Everything is quiet now. No one ever thought it would ever be that way, not after it all started. We owe it all to five kids. They didn't want to be heroes; they even tried not to be. We couldn't let that happen. We had to push and push them until they realized how important they were. The world was in danger and they were the only ones who had the powers to save it. They did it by finding out who they were and, most importantly, by trusting each other. You could say it was magic.
This story was not supposed to be told. It is supposed to be a secret, to protect the kids and keep the world safe. Still, it should be told, and if you promise right now not to tell anyone about what you will soon read, then you will read a story unlike any one you've ever heard before.
It's a story of heroes, alien invaders, and the power we all have inside us that can save us. It's the story of hopes and dreams and how we can use them every day to make our lives better. Promise not to give away the secret and read on. You won't regret it.
It all started at a house on Long Island. There was a big family gathering on a Sunday, a birthday celebration. All the adults were upstairs talking about whatever adults talk about. This time, they might have been talking about the family golf trip, where all the men went to Pennsylvania to play golf while the women planned a trip somewhere else. Usually, the kids didn't have much to say about it, and this time was the same.
Jack and Braden were busy playing a game on television, Sly Cooper. Jack had the controller in his hands, pressing the buttons as fast as he could. Jack was seven years old, with blonde hair. He was pretty good at the game, but at this moment, he was having trouble getting past one of the monsters. He tried to jump left and got hit by the monster hard. Braden stood up quick from the couch.
"I know how to beat that monster. I did it last week. Let me show you," he said, reaching for the controller.
Jack pulled it away. "No. It's my turn. I'll get it."
"But you're doing it wrong," Braden insisted.
"I got it."
"No, you don't. You're gonna get killed again."
This time, Braden was right. Jack tried to jump left again and the same thing happened. He wanted to throw the controller on the floor but he had gotten in trouble two weeks ago for the same thing. Throwing controllers wasn't a nice thing to do.
Instead, he handed the controller to Braden. "Okay, it's your turn."
"It's about time." Braden took the controller. He was almost eight himself, but unlike Jack, he had dark brown hair. He was wearing a camouflage flannel shirt and tan pants, one of his favorite outfits.
He went toward the monster. It came at him with a big hammer and swung hard. Braden jumped right and avoided the swing but didn't see the next one coming. The monster clonked him on the head and he was out. He was pretty sure he knew how to beat it, but the monster was so strong. There had to be a way. If he could only remember what he did last week to get past him.
Haley was busy playing with Jillian and Gabriella, her two younger cousins. Gabriella, who was only two years old, was playing with blocks and Jillian, who was five, was helping. Haley wanted to play something else but she knew Gabby couldn't play along so she decided the right thing to do was let her play. After all, she was being quiet, which was what the adults wanted.
What Haley really wanted to do was talk about the dream she had the night before. It was really weird. She felt like she was being pulled into this circle. She wasn't scared because it wasn't scary, and in the dream she felt stronger than she ever had before. She felt like she could leap high into the air easily. She just wanted someone to explain it. The problem was, before she woke up, she heard a voice tell her not to tell anyone about it. The voice sounded familiar, like someone she knew, but she couldn't remember who. She wondered if maybe one of her cousins had ever had a dream like that. She wanted to ask really badly but she figured the best thing to do was listen to the voice. Plus, her cousins were younger than her. She was almost eleven. They wouldn't understand.
She figured everyone would just think she was crazy anyway.
"You got killed again," Jack said to Braden. "We'll never get past this monster."
"I know one way we can," Braden said, smiling.
Together, they yelled, "Uncle Johnny!"
Haley and Jack's mom came to the top of the stairs. "What do you guys want?"
"We need Uncle Johnny," Jack said.
"Oh," Jack and Braden said at the top of their lungs.
"Do you want me to come down there and turn that system off?" Haley and Jack's mom, Aunt Tina, asked.
Braden and Jillian's mom came to the stairs too. "What are you doing, Braden?"
"We were trying to beat this monster and couldn't so we wanted Uncle Johnny to come downstairs and show us how," Braden said, as nicely as he could.
