on the same day. The scariest day of the year.
My teacher, Mrs. Allen I think was her name, read this and shook her head. “Bryce, that’s impossible.”
I stared at the opening and tried to think. I was stumped. “Why?” I asked.
“Because Halloween is always on the thirty-first of October.”
I thought some more, then looked back up. “So?”
She sighed. “If Halloween is always on the thirty-first, and Friday the Thirteenth is always on the thirteenth, then there’s no way they could be on the same day.”
This stunned me for a moment. My mind was racing, mainly because this seemed to be a very important part of my story. How could it be the scariest day of the year if it wasn’t Halloween AND Friday the Thirteenth? Finally, I had a jolt of inspiration. “Mrs. Allen,” I said. “Thirteen is just thirty-one backward, so maybe they could happen on the same day, after all.”
Bryce one. Mrs. Allen nothing.
As I remembered it, I never changed it to please Mrs. Allen, but when I opened the file today, lo and behold, the beginning had been altered. Maybe she snuck in and switched it when I wasn’t looking. You never can tell with third grade teachers. In any case, I present to you now, in all its glory (yes, I realize the ending is truncated–it’s as far as I ever got), the full text of my first book:
CHAPTER 1: THE HIKE
One summer day in Utah my friend Benji and I decided to go to Cat’s Eyes Cave. It was a long hike, and we would have to bring a lot of supplies, such as food, water, a tent, sleeping bags, clothes, and our other equipment. We would be staying for a while. Everyone who went to Cat’s Eyes Cave never came back. We wanted to see why.
The Cave was up in a high mountain. We didn’t know the name of the mountain, but it was a long way off. We were trying to leave at 7:00 a.m. It was almost time so we packed and left. We walked for an hour when we finally reached our destination. We were about to go on to the mountain when we saw a snake. We didn’t know that much about snakes, so we didn’t know if it was harmless or not. We thought it was poisonous, so we took an ax out of our equipment and chopped its head off.
When this was all over we started to hike up the mountain. Benji and I looked up and could see the Cave faintly high above. We couldn’t see how the Cave looked, but it didn’t seem that spooky.
We kept on hiking. I looked at my watch. It was 10:00 a.m. We were hungry so we ate an apple.
CHAPTER 2: SECRET CAVE
Finally we started to hike again. We hiked for a while till we found a steep rocky trail with signs of avalanches from time to time. We took the trail to see where it lead.
The trail took us half way up the mountain to another cave. We called it the Secret Cave. A dim light glowed ahead. We went in. When we came out we were right next to Cat’s Eyes Cave. I looked at my watch — it was 12:00 noon. We ate lunch.
As I sat there with a tunafish sandwhich in my hand, I thought over all the things that I had learned about the cave. It was first discovered back in the 1800’s when a French explorer literally stumbled into it. (I found out later he had broken sevaral bones in the process.) Later on, many people had tried to explore the Cave but none came back. I figured that if Benji and I came back, we’d be heroes.
CHAPTER 3: TRAPPED!
When we were finished, we entered Cat’s Eyes Cave. We looked around in the dark and back at the entrance. It was shut! We had gotten trapped! Luckily we had a lantern, and lit it. Now we could see clearly: silver, gray, orange, green, and all sorts of colors. Every entrance to a room looked like a cat’s eye. Benji and I went into one of the rooms. Inside were skeletons. Benji and I were about to study them when there suddenly was a bright light. We looked up and saw a hole in the Cave. Benji wanted to go out, so we did.
When Benji and I got outside, we saw a big paw swoop by us. We turned arond, only to get lots of cuts in our faces. We saw who was hitting us. It was a puma! Suddenly the puma pounced straight at us. We struggled frantically to get away. It was then I remembered I had a pocketknife. I pulled it out and threw it dead into the puma’s mouth. The puma stopped and fell to the ground. We got up to look at it when it suddenly came back to life, clawing the air . I guess we both blacked out because I can’t remember anything after that. When Benji woke up, I was awake and bandaging myself.
CHAPTER 4: BACK IN TIME
“What happened?” Benji asked.
“We got wounded by a puma,” I answered.
Just then a pterodactyl swooped over our heads.
“What!”, I shouted as I looked up and saw the masive reptile, “Pterodactyls have been extinct for years!”
Just then I noticed there were no blood stains on the Cave, no cat or hole, and the Cave looked different. I said this to Benji, but he wanted to study the pterodactyl. I took some meat out of my bag and threw it. The pterodactyl swooped down and started to eat it.
I then took Benji’s knife out, aimed it, and threw. The pterodactyl saw it and tried to dodge, when the knife hit it in the windpipe. It fell to the ground dead. We went over to study it and saw that its wings spread out 51 feet. It had a large head with a nose that looked like a bird’s beak with teeth, a short body and a tail covered with wrinkled, hairless skin. The front legs had four fingers and the fourth finger had long bones. Benji wanted to bring it back, but I didn’t. In the end we decided to bring it back because he could show it to some scientists to help them out.
