Seven hurried back through the cornfield. Approximately 5 minutes later she admitted to herself that she was lost.She kept passing the same big stone etched with the words ‘I love Nevada.’
The stone had just come into view AGAIN…when she heard crying. Surprised, she followed the sound until she came upon a little boy. He couldn’t have been more than seven, with floppy brown hair and troubled, hazel eyes. He wore sneakers (whose laces had long ago come undone) and jeans with a sweatshirt that looked like it may once have been orange. His cheeks were streaked with tears, and he was huddled on the ground looking miserable.
He looked up at Seven at her approach, “Wh-who are you?”
Seven smiled, “My friends call me Seven.”
A small smile crept over the little boy’s face, “That’s a funny name.”
Seven laughed, “Well, I suppose it depends on your point of view. Are you lost?”
The smile disappeared, “Well, you see, I found this key and my older sister really likes keys so I thought I’d give it to her for her birthday. But then I heard her coming down the hall so I hid the key in a book. It was my favorite book, The Scrambled States of America. Well, later I went to look at my book and WAMPO! I was in this cornfield, and I can’t find my way out! I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way home!”
Tears pricked the little boy’s eyes.
“Oh, don’t worry! We’ll get you home,” Seven said as she sat down beside him.
Seven felt a sinking sensation in the pit of her stomach. Getting this little guy home would be no problem, but what might happen after that could be.
Back in her world, everyone knew about the magical keys Stories made. In fact, finding one was considered good luck. The keys had a special power. Stories were known for going into Story Worlds. In fact, they were the ones who made sure tales had happy endings. Story worlds were built off of imagination, and so were a little crazy. But whenever a Story went into a World, and started a new adventure; what happened would pop into some writer’s head, from a real world. Those writers usually wrote the ideas down and sold them, and a new tale was born! That was why Stories had to be so careful. They didn’t want people reading books with sad and horrible endings (which had happened more than once).
Sometimes the original tale was marred by editors’ ideas or the writer didn’t grasp the full truth of what happened. The Stories decided they wanted others to be able to experience the stories for themselves, and in doing so, keep the adventure alive. So they made the keys.
Put one into a book, begin to read, and BAM — you were in the story, living it! In keeping with their love for the unexpected, Stories began circulating keys randomly, casually losing them as they went about their day.
Occasionally, Stories hung out in the human world, and though technically they didn’t want to leave keys behind there, it could happen. Humans, or Earthlanders, as they were known in her world, had no knowledge of the keys. When found, there was nothing that indicated the key was magic. It seemed only a decorative key; the kind people want to find and keep as a treasure. Sometimes, Earthlanders, keys, and books mixed, as needed. So Seven was fairly certain this little boy was an Earthlander, and that could be a problem. However, she kept this all to herself.
“We’ll help you get home,” she repeated encouragingly, “but right now let’s get out of this corn maze. By the way, what’s your name?”
“Oliver,” he answered, “Whose we?”
“My friend, Cale and I,” she answered cheerfully as Seven helped Oliver up. “Cale isn’t with me right now, but once we find her, I’m sure she’ll be able to get you home.”
“Do you know the way out of here?”
“Nooo… but I’m sure we can find it.”
Oliver smiled and took Seven’s hand, “Yeah,” he said “And then once we’re home, I can show you my dinosaur collection!”
Seven smiled and the two walked off through the corn.