"Didn't Aunt Tina say he was eating?"
"Yes. But I thought everyone finished eating already."
"Uncle Johnny got here late."
"Stop it or both Aunt Tina and I will come down there and turn the television off, do you want that?" Aunt Lisa asked.
"I didn't think so."
"But nothing," Aunt Tina said. "I'll ask Uncle Johnny to come down, when he is finished eating." The last few words were said sort of angry, Haley noticed. Not angry angry, like when someone broke something or lied, just angry, like if Braden and Jack didn't give in, angry angry was coming soon.
"Okay," Jack said, and plopped down on the couch. Haley thought he was going to say something else back, but she was happy to see he was smart enough not to. Braden went back to playing the game. Jack was pretty smart, but sometimes he didn't act that way and they got yelled at for something she didn't even have anything to do with.
When Aunt Lisa and Aunt Tina were gone, Jack said, "Parents can be a pain." Haley knew he said this as a joke but he still shouldn't have said it. Sure, there were times when she got angry at her Mom and Dad, but not too many times. She was going to say something to Jack, tell him to take it back but she didn't. He probably wouldn't listen anyway.
"Oh no," Jillian said.
"What?" Haley asked.
"It's my doll. She went wee-wee again."
Jack stuck his head out from the side of the couch. "Your doll did what?"
"She went wee-wee. I gave her too much water again. When she has too much water, she goes wee-wee a lot. Now I have to change her diaper. A mommy's work is never done."
"What kind of doll goes wee-wee?"
"Baby-Wets-A-Lot," Jillian said. "I brought her and three other dolls with me today. Baby-Wets-A-Lot drinks water and then either goes wee-wee or cries. Sometimes she does both."
"That's stupid," Jack said.
"Don't be mean," Haley said.
"It's okay, Haley. Jack, you go wee-wee and cry and I bet when you were a baby you did both at the same time."
Everyone laughed, except for Jack of course. Jillian was right, everyone did that so there was a perfect reason why someone would make a doll that did. Haley wasn't so sure she would want a doll like that. Well, she had other things she wanted. One of the most important was a laptop. That would be cool, to have a laptop, so she could play games and go on websites almost anywhere. She didn't think she had much of a chance of getting one, but that wasn't going to stop her from asking, that's for sure.
Braden and Jack tried to beat that level of the game a few times more but they got bored because they just couldn't get past that one part. Haley was tempted to try herself but she didn't think she'd have a chance and she didn't want to fight to get a turn.
Just when it seemed like Jack and Braden were about to give up, Uncle Johnny came down the stairs.
"I hear someone's having trouble down here," Uncle Johnny said.
"We can't get past this monster," Braden said, "We tried going left and right but he keeps getting us."
"I even tried jumping," Jack said, "just like you showed us but it doesn't work. Maybe the controller is broken."
"We haven't been throwing the controller, have we?"
"No," Jack said. "I thought about it but remembered I am not supposed to do it, so I didn't."
"Good. Now, what part are you stuck on?"
Jack and Braden showed the part they couldn't beat and Uncle Johnny remembered it was the same part they had a problem with the week before. It was pretty tough, but Uncle Johnny knew the trick and showed it to them again.
"You have to jump and swing at the same time. That throws the monster off balance so you can sneak past him on the right. Sometimes you don't have to knock out the monsters to beat them. Sometimes you have to use your smarts and beat them that way."
"You don't have to beat them up?" Braden asked.
"Not all the time. A lot of these monsters are bigger than your character. Your character is smarter than them, and so are you. So use that."
"I like beating them up," Jack said.
"So do I," Braden agreed.
Uncle Johnny turned and looked at Haley. "Silly boys."
"You got that right. I am the one who has to be around them all the time."
"Maybe you should show them how silly they are sometimes."
"Okay guys, I got you past this part. Think you can take it from here?" Uncle Johnny asked.
"Sure," Braden said, "it's my turn so I can take it."
"No, it's my turn," Jack said, trying to take the controller from Braden, "you remember, you died last."