We picked it up and started on our way. The mountain ended with a jagged cliff that dropped straight down to a murky swamp below. When we hiked up we had used the Secret Cave — but now we would have to find some other way down. We came up with a lot of ideas, but finally we agreed to make the dinosaur into a glider and fly down. It took a while to put together, but when it was done, we took it, got on, and went.
When we landed we seem to be on a rough surface that had lots of lumps all over it. It was tannish brown and was high up. It kept on moving up and down like we were on some kind of large animal. I looked down. We were on an animal!
CHAPTER 5: ESCAPE
I told Benji this, and he went frantic. We jumped up and down and fell off. I jumped after him. Down, down, down I went. When I hit the ground I blacked out. When I woke up I was on a cave covered in red ochre. I got up. Benji wasn’t there. I saw a hole, and went in. When I got in I saw Benji. He was trying to get out of the cave.
Suddenly it struck me, all that had happened. “How did we get back here?”
“I don’t know,” Benji said. “Last thing I remember I was falling.”
“Do you have an idea for getting out?”
“Well, we could try to find a lever or something to open the entrance.”
We looked for an hour and a half without finding anything. But finally we found a button! When I pressed the button a small opening appeared, not in the entrance, but in the side! A little letter popped out. I read it. It said:
Ye who knows not the word shall vanish.
We then noticed, on the back of the piece of paper, ten words. They read:
We figured that crack, open, out, escape, emergency, and danger were too obvious, but nutcracker, breath, wind and bisect were a bit harder. Breath, wind and bisect could be it, but nutcracker couldn’t. Benji said, “Why don’t we try bisect.”
“Bisect,” I said. Suddenly there was a loud rumbling and there came a sound that almost broke our eardrums. I couldn’t believe it. The whole cave was vibrating! Then, just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. I said, “I don’t know if that was the right word or not.”
CHAPTER 6: TROUBLE!
“If it was, it sure doesn’t look like outside to me.”
“But if it wasn’t,” I continued, “I don’t know how we’re going to get back.”
Benji said, “I suppose we can’t try any more of those words,” I said, “Well, let’s see if there are any cracks to open a door.” We started to look and, sure enough, there was a door. We tried to pry it open but it wouldn’t budge.
It was then I noticed that I was starved. We agreed it was time for dinner. We ate, set up camp, and went to bed. When we woke up, we tried to pry open the door again. Finally it moved. We looked outside. We were in a wide, lovely meadow. There were roses, daisies, carnations, violets, and lots of other flowers. I said to Benji, “Why don’t we go ouside?”
He agreed, but right when we put one foot into the field it turned to a rocky, desolate cave. “Oh, no!” I said. “We’re trapped again!”
But it was just then that an eerie blue light filled the cave and a dragon appeared. Benji and I were cornered!
“Benji!” I shouted. “You go right when I tell you to, OK?”
“OK,” said Benji.
The dragon came charging toward us.
“Now!” I yelled. Benji went right, and I went left. Then a great booming sound came and the walls started to vibrate. The dragon had crashed against a wall, broke it, and died.
“Smart thinking, Bryce,” sighed Benji. “If you hadn’t thought of that I’d be dog meat,” he continued.
“Well, let’s get going after we eat breakfast,” I said.
“Wait,” said Benji. “Let’s study the dragon.” It had huge wings and very sharp teeth.
CHAPTER 7: ALLIGATORS
“Well, now that we’ve studied it, let’s get going,” I said. We were in another cave. There were stalactites and stalagmites everywhere you looked. Right below us was an underground lake. It spread out fifty feet horizontally and forty feet across. Leading into it was a waterfall about one hundred feet. Right above us was a sink hole.
“Shoot,” I said. “The sink hole is too high up for us to reach.”
Benji said, “Bryce, why don’t we go into that hole over there?”
We went into the hole. Inside were vicious alligators! Luckily they were in a pit that was about ten feet down. On the other side of the pit was a hole that led outside. We had a small rope ten feet long, but very thick. We decided to unravel it so it would be twice as long. When this was over, we looked for some place to attach the rope. When we found it, we made a lasso, attached it, and jumped across.
When all of this was over and we had gotten outside we looked around.
CHAPTER 8: SURPRISE
It was approximately nine o’clock in the morning. It looked like we were back in our time. In fact, we were standing right in front of my house.
I rang the doorbell. Ding-dong.
“Hello,” said a woman whose face was lined with age. “Bryce! You’ve been gone so long, and haven’t changed!”
“What?” I said. “You’re not anyone I know.”
“It’s me — your mother!” she said.
Suddently everything sent blurry and black. When I awoke I was informed that twenty years ago me and Benji had gone on a hike and never came back. “For a while we searched for you,” my mom said. “Finally we gave up searching. And now, here you are alive and healthy.”
