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Race You and Other Stories for Young Readers

  Race You

  and other stories for young readers

  Sally Gould

  Copyright © 2014 Sally Gould

  All rights reserved.

  Editing by Brooke Clark, Spring Agency

  Cover Design by www.ebooklaunch.com

  Table of Contents

  Race You






  The Pretender







  Fitness Fanatics






  Other books by Sally Gould:


  Race You


  Joel and I sat on the floor watching our favorite cartoon. The White Knight and his Super Space Soldiers regrouped and launched another attack. The Dark Prince and his Evil Space Warriors were forced to retreat.

  "Travis, Joel!" Mom called out. "Come and get your breakfast."

  I jumped up and turned to Joel. "Race you!"

  He took off and we landed in our chairs at the same time. Joel looked at his cereal. I looked at mine. "Race you," he whispered.

  We demolished our breakfast before Mom had poured her coffee "Beat you," he said as I took my last mouthful. Joel always won the eating races, even though he was younger than me and he had a smaller mouth.

  Mom looked from Joel to me and shook her head.

  "Race you," Joel said to me.

  We rushed to the bathroom, cleaned our teeth and ran to our bedroom. I got out my White Knight T-shirt and Joel got out his Dark Prince T-shirt. We put on our clothes, scrambled through the back door and ran outside.

  I climbed up onto the trampoline first. "Beat you," I said as Joel climbed up.

  Mom opened the back door. "I need to wash those T-shirts. You can't wear them every day."

  "One jump first," I said as I began to jump up and down.

  Mom shook her head and went back inside.

  Joel said, "Bet I can jump higher."

  We laughed as we took turns jumping. We went higher and higher. I could see kids in the park next door. As I went up again I turned my head to see if I could see anyone on the oval. Next time, I turned right around to look. The leaves of the maple tree brushed the top of my head. Then I realized I'd jumped right off the trampoline. I screamed as I hit the hard ground.


  The doctor shoved his hands in the pockets of his white coat and peered over his glasses. "It's a clean break, so it should heal well."

  "That's good," said Dad, frowning.

  I swung my good leg back and forth. "How long before the plaster comes off? Two weeks?"

  The doctor laughed. "More like eight."

  "What?!" I shouted. "What about the athletics carnival?"

  The doctor put his wrinkly hand on my shoulder. "Sorry, but the bone must mend properly."

  Mom and Dad nodded in agreement. Joel stood against the wall looking lost. I glared at the fresh plaster. I could picture Michael Bell winning the running race. The race I'd won last year.

  Slowly, I left the hospital on my crutches. When we reached the car park Joel whispered to me, "Race you to the car."

  I looked away. The next eight weeks would be the worst ever. I had to stop to wipe my eyes.


  The next day I laid my leg across the sofa. "I can't run. I can't play soccer," I complained to Mom. I threw a cushion at the plaster. "And if Joel says 'race you' one more time ..."

  "The next few days will be the worst, but you'll get used to it," said Mom as she drew open the curtains in the lounge room.

  She came over and sat next to me. "Look on the bright side," she said, pushing the hair out of my eyes. "You don't have to make your bed. You don't have to take out the recycling. You don't have to unpack the dishwasher."

  "I need pocket money if I'm going to buy the White Knight. Joel will get the Dark Prince and I won't have anything."

  "You'll still get your pocket money," she said. "Just try to do the best you can."


  I sat at the dining table drawing pictures of the White Knight and his Super Space Soldiers. Every afternoon after school for the last week I'd drawn the characters from Galactic Wars and they were looking almost real. Joel was drawing pictures of the Dark Prince and the Evil Space Warriors. After a while I pushed my drawing away. "I'm sick of drawing."

  "Two more weeks and we'll have enough money to buy the Dark Prince and the White Knight," said Joel. "Then we can battle."

  Mom came over and admired our drawings. "We need milk. Could you two go to the shop and get some?"

  "Me?" I asked.

  "You're good on your crutches now. Joel will walk slowly."