"But I still had one more life left," Braden insisted.
"No, no. You got killed twice. Every two lives we change turns."
"Enough," Uncle Johnny said. "I don't care whose turn it was. If you guys don't stop, I'll keep playing, and you know it will be a long time before I die."
"Oh," Braden and Jack said.
"Do you guys want to keep playing?"
"Then learn to get along. I could tell you who goes next but I want you to solve this yourself. You guys are cousins, right?"
"Yeah," they answered.
"Hey, what's rule number one?" Uncle Johnny asked.
Haley smiled, rolled her eyes, and said along with Jack, "Listen to Uncle Johnny."
"And rule number two?"
"Listen to Uncle Johnny."
"Okay, then. So, like I was saying. You are cousins and friends. You shouldn't fight, you should be nice to each other. You guys figure this out. I am coming back down here in a minute and I want to see you guys getting along, not fighting over something silly like whose turn it is. There are more important things than that."
Haley agreed. Getting a laptop was certainly more important than arguing over who got to play some stupid game first. But, like Uncle Johnny said, silly boys. Haley wondered how silly Uncle Johnny was when he was a boy. Probably pretty silly, she thought.
After they sang 'Happy Birthday' the kids came back downstairs and the boys went back to playing their game. The boys started to play the way Uncle Johnny taught them, but before long they were trying to beat up the monsters instead of sneaking around them. Haley watched for a little while, and every time they tried to attack the monster, she could see a way to sneak around it. She tried to tell them, but it seemed like they had their 'Girl Ear Filters' on, as they had called them once, and couldn't hear her.
Haley was tired, and felt even more so when she saw both Gabby and Jillian sleeping on the couch. She sat next to them, telling herself that she wouldn't go to sleep, just rest her eyes a bit. Jack and Braden, frustrated with the game, sat on the couch across from her. It looked like they were going to go to sleep, too. She closed her eyes, and felt the darkness wrap around her like when she went to bed. She fought to stay awake.
Luckily, her brother and cousin helped out.
"Uncle Johnny!" they yelled and yelled, trying to get him to come downstairs to help them with the game again.
Haley opened her eyes and rubbed them. They felt itchy like when she woke up in the morning, but she hadn't even been sitting down for four minutes. She could see the clock on the cable box, so she knew she wasn't crazy.
"Can anyone hear us?" Braden asked. "We're having trouble with the game again."
Braden had said that pretty loud, but no one answered. That wasn't normal. It didn't take much noise for someone to come downstairs. Braden yelled again, and Jack joined him.
Haley started to worry, but she didn't want to let the rest of them know it. She was the oldest and she had to keep her cool, even if inside, she felt anything but. She tried to think what could possibly be happening, then remembered that Uncle Michael had brought over a video and the adults were probably upstairs watching it in the kitchen and couldn't hear them.
Still, the TV in the kitchen had to be pretty loud, and she didn't hear anything coming from upstairs at all.
"Where is he?" Jack asked.
"I don't know. Maybe they are busy upstairs," Haley answered, trying to sound like she believed what she said, even when she didn't. She figured that was probably what her parents did a lot.
"He must be sleeping," Braden said.
"But Uncle Johnny only falls asleep on Christmas Eve," Jack said, "he never does it any other time."
"He could be tired," Braden said.
Jillian sat up. "What's going on?"
"We can't get Uncle Johnny to come downstairs. No one is answering," Braden answered.
"Is that all? I can get him to come down here."
Jillian jumped off the couch and ran up the stairs. She stopped at the top of them, like she ran into a wall. Her head hurt a little, but that didn't make sense. She could see the hallway, but couldn't go past the top of the stairs.
"Ouch," she said, rubbing her forehead.
"What?" Haley asked.
"Something's in my way."
"Yeah, I can't get past the stairs," Jillian said.
"Is the dog gate in the way?"
"I would have seen that."
Haley ran toward Jillian, and she got there quicker than she would have expected to. She didn't really notice it until Jack said something.
"Wow," he said. Jack said 'wow' a lot, but this one sounded serious.
