Joy's Journey: Finding Max

by Emily Palmer

This story begins in Joy's apartment in Los Angeles, California, in the year 2068, in the future.

Joy has wavy blond hair and blue eyes. She became a multi-millionaire at age 4 by winning the lottery, and donates almost all of her allowance (100 dollars per month) to the poor and to animal shelters. She is 11 years old. Joy is 5 feet tall, thin, athletic, and most of the time, kind and gentle. She likes to do gymnastics, go horse riding, dance, and go to private karate lessons. Joy has one

14-year-old brother, Paul, who she loves to fight with (she always wins). They live with their mom. Their dad died in a coal mine explosion when Joy was only 2 years old. Also, when she was 9 years old, she fell off a swing and broke her ankle, and had to go to the hospital for 4 months. Joy's favorite animals are horses.

Los Angeles now is not a very safe place, and there is a lot of crime such as murder, stealing, pick-pocketing, and even "alien" sightings! Most of the women sew clothes and grow a garden. The men build houses and apartments. Young children love to read and older children and teens are always on the computer, like Joy. For past-time, adults sleep. Sometimes Joy's mother sleeps all day when she is not working.

It is hot and dry for most of the year. It is late October now and is getting cool. Apparently it is going to be a cooler than usual winter.

Joy lives happily most of the time, except when she thinks of her dead father.

One day Joy was out picking berries from a nearby bush. When she returned home she walked into the house and found it empty! Paul and Joy's mother were kidnapped by something that left huge footprints and metal parts all over the yard.

Joy examined some of the metal parts and ran inside. She found a huge scarf and packed food and clothes into it. She ran over to her neighbor's house as fast as she could and found Midnight, their horse. She quickly and skillfully saddled and bridled the horse and mounted.

"Go, Midnight!" she said.

He jumped over the fence and the journey began.

Joy knew she was going in the right direction. She felt the wind in her hair and she smiled, riding was one of her favorite things to do. She suddenly saw a large, dark forest. It loomed above her and she told Midnight to stop. Joy did not know what to do. She had an idea and decided to tie Midnight to a tree, leave him here and continue on foot. "Sorry boy I have to leave you here," she whispered to the horse. Joy bravely walked into the scary forest. 'I wish I had my dad right now, the forest is so scary,' Joy thought. Joy had not been watching where she stepped and she fell. "Oof," Joy exclaimed. She picked herself up and kept on walking.

Soon she came upon a small house that was painted camouflage green. By now hours had passed and Joy was hungry, so she sat down near the little house and ate some of the food she had. That's when she realized that she had forgotten to bring water. She sighed. She always drank a lot of water at home. 'How about I ask - whoever is in this house - for a drink of water'.

She boldly walked to the front of the house and ...a dark and scary voice said, "Stay away or you will die!" Joy screamed and fell backwards a few steps, but she stayed there because she was now very, very thirsty. After around ten minutes the door opened and a very tall, scary looking boy stared down at Joy.

"Hi," Joy said shyly. The boy's gaze softened and said gruffly,

"What do you want?" His voice sounded as if it was not used a lot.

"I'm thirsty. Do you have some water?" Joy said.

"Max, who is it?" said a voice who sounded very smooth, almost like a snake. An iguana slithered up to the boy whose name was Max.

"It's okay Iggy, it's just a girl who wants water." Max walked inside and soon brought out a glass of water and handed it to Joy.

"Thank you," Joy said politely. "By the way, my name is Joy. Nice to meet you, Max." She held out the hand not holding the glass of water. Max stared at the hand, and hesitantly took it and shook it. Max's hand was so big that it completely covered Joy's. After she let go, she drank all the water and gave the glass back to Max. "I will go now," Joy said.

"Where?" answered Max.

"Umm," Joy thought.

"Until you decide where, you can stay with me."

"Really?" Joy asked. Max ushered her in. Inside it was crammed with animals. And they were all asking who Joy was.

"So why are you in this wood alone?" Max asked. So, Joy told Max her life and the story of the metal parts.

"Seth is working again," Max said after Joy was finished.

"Seth?" Joy asked.

"The worst alien in the universe and beyond," Max explained.

"I have to save my mom and Paul!" Joy blurted out.

"I know and I will help you."

"Really?" Joy asked.

"I'll get my two-person race bike," Max said, standing up and walking out of the room. Joy had no idea what Max was talking about. Max came back lugging a big bike-ish thing. It had pedals. They went outside and hopped on. Then they saw a black shape in the sky and Max knew it saw Seth. The spaceship bore down on them and a bomb flew towards the race bike.

"Oh my gosh!" screamed Joy.

"I wish you would not be here Joy," said Max. "I mean not to insult you," he added quickly.

"Umm, we have a small problem here," said Joy pointing to the bomb which was now a lot closer and coming fast.

'Boy, Max can run,' Joy thought as Max sprinted away. She quickly raced after Max and found out that he had run a few yards, and then stopped and crouched behind a bush.

