Camping Out of Time

story & illustration © 2003 Bruce Van Patter

his is the life, thought Josh. He zipped up his sleeping bag and opened his back pack.
Moonlight spilled in through the tent screen door. Windows in his nearby house glowed warm yellow. Crickets chirped. Josh pulled a comic book out of his pack and clicked on a flashlight. Taking a long sip from his soda, the boy settled in with a happy sigh.

He had before him the very latest comic of Dirk the Dark.

Josh studied the large face on the cover. Under a pointed hat, dark eyes hid in shadow. Dirk's long nose and forked, white beard almost seemed to poke out of the picture, they were so real. Josh nodded, thinking that this is how an evil wizard should look! But as he slowly opened the comic, the boy didn't notice the evil face begin to grin.

He began to read. The boy lay in his tent reading a comic. What did that say? He read it again, and noticed that the drawing was of him, in his tent, reading this comic. He started to get a little nervous. He read on. And now the boy began to get scared. The picture showed a talk, dark man standing over the sleeping bag. Josh looked up, his heart thumping.

Dirk the Dark stood over him with black, shining eyes. "At last, Prince, I have found you," he said. "It is time for you to defeat my enemy."

Josh didn't have time to scream, or to argue that he wasn't any prince. He only had a second to glance down to see on the next page a drawing of a prince pointing a sword at a huge, angry giant. Then Josh, Dirk and the whole tent was sucked down into the comic book.

Here we go! - That is one story that's crying out for another page!

Can you write what happens next? Will Josh have to fight the giant? How can he get Dirk the Dark to bring him back? What could you put into Josh's pack that might help him? And... would you say that Josh is really into comic books?

Have fun -- finish the story -- and be creative! If you want to, email me your ending!