I stood before the foolish children, their parents and friend and friend’s parents tied up next to me, my eyes flashing with hatred. I could remember all of it. Every bitter moment.
It was dark and smelly inside of that dark, cramped box. But suddenly it burst open. I looked around, startled at my surroundings. A grinning face stared at me from the other side of the glass. And I was confused.
But soon I realized-this boy really did care for me. I was like an alter ego to him, something he could rely on when he felt sad.
We explored islands for days, weeks, months, even years, and I was always happy with my master. But one night, when the boy was supposed to be sleeping, we were completing an island with not much left to go. And then…I lost a fight to a pirate. I lost all of my doubloons. The boy swore loudly-we had been working on this for hours. He glanced at his clock, and I saw his face pale. He scrambled for his bed, hastily tried to slam his laptop shut, and clambered into bed. A woman came in. She noticed around her-the boy was white-faced and still clothed, not yet in his sleepwear. She looked over to the laptop and her mouth became thinner, as she saw it was not closed all the way. She yelled at the boy. He tried to deny it, but it was very hard.
And the next day, I did not see him. Nor the next day, or the day after that, or the day after that. Not for a week. Not for a month. More. I waited almost the whole time, but I became enraged. The boy would not see me again. I was…an orphan. I left behind a new dummy poptropican in my place and left to see the real Poptropica.
I became a loner. I won islands by myself, without the help of the boy. I became famous. And then one day, I came to the new island. I gulped and tried to clear my mind-I had heard the boy crying about an island disappearing, called by this name-Monster Carnival Island. But I persevered. And then I met Ringmaster. He pulled me aside and explained his real goal.
Then he regarded me strangely, almost pityingly. “Join me, boy. I know your past. I see your future.” He held up a hand, and images danced across his palm-the boy gazing at my birth, the boy and I playing our first island, trying to finish that one island, and then…and then…the disaster that ended us.
I swiped his hand away. His mouth quivered slightly, but he did not speak. “How do you know?” I whispered, petrified. Raven looked strange in the moonlight. “I know things, child. For instance, I know this.” He raised his hand again, and images of two quarreling siblings packing flashed to life. I heard voices. Adult voices. A father. A mother. The parents I never had. The scene played in my mind’s eye, and I boiled in hatred.
“It’ll be you and me, boy. I’ll be your master,” he coaxed. I shook my head and drew a wand from my pack, and pointed it at myself. “Wingdam raritan!” I screamed. I grew. My hair became more orderly, I grew taller, my arms widened…
I stood tall over Raven. “No,” I said, adopting a much deeper voice. “I’ll be in charge.” Raven slowly grinned and nodded, then grasped my hand firmly and gave it one quick, hard shake.
And you know the rest.
“Why do you have to do this?!” screamed the girl. “Why must you take them away from us.” My eyes flashed, and I believe even she saw it. “Don’t you understand!?” I screamed. “I have to! If I don’t, he’ll kill me!” I jabbed a finger at Raven.
He did not look angry-on the contrary, he looked mildly pleased. “How did you know, boy?” he asked quietly. “I knew the whole time,” I said, my voice quivering. “You’ve always wanted to. You saw me, with my master, doing everything we pleased, and you desired it.” For the first time, I could feel the child swell up in me again. Please, I begged. Make it stop. Please make it stop. I had no choice. It was my life, or theirs, and I preferred mine.
And a strange feeling rose up inside of me. Guilt. How could I think that? I was unworthy to live. I must sacrifice myself. These kids were the future-they must live. I? I was already dead.
And I knew it.
I sighed. I let my hands dangle to my side. Raven saw me. “Boy,” he said, a malicious look on his face. I looked at him, channeling every square inch of hatred inside of me to him. “You want someone to die tonight?” I said. “You’ve got someone.” I kneeled down and let my head sink. At least let the children escape, I begged silently. Please, let them take their parents, they are only children, please. Raven growled. He was starting to look incredibly menacing. “Well,” he said. “I suppose quite a bit of blood will be spilt tonight.” And the transformation began. His nose shrunk back in. His mask disappeared. His rather impressive hat disappeared, and he stood there for a few moments. Then the scary part happened.
Scales spread across his whole body. He grew long tentacles with talons, like an octopus had mated with a bald eagle. His mouth began to foam. And he grew. He kept growing until he was fifty feet tall. The monster loomed a shadow over all of us.
But then it happened. I looked at the kids, and we went into perfect understanding: We must do this together. I pointed at the girl and the boy that had been sitting rather close to her, leaving the boy who had already been transformed alone. They both became vampires, like the girl’s brother, and I…I became the thing I had always dreamed of.
Scales spread across me as well. I grew a long tail, and my legs disappeared. Wings, huge, scaly wings, spread out from my back. Long fangs spread from my jaws, and long talons, good for gutting bears, grew out. I grew huge, bigger than the enormous kraken. I was a dragon. And we attacked.
I slashed at every inch possible that was unprotected by his armor, blew fire directly in his eyes, attempted to strangle him to death with my long tail, but nothing was working. I finally realized what must happen.
I ran at him. The children, who had been using their screeches in his ear to distract him, flew into three different spots. I rammed into the twenty ton kraken and we tripped off of the ledge that led to a far, far drop-directly to the core.
“No!” said a voice in my head. It was him, snarling and attempting to hold me off. I looked into his eyes.
“I’m going to kill you.”
We flew off the ledge together as I waved slightly to the children, accepting my doom.