  Once we were out the front door, I said to Joel, "You give me a halfway head start and I'll race you to the shop."

  He grinned. "Hurry up then."

  I took off. In the last few days I'd got the hang of going flat out on my crutches. Joel hadn't seen how fast I could go. The shop was at the end of our street. Once I reached the fifth house, Joel started but he couldn't catch up. I stood next to the door of the shop as he ran up to me, panting. "What took you?" I asked.


  For the next two weeks, I raced everywhere I went. At school I raced up and down the side of the oval, getting the soccer ball for my friends when it went out. Soon everyone in school was talking about how fast I was on my crutches.

  Then the day of the athletics carnival arrived. It was sunny, not pouring rain as I'd hoped. I watched from a bench near the oval as all the other kids ran, jumped and went in the novelty races. Everyone was having fun, except me. Then I saw Michael Bell line up, ready for his running race. The race I wanted to win.

  I could have gone to my school bag to get the chocolate cake from my lunch box, so that I wouldn't have to watch the race. But for some reason I didn't move. I had to watch. Just in case the unthinkable happened and someone else beat Michael.

  The sports teacher blew his whistle and the kids took off. But the unthinkable didn't happen. Michael won easily. I promised myself I'd win next year.


  That afternoon Mom didn't want me watching TV, so she took me to the oval to watch my friends play soccer. They were playing up one end because a film crew had taken over the other end. There was a cameraman, a woman with a huge microphone and a bunch of other people standing around.

  "They seem to be filming a TV commercial," said Mom, who was sitting on a park bench.

  I raced up and down the edge of the oval following the game. "Great pass," I yelled. I couldn't wait until I was back playing; four weeks to go.

  A man dressed in black came over to me. "You're sure fast on those crutches."

  I grinned. "I've had lots of practice."

  The man pointed to my White Knight T-shirt. "And you're a fan of Galactic Wars?"

  "You bet!"

  The man reached into his jacket, pulled out a business card and handed it to me. "Could you get your mom or dad to call me? I've got an idea for the next Galactic Wars commercial, but I'll need your help."

  I stared at him. "You're kidding."

  The man laughed and then Mom came over. They introduced themselves and the man told her about his idea for a TV commercial.

  I lo
oked at the business card that the man in black had given me.

  Pierre le Count

  Executive Director

  Universal Advertising


  The breeze blew my hair. I looked around the green fields. Besides a few horses in the distance, there was no one on my side of the camera. There was a bunch of people behind the cameraman. Pierre, dressed in black, was yelling instructions. There was also his assistant, the makeup artist, a sound assistant and a few other people who didn't seem to be doing anything. Mom and Joel were leaning against the car, watching.

  Pierre called out, "Ready, Travis?"

  I nodded. My heart thumped. This would be the third take. I had to get it right this time. Why couldn't I go faster?


  I took off as fast as I could on my crutches along the side of the road. The small rocks on the dirt made it hard work. My hands felt sweaty on the crutches.

  "Cut," yelled Pierre. "Travis," he said, walking over to me. "When I saw you that day at the park, you made going fast look easy. Is something wrong?"

  I couldn't answer. I felt bad. Being asked to do this commercial had been too good to be true. And now I was messing it up.

  Mom joined us. "I've got an idea," she said to Pierre.

  A few minutes later, I was back in my starting position. Joel was behind the cameraman, ready to race. I could see the sparkle in Joel's eye as he called out, "Race you!"

  "Action!" yelled Pierre.

  We took off. I kept my eyes on the Dark Prince on the back of Joel's T-shirt as I tried my hardest to keep up. I forgot about the rocks and went flat out.

  "Cut." Pierre punched the air. "Fantastic!"


  Two weeks later, my plaster was off. I ran to the front door when I heard the doorbell ring. There lay a huge parcel. Joel and I ripped it open. I pulled aside the bubble wrap and took out a packet of Super Space Soldiers. "Wow!"

  "Cool!" Joel grabbed the box holding the Dark Prince.

  I took out a DVD and gave it to Mom.