"We have to fight Seth," said Max.

"How exactly are we going to do tha...?" The explosion shook the ground and the race bike shattered into a million pieces.

"Darn, Darn, Darn, Darn!" cursed Max. "That was my only race bike."

"Sorry," whispered Joy softly.

"It's not your fault."

"Yes it is. I am the one who made you come on this quest that will never work anyway." Joy stood up and began walking away.

"Joy!" yelled Max. He saw Seth sneaking up on Joy from behind. Seth was a monster. He looked like part human, part wolf, and part cat hybrid. Joy spun around but it was too late. Seth grabbed Joy with one long hairy arm.

"Max, help me!" Joy screamed.

"I'm coming Joy, hang on."

"He's squeezing the life out of me!" Joy managed to say.

Max was running towards Joy. Then suddenly he stopped and fell to the ground. An arrow was sticking out of Max's back and already a huge pool of blood was forming under him.

"What is it Max? Maaaaaaaaaxxxx!!!" A huge bucket of foul green stuff was thrown over Joy's head and she also fell.

Joy woke up and saw Max was carrying her slung over his broad shoulder. Max put a finger to his lips.

"Shh. We are in the alien spaceship, and we have to find your family and get our unwanted selves out of here."

"Thank you so much Max. I would have died without you."

"You know, the first time I saw you, it was like I had lived in darkness and you were a spark of light."

"Do you really think so?"

"Yep, I most surely do."

"Max, are you sure you know where you are going?" Joy asked a while later.

"I truly have no clue."

"Great. Just great. By the way, can you put me down?"

"Sorry," Max said blushing. 'She is so light, I forgot I was holding her,' he thought. Max put down Joy and they continued through a dark passageway.

After a while they came up to a door. Joy, because of the good manners her mother had taught her, raised her hand to knock. Max immediately slapped Joy's hand.

"Are you okay?" asked Max looking kind of guilty.

"You really didn't have to hit me, you could have just told me."

"You are right, sorry."

"That's okay, I know you really didn't mean it," Joy said comfortingly.

There was a little hole in the door and Max peeked in.

"It's them," Max whispered.

"Are you sure?" Joy asked. Max nodded.

"Whisper in softly and get their attention!" Max directed.

"Mom, Paul, can you hear me? I came with my friend, Max, to save you."

"I can, dear. Is that really you?" said Joy's mother. Max pulled a lock pick out of his jacket and used it on the door.

"Come on out!" Max told the occupants of the jail cell.

"We are bound," said Paul. Max quickly cut them loose with his pocket knife, and together they ran through the dark corridor and finally came to the exit. Luckily, the exit was not guarded; although this fact seemed very strange.

Suddenly, a guard burst into the room. Max quickly and skillfully tripped the guard, who fell on the secret door opener. The exit door flew open, and everyone expected Seth to come charging in, but the cost was clear.

"Jump everybody!" ordered Max. The people obeyed. The ground was only a few feet away, so everyone made it safely. All of them knew what they had to do and they all ran. Bullets exploded around them.

"We can do this!" Joy shouted. Once they were safe, Max stopped them.

"Let's rest here," said Max.

"Thanks so much for saving us man," Paul said slapping Max on the back. Joy knew they were going to be great friends.

In the morning Joy woke up and found Max cooking breakfast over a fire he had made.

"Max, what are you making?" Joy asked.

"I always have food everywhere I go. So I am making..."

"Wait let me guess," Joy said. She sniffed the air and knew immediately. "Bacon and fresh bread and for desert little cakes."

"Good job," he said. "You had better wake up your family so we can eat. I for one am hungry." Joy woke up Paul and Paul woke up her mother.

When everyone was up then Max started giving out food and everyone ate heartily. After they were finished they set out again, this time to Joy's house.

When they came to Max's woods, Max stood alone Joy.

"Max, can you come live with us?" Joy blurted out.

"I was thinking the same thing." he answered. "Also, I have to tell you something. I am part...alien."

"What?" Joy asked. "Are you going to betray me to the aliens and watch them suck my brains out?"

"No; I am a good alien. That is why I could carry you even when I was just shot. I have super strength. Do you still want me to come to your house to live?"

Joy looked away and thought: Should I believe him? He did save me and is very nice to me but...I just do not know.

Joy looked back to Max and saw tears welling up in his eyes. He started walking away to his house and he closed the door.

Joy tried to call him back but he did not open the door. Joy started crying, but knew it would be no use.

She started walking back home with her family. They were together again. Somewhat.

When they reach Joy's house they all decide that they will go to sleep early.

In the morning a familiar sent reached Joy's nose. She sat bolt upright in her bed. She knew that smell. Max's bacon and fresh bread!

"Max!" Joy yelled, and ran into the kitchen. She flung her arms around Max. Deep down she knew that Max would never leave her. And he never did.