They started two hours before daylight, and at first, it was not necessary to break the ice across the canal as other boats had gone on ahead. In each boat, in the darkness, so you could not see, but only hear him, the poler stood in the stern, with his long oar. The shooter sat on a shooting stool fastened to the top of a box that contained his lunch and shells, and the shooter's two, or more, guns were propped against the load of wooden decoys. Somewhere, in each boat, there was a sack with one or two live mallard hens, or a hen and a drake, and in each boat there was a dog who shifted and shivered uneasily at the sound of the wings of the ducks that passed overhead in the darkness. Four of the boats went on up the main canal towards the big lagoon to the north. A fifth boat had already turned off into a side canal. Now, the sixth boat turned south into a shallow lagoon, and there was no broken water. It was all ice, new-frozen during the sudden, windless cold of the night. It was rubbery and bending against the thrust of the boatman's oar. Then it would break as sharply as a pane of glass, but the boat made little forward progress. 'Give me an oar,' the shooter in the sixth boat said. He stood up and braced himself carefully. He could hear the ducks passing in the darkness, and feel the restless lurching of the dog. To the north he heard the sound of breaking ice from the other boats. 'Be careful,' the poler in the stern said. 'Don't tip the boat over.' 'I am a boatman, too,' the shooter said.
Score = 4 Write 1 Abstain
Episode 3 - The Dream Rovers
Tapio leapt from a mountaintop, searching for the dream lady. He landed with catlike grace, then jumped again, soaring over valleys where animals lurked—a herd of deer, griffins, mountain sheep. He paused only long enough to see that the dream lady was not hiding among them before making the next jump. Again and again he leapt, until the mountains stopped and he could go no further. The world beyond the mountains was hidden in swirling blue mist. The dreamscape. That's what the dream lady had called it. He could wake up right now—but she was out there somewhere, and wouldn't she be proud if he found her on his own? Images appeared in the mist, visible for an instant, and vanishing again. He focused on one of these, a turreted castle, and stepped forward. Indigo mist filled the world. Tapio clawed his way through, fixed on the castle. At last he pushed through and drifted to the floor of a stone balcony. He wasn't alone. An old man sat on a cushioned throne, idly petting a griffin-like creature that crouched loyally beside him. His bushy eyebrows went up. "Smallest nit I've seen yet," he said. Tapio tried to imagine himself taller. It didn't work. The griffin jumped at him. Its pointed beak dug into his shoulder, and though he felt nothing he screamed at the fear of it. Wake up, he thought. Wake up now. But nothing happened. "You're some hero, picking on a child." The dream lady!
Score = 3 Set 2 Write
Episode 2 - Armand
There was no saving my dignity. Not with thirteen marbles in my mouth. I, Princess Armand de Lyon, was acutely aware I looked ridiculous—and that I was drooling on my second-best dinner jacket. “Now, if you please, Your Royal Highness. Once more,” said the Royal Tutor from his orange satin chair. I hated that chair. I had once gotten sick on it. Aunt Eline had cleaned, then upholstered it pumpkin orange. Just looking at it made me queasy. My tutelage had begun at sundown. The stars now twinkled merrily, laughing at my attempts to cure my speech. Attempts that had lasted fifteen of my eighteen years. I sighed, tempted to roll my eyes. Father would not approve of eye-rolling even when his heir was being subjected to mouthfuls of marbles. Lifting the small book in my hand, I breathed through my nose lest the marbles slide down my throat. The print stood neat and orderly. I willed the words to form properly in my mouth. Around the marbles. “Gew see duh wibberwy,” I mumbled. The tutor automatically handed me a handkerchief to wipe the spittle from my mouth. Instead, I filled the handkerchief with the wretched marbles. The tutor raised his bushy eyebrows. “N-no m-more.” Traitorous tongue. “Your Royal Highness, your impediment shall remain without proper diligence.” The man rolled his “r’s” and crisped his “t’s”. Precisely. Exactly. “I have t-tried everything with p-proper d-diligence. I—” the words stuck in my throat, refusing to leave. I gaped like a dying fish. Out words! When the words did come, they gushed, elbowing one another. “I w-will n-not d-do m-more. The l-lessons will f-fail.” As I have.
Score = 4 Ready 1 Set
Episode 1 - Warped
June 15, 2009 It was tomorrow when Charlotte’s plane landed at Heathrow airport. She thought time travel was supposed to be instantaneous. Instead, it had taken about twelve hours for the entire trip, including a layover. She felt instant relief, however, at being able to stand up and move around again, the blood returning fully to her limbs. After staggering out of the terminal with her fellow passengers, Charlotte made her way past security, fighting the grogginess in her brain as she looked for signs pointing toward the baggage claim. But, before she could find her way, a tall, thin gentleman caught her eye. He stood just outside security, looking right at her with light blue eyes, through bottle-bottom glasses. Right, her grandparents had said they’d meet her outside security. Charlotte’s sluggish brain pulled the reminder out with some effort. Changing direction, she headed toward the tall man with short grey hair, who smiled as she approached. Jacen Caller – or “Papa” as her mother said Charlotte called him – looked as he did in the pictures she’d seen, perhaps a little older. Mom said Charlotte had met him before, but she didn’t recall. Papa greeted her and kept a comfortable silence as they retrieved her luggage, and boarded a train that would take them into the city. Charlotte dozed for most of the ride. She awoke to Papa gently calling to her, patting her hand, and the overhead speakers announcing their arrival at Victoria Station. Charlotte moved her hand away and blinked the sleep out of her eyes.