"Wow what?" Haley asked.
"You just ran through the air," he said.
"Yeah, almost like you were floating."
Haley had sort of felt that, but she didn't think it was anything. "So?"
"So, it was cool. Can you do it again?"
"Um, no. I have to see what Jillian is talking about." Haley made it to the top of the stairs and put her hand out toward the hallway. Before she could get her hand past the top step, she felt something push her back. It wasn't hard, like an invisible wall. It was more like trying to stretch a rubber band further than it is supposed to go, only this didn't snap.
"That's weird," she said, looking at Jillian. Jillian just shrugged her shoulders.
"I can't get upstairs."
"We better call someone," Haley said.
With that, everyone starting yelling for their mommies and daddies, and no one answered. Gabby had woken up from all the noise. She looked at everyone. Jack was the closest to her, and when he looked at her, he felt like he couldn't look away. It was like Gabby had control of his eyes and wouldn't let go.
"Gabby, stop it," he said, but she just smiled at him. Jack felt the urge to get something for her, but he didn't know what she wanted.
Haley looked at Jillian and said, "We have to do something."
Jillian seemed like she was ready to cry but she held herself together as best she could. Haley put her hand on her shoulder. Normally, Haley would want to cry too, but for some reason she felt a calm feeling come over her, telling her she had to take control and everything would be okay.
"We just have to think, Jilly. Think."
Jillian closed her eyes and squeezed them shut, like she was really thinking hard. Haley thought she looked funny doing that, but she closed her eyes and did the same thing, so if Jillian opened her eyes for a second, she wouldn't feel bad.
Jack still felt trapped by Gabby, not in a bad way, but he couldn't look away. He could tell now that Gabby wanted a doll. But it wasn't just any doll, it was a particular doll, a doll he had seen before. A picture came to his mind.
Then, he knew what she wanted: Baby-Wets-A-Lot.
He looked around and couldn't find the doll, but he felt like he really needed to. He looked on both couches, under the old wooden table in the center of the room. He found a football they had been looking for, a couple of Lego's, an empty Capri-Sun, but no doll.
"Just try to think of something that can get us out of this," Haley said to Jillian, both of their eyes still closed tightly shut.
Braden had been quiet through all of this because he had noticed something but didn't know how to tell everyone else. When he had looked at the Playstation controller, he was pretty sure he made it move. He couldn't be completely sure, but he was as sure as he had ever been about something. He wanted to try it again, but he was scared. No one could move things by just thinking about doing it. That was stuff you saw in the movies, not something you could do in real life. At least, that was what his parents and other adults had told him.
He stared at the controller, but it didn't move. Maybe he had just thought he had moved the controller the first time. There was no way to know. Maybe he had to do something special to make it work. He really had no idea and there was no way to know for sure.
"Hey, did anyone see Baby-Wets-A-Lot? Gabby wants it" Jack asked. He wondered if anyone would ask how he knew that. He hoped they didn't.
Jillian and Haley didn't answer. Jack could see they had their eyes closed like they were thinking about something. Jack felt another nudge in his mind from Gabby. It seemed like she was getting impatient and really wanted Jillian's doll, the one that went wee-wee all the time.
"I see it," Braden said. He pointed to a spot next to the TV, and Jack walked over to grab it. Before he got halfway there, the doll lifted off the ground and floated over toward Gabby.
"What the--?" Jack asked.
The doll kept floating across the room and landed softly on Gabby's lap, like it was following Braden's finger.
"I did that!" Braden said.
"How?" Jack asked.
"How should I know? I just did it, that's all I know. I did it before with the game controller."
"A minute ago."
"I didn't see that," Jack said.
"You don't believe me?"
"I just said I didn't see it."
"But you just saw me do that with the doll, right?" Braden asked.
"Well, I saw the doll float across the room."
"Yes. I did that!"
Haley opened her eyes. "What are you guys talking about? We are trying to think of a plan here."
"Braden said he made Jillian's doll fly and that he made the Playstation controller move without his hands."
"I did it, I swear!" Braden insisted.