Interpretive Essay 2011 Winner

Michael Voss, grade 4
Salt Lake Elementary School

Chapter 24 ½

            The scuffle of shoes echoed along the rough, rock walls of the cave.  This was no ordinary cave, though.  It was a secret meeting place built twenty years ago to use for smuggling babies who were in danger to safety.
            “Hand me that new light bulb, will you, Gary?” called Hodge, as he attempted to screw in the only light bulb in the room.
            “Are you sure this plan will work?” answered Gary, handing Hodge a bulb he had found in the box he had carried up with them to the site earlier in the day.  “This plan cannot be sabotaged by those ‘time savers.’”
            “This plan is foolproof,” Hodge said, taking the bulb and screwing it in the socket of the small overhead lamp.  “Unlike the last time when we didn’t cover our tracks, this time, we won’t be stopped, not even by Alonzo.”  He stepped down off the small ladder and stuffed the old bulb into the box.  “Thanks.  Now we can see their faces better.”
            “But what if the time savers do show up and ambush us?”  Gary asked.  “That could cause some major mayhem with our plan.”
            “Don’t be ridiculous,” snapped Hodge.  He walked across the room and attempted to heave the hand-scanner, which was disguised as a rock, to the entrance of the cave.  “Even if we were ambushed, we would still probably beat them, for we have the best Elucidator of them all.
            They spent a few minutes in silence as they continued to fix up the cave in time for the arrival of the children, The Missing.  Gary lifted heavy wooden boards to replace the on the benches.  Hodge attempted to program the keypad for the door.
            “We have to be careful,” warned Hodge.  “We have to be clean, and we especially have to be sure those three nosy kids don’t expose our plan.”
            “But two of them are the ones we want, so how are we supposed to separate the two boys away from that little girl?” Gary asked.
            “It’ll be easy,” Hodge replied.  “All we have to do is get them when they undoubtedly come to the adoption conference.  Even if the girl does come to the conference with her brother, she won’t be able to go with them because we’ll be taking them up to this cave, and she’ll have to stay in the auditorium with her parents.”
            “Still, our cover could be blown in front of a lot of witnesses besides the kids,” Gary argued.
            “Well, for one thing,” Hodge said , “we can trap all the witnesses using the elucidator, then we could figure out what to do later.  Perhaps we could put them in time prison or make them work for us.”
            “At some point, someone is going to figure out that these kids came from different time periods,” Gary retorted.  “Then what?”
            “Wow, maybe I should have chosen a different partner,” Hodge responded angrily.   “Look, we are doing what is right for history.  We are saving kids.  Even if their disappearances were noticed, so what?  That was the past.  This is the present.  It won’t matter.  Even the ripple effect.  It will be change what people have learned and changed what is in the history books, but we saved a person’s life, so that is good.  We are doing everyone a favor, not giving them a problem, so I don’t understand why people are trying to stop us.  I mean, at first, the other time travelers encouraged us to rescue the children from their bad lives, but when we started saving kids whose disappearances were noticed, they called us sloppy and wanted to stop us.”
            “Well, I see their point that we mess up time and make everything different,” Gary answered.  “but I am on your side, Hodge.  This is bogus.  We are trying to save children.”
            Hodge checked to make sure all the electrical systems were working.  Gary, meanwhile, made sure the surrounding area inside of the cave was clear of debris.  He picked up rocks the size of basketballs as if they were pebbles and threw them down the hill.
            “Well, everything’s finished now and perfect for the kids,” Hodge said with a sigh of relief. “We’ve been waiting thirteen years for this moment, and it’s finally come.  Those thirteen years we spent trying to think about how to recapture them, and now we will.  The time crash was big back then, but now this re-kidnapping event will be even bigger!”
            “Yes, Hodge,” Gary answered, realizing that his argument had been lost.  “Still, I’m worried.  You do know the saying, ‘some things are not as easy as they seem.’  Our plan could still go wrong.  Some people from the adoption conference might come to see how we’re doing and find that we have allegedly captured 36 kids who were in a mysterious plane crash thirteen years ago.” 
            “Now you’re just being paranoid,” Hodge said with a little irritation in his voice.  “That will never happen.  We just told them we are going for a walk in the woods, but we did not specifically say where we were going.  They don’t even know about this cave we made twenty years ago.”
            “All right, I trust you,” Gary said, as they both stepped outside the cave and into the sunlight.
            “Don’t worry, Gary,” Hodge said.  “Once we go through with this plan, we will be rich and worry free, so try to start destroying all your worries right now.”
            They both stood silent for a moment, only listening to the rustling of the trees, the chirping of the birds, and at one point the grinding of the cave door shut.  They both walked silently down the trail with the same thing on their minds: recapture the kids.  The pair disappeared around the bend, leaving the cave behind and heading back to the auditorium where in a few weeks their visitors would be waiting.


The Process

At first I wanted to write a prologue for the prologue, but my mom said that would not work.  So I thought of Gary and Hodge preparing the cave for the missing children of history.  I wanted them to have a conversation back and forth to enhance their evilness.  I think they came across as a mixture of good and bad, but more bad because they captured people and thought about putting them in time prison.  It took three weeks for me to think about what I wanted to say in the story.  I drew a picture in my head of what the scene might look like, then I drafted the story.  I said the words aloud while my mom typed because I knew they story was going to be long and I am a slow typist.  When we edited the story, my mom went over the entry checklist to make sure I was covering everything.  She also made some suggestions on how to make the big argument sound real.