  "Let's put it on," she said. "I can't wait to see this."

  Joel dug into the box. "Wait until I get the Evil Space Warriors."

  Mom put on the DVD.

  A picture of a faraway planet appeared. A deep voice said, Will the White Knight and his Super Space Soldiers win this Galactic War? Or will it be the Dark Prince and his Evil Space Warriors? You decide! On the screen a group of white spaceships landed on the planet. As soon as the White Knight and his soldiers got out, they came under fire. Behind the rocks the Dark Prince and his warriors shot laser guns. The White Knight and his soldiers hid and fought back. The deep voice said, The Dark Prince's Evil Space Warriors and the White Knight's Super Space Soldiers are now available in toy stores. Kids will go to any lengths to get them. Then I appeared, racing along on my crutches next to a field, a beach, then into town and into a toy store. With a big grin, I picked up a plastic box of Super Space Soldiers and held it up triumphantly.

  "That was great." Mom gave me a hug.

  "Come on," said Joel. "Let's play with them on the tramp."

  I jumped up off the sofa and yelled, "Race you!"

  The Pretender


  Sam gripped his shield and raised his sword. Turning to the line of teddy bears sitting on the sofa, he cried out, "To battle!"

  With great courage, he fought one enemy knight after another. Even when he was wounded, he fought on. Finally the enemy retreated into the forest. Sam took off his armor, knowing that because of him the castle was safe for another day.

  His older sister, Kate, glanced up from watching TV. "You're an embarrassment," she said. "Pretending is for kinder kids."

  He didn't reply. What would she know? He looked at the people she was watching on TV. They were pretending.


  That night, Sam lay in bed looking at his book, The Age of Knights and Castles. There were pictures of knights in armor. If he were a knight, he'd have a horse called Prince. He'd ride all over the country protecting the Lord and his subjects. Sam would practice sword-fighting every day.

  Samurai used swords and wore armor too, thought Sam. If he were a samurai, he'd get to practice martial arts as well. Sam imagined how high and fast he could kick if he practiced every day.

  A loud crash sounded outside; he froze and listened. There was another crashing noise. It sounded like it came from the garage. Sam jumped out of bed, went to his wardrobe, got out his karate uniform and put it on over his pajamas. He ignored the green belt with two brown stripes strung over the hanger. Instead he found his Dad's old black belt and tied it around his waist. He folded a red scarf and tied it around his forehead before glancing in the mirror. He was ready to take on anyone. Another crash came from outside as Sam pulled out a plastic samurai sword from the toy box. He rushed out to the back door.

  Kate was already peering outside through the crack in the curtains. "It's too dark," she said, "I can't see a thing." She turned to Sam. "You stay here and I'll get Dad."

  He didn't reply, but when she had gone he slipped out the back door. His heart pounded and his hands felt sweaty against the handle of the sword. Noiselessly he crept toward the side door of the garage with the sword raised. In one swift movement he opened the door and flicked on the light switch. He scanned the garage. No one. Sam tiptoed around to the other side of the car. No one. Then in the corner, where Dad stored his junk, Sam saw a possum perched on an upturned chair. It sat motionless staring back at him with huge black eyes. Its pink tail was curled at the end. Sam heard footsteps behind him. He spun around and with his sword raised. "Oh, Dad!" Sam lowered the sword. "It's only a possum."

  "Great," said Dad, "just what we need."

  Sam couldn't hide his disappointment. "I wanted to fight the bad guy."

  Dad slung his arm around Sam's shoulder and led him back to the house. "Never mind."

  Kate stood at the back door looking half concerned, half cross. "You're so stupid."

  Sam laughed. "Were you worried about me?"

  She glared at him before heading to her bedroom.

  Dad challenged Sam to a sword fight. "As long as we can be knights; I don't want to be beheaded again," he added.

  Sam threw him a knight's sword from the toy box. He put on his knight's armor, swapped swords and declared, "To the death!" They battled fiercely before Sam flicked the sword out of his Dad's hand and with a loud cry pointed his own sword at Dad's heart.