“Well,” I said, “That’s an interesting story. But wait till you’ve heard what’s happened to us. It all started, like you said, when Benji and I went on a hike up to Cat’s Eyes Cave,” I began.
When I had finished she said, “Well, you must be starving.” She left the room to fix us something to eat.
“Pssst, Benji,” I whispered. “I think we should try to get back to our own time. Don’t forget it is the year two thousand and five and they probably have different food than from what we’re used to.”
Just then my mom came in and she had funny-looking things in her hand. They sort of looked like peaches, except they were green.
“These are woodels,” she announced. “I’m sure you will like them.”
I picked one up, looked at it, and ate it. It tasted like a chocolate-covered mint with whipped cream. I took another. Once we were finished, we told my mom about our decision. She said, “I think I can help you. I have a time machine that you can use. It’s no use whatsoever to me.”
CHAPTER 9: TIME MACHINE
We said thank you for it and left. When we had walked a few miles we decided to try it.
“Oh, no!” I yelled. We forgot to ask for the directions!”
“Wait,” said Benji. “I think they’re right here.”
There inscribed on the gold-colored gadget were the words:
How to use this machine. First press the button in middle. Then the molecules in you will separate after you set the time where yo u want to go. Whatever is touching you at the time will go with you.
We weren’t sure the word was “you.” It looked a little light and scrambled. After we did everything, it started to get dark, and I no longer felt myself. It was like I was in another world, and then it stopped. We were in a dirty, disgusting city. There were lights everywhere you looked. There were people, cars, buildings, and towering above us was, no it couldn’t be, the Empire State Building!
“But we did everything it said!” I said.
“Wait,” Benji said. “Let’s loook back at the time machine.”
We looked at it, but it hadn’t changed a bit.
“What’s the matter with it?” I questioned.
“We forgot that we were in the future,” said Benji. “They must not use the word ‘and’ there, so that means that we forgot to set where.”
“Then we just have to set the — ouch! Watch where you’re going.”
The person who had just bumped into me was a short kid with brown hair and a blue and white shirt on and a walkman.
“Watch where you’re going yourself!” he said, and walked away.
“Oh, no!” I yelled.
CHAPTER 10: SEWER
“Shhhh,” whispered Benji. “You’ll attract attention.” The time machine fell down into the sewer.
“It looks as if we’re going to have to go into the sewage system,” I reasoned.
“Oh, no, you don’t!” Benji reasoned.
“Oh, yes, I do, so come on.” I retorted.
We went down to the sewage control office and, when no one was looking, slipped into the sewage treatment system.
There we were in the dark, standing up to our necks in the guck in the Barmeinutor with an unbearable smell.
“I think we lost it toward the primary clarifier,” I said, trying not to let anything in my mouth.
“Then, let’s go,” Benji said. We half swam, half walked to the primary clarifier. Then there was such a pull that we were almost pulled under.
When we finally got out of it we noticed that the time machine wasn’t there.
“Let’s go to the aeration tank,” I said.
When we got there, we caught a glimpse of the machine, just as it went into the second clarifier.
“Let’s go!” Benji shouted.
We followed it until we got to the activated carbon column. When we got there we chased it around until we finally caught it. We decided to get out this way instead of the other way.
We crawled through the dark passages untilwe saw light ahead. We ended up in a dimly lit gutter under Radio City Music Hall. I heard a bum singing in a drunk voice, “I saw a cat, the cat sat on the hat, a fat bat sat on the caaaaaaaat, and the grand mother ate them alllllllllllll!”
“Psssst, Benji,” I whispered. “Get out the screw drivers and we’ll bust this sewer.”
It took about an hour to get out but when we did we smelled like we hadn’t had a bath for three hundred years.
We set the time machine and in a second we were standing before Cat’s Eyes Cave.
CHAPTER 11: THE SECRET ROOM
“Thank you,” I shouted. “We’re out.” We ate lunch.
“Wait, you forgot the reason we came,” reasoned Benji. We wanted to see why people don’t come back!”
“Then how are se going to get back in?” I questioed. “Blast the doorway?”
“No, we will say another one of those words,” Benji said.
“No, I don’t think that they would work again,” I said.
“Maybe there’s a secret button or something like that.”
We banged, pounded, stomped and pressed but nothing happened.
Suddenly the floor dropped from under us, and we landed with a crash .
We had fallen into a circular pit five feet wide with ten exits.
I looked around. The exit led to a different place, but a door blocked all sight.
”One of these exits must lead to the cave ,” I guessed.
”Let’s go into this one,” Benji said pointing to the one on the left.
CHAPTER 12: THE KING
I pressed the button. Zing! The door opened. As we went in I noticed that the room was filled with all sorts of riches , but they were all coated with dust. Once we were in the door shut behind us .
” How will we get out ?” Benji questioned.
” Theres a door in the corner over there,” I said as I pointed to the door.”But first I want to see what kind of room we’re in.”
It turned out we were in a