Gabby raced down the mountain faster than she had ever gone before; forest after
forest, tree after tree. Gasping for breath and badly scratched up, she flung her arms out
wildly and grabbed the nearest tree as it raced past her.
With a pull that felt like her arms were going to be removed from her body, she
hung on with all her might until she felt her feet hit the ground, then fell face-first into the
"Fir tree? Who calls this a fir tree when it doesn't even have any fur", she asked
testily looking at the redness of her arms. Rolling onto her back and taking in deep gulps
of air, she stared wide-eyed into the blue sky high above her. "Why are these people after
me? What did I do? One minute I'm working on my father's farm and the next I'm being
chased out of the village by townspeople who want to burn me at the stake for being a
"Burn you at the stake!" her brain shouted at her, making her roll over and push
herself up with shaking arms back to her feet. With her remaining strength she began
wobbling back down the mountain, searching for anything that could save her. With
seconds seeming like minutes and minutes seeming like hours, she finally spotted the
near-hidden entrance to a cave.
"Oh!" she cried out in exhaustion, "Maybe I can hide out in there?"
Although she couldn't see very far, she made her way into the cave as quickly as
she could, using her hands against the rough wall to guide her into the darkness.
"Just far enough to be out of sight and out of smell of the dogs", she told herself.
"Uggh! I'm sweating like a pig. I must smell awful! No cave will ever be deep enough to
hide this stench", she declared right before she tripped over some rocks and fell to her
"Crawl. Crawl. I'll just keep crawling until I smack my head against the back
wall. Then I'll be too tired to even care if they find me. Maybe I'll knock myself out and
never wake up. Let them find me and burn me. The farther I go the colder it gets in here.
At least I'll be warm again."
As Gabby crawled on hands and knees through the darkness she remembered the
news her village had received a few months earlier. A woman named Joan who had been
burned at the stake in France 25 years ago had now been found innocent of being a witch
by the Pope himself. But it had been too late.
"Well another mistake is about to be made!" Gabby screamed. "Someone meet
the Pope on his way back to Rome and convince him the Vatican's been moved to
Romania." Even though her village was miles away from the new capital city of
Bucuresti that their prince, Vlad Dracula, had just founded, it still gave her a one-in-a-
bazillion chance of being saved from the deranged psycho mob that was after her.
"Burned at the stake?" Gabby trembled at the thought. "No thanks. Not for me.
Maybe you'll be a hero some day Joan of Arc, but I, uh, I think I'll just try to stay alive
and be little ol' me", she decided, continuing to see in the dark with her hands and knees
while landing on one sharp rock after another.
"Burned at the stake? Ouch! The fire must have been so big. Ow! So hot. Argh!
So bright. Youch! I can almost see it and feel it. EEEYOUCH!!!"
The last rock her knee fell on hurt so bad it made her entire body tense up in pain
and eyes pop wide open.....Then she saw it. A faint glow up ahead. "A fire?" she faintly
hoped and began crawling again.
"Yes!" She could feel some heat coming from its direction. The closer she got the
bigger the flame became, and the more heat she felt. She was going to be saved! She was
going to be alright! She got to her feet and stumbled towards the fire, coming closer and
closer until finally reaching it and collapsing next to its wonderful warmth.
"What do I do now?" Gabby wondered aloud to the fire, exhausted, angry and confused.
"You become one of us", she heard the fire answer back.
"Wha-a-a-t?!?" she stuttered, sitting straight up in terror.
"You, become, one of us", a second voice slowly from the flames.
"Wh-oo...Wh-oo...Who are you??"
"Stop sounding like an owl, Gabby. You know who we are", yet a third voice with
no mouth sounded.
This time there was no mistaking who the voices belonged to. She had heard them
yesterday, almost 600 years ago, in her classroom, somehow, in a country that hadn't
even been formed in land that hadn't even been discovered.
"Hello cousin", Ruba, Raian and Ramara sang out in unison as they walked
together into the light of the fire. "Did you enjoy your run?"