  At school the next day, Sam played Samurai versus Ninjas with his friends. Sam was a ninja. He had to sneak up and grab the arms of a samurai while the samurai guarded the fort. Sam crouched behind a bush. Nearby there was a samurai with his back to Sam. No one was looking in Sam's direction. He leapt up and lunged toward the samurai.

  "Ninja behind you," a voice called out.

  The samurai spun around and took up a fighting position.

  Sam jumped up and kicked out into the air. It was too late. He'd missed his chance. He retreated to the monkey bars.

  Several minutes later, Sam lay hiding along the limb of a tree. None of the samurai had spotted him. Mrs. Dench, the drama teacher, had been watching him, but now she was over near the monkey bars. With patience he waited until a samurai went underneath the tree. Sam crouched on the limb and pounced. He hit someone and heard a scream. It was a woman's scream. OH, NO!

  Sam picked himself up off the ground and held his breath as he looked over to see Mrs. Cross sitting in the tanbark with her skirt above her knees. She glared up at him.

  "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Cross," he said as fast as he could. "It was an accident." He held out his hand to help her up. By this time a crowd of kids had gathered around them. Mrs. Cross let him help her up. She brushed the tanbark off her skirt before she said, "Samuel McIntosh, what on earth were you doing?"

  "I jumped so I could get down quicker," he said as the bell rang to tell everyone that lunch
was over. "I didn't want to be late. I've got gym next."

  The other kids ran off to their classrooms. Sam looked up and noticed Kate smirking at him from a distance. Mrs. Cross was her teacher. He didn't care; Kate wouldn't tell Mom or Dad. Sam hadn't told them when she had been sent to the library for the whole of recess for answering back to Mrs. Cross.

  "Well, young man," said Mrs. Cross, looking cross, "you're lucky you didn't break my back. Come with me. I'm going to report this to your teacher."


  Sam sat alone staring at the rows and rows of books in the library. He had finished writing his apology to Mrs. Cross, but he wasn't allowed to leave the library until the rest of the class returned from gym. They had all missed out on last week's gym lesson because it was raining. Tears welled in his eyes; this was the worst day of his life. His teacher, Mr. Connor, had been mad. He'd banned them from playing Samurai versus Ninjas and Sam's friends would blame him. He tried to be brave by pretending he was a samurai. But it wasn't fair; it had been an accident!

  Mr. Connor had said that his apology must be sincere. But it wasn't easy writing an apology for an accident. He read his apology for the third time.

  Dear Mrs. Cross

  I'm so sorry for hurting you. I would be scared if someone jumped on to my back. I hope you are okay. I'll be more careful from now on.

  Sam McIntosh

  He couldn't make it better.


  Sam handed his apology to Mrs. Cross and stared at her whiteboard.

  She put on her glasses and read it. "That's good, Sam," she said. "You write well. You must take after your sister."

  No, thought Sam, she takes after me. "Will you tell Mr. Connor that?"

  "Yes," Mrs. Cross replied. "And next time look before you jump out of a tree."


  Sam ate his spaghetti bolognese in silence that night. Mr. Connor had sent a note to his parents telling them how Sam had hit Mrs. Cross when he jumped out of a tree. Sam had told them it was an accident. Mom had believed him. Dad had given him one of his I'm disappointed in you looks. Sam laid his fork next to his spaghetti; he wasn't hungry.

  "Guess what?" asked Kate, looking happy with herself. "I've been chosen to be Mary of Moreland, in the school play."

  "Terrific," said Dad, giving her shoulder a squeeze. "What's it called?"

  "The Silver Knights."

  "That's great," said Mom. "What's it about?"

  Kate told them that it was about two rival groups of knights. She was to be married to the Lord, whose castle was protected by the silver knights. They had magic swords that gave them magical strength and courage. The magic of the sword died if its owner died. The black knights made the silver knight's cook give them a sleeping potion so the black knights could steal their swords. Then the black knights kidnapped her and held her prisoner.

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