Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NFL or NHL...Super King of Parity

   This weekend has a great deal of importance for me. My two favorite sports are being showcased. The Detroit Red Wings play the St. Louis Blues at home this's the first time I recall them being in Detroit for my birthday in nearly twenty years and since the lockout cancelled the Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium this game will have to suffice for now (especially since the Blues embarrassed the Wings opening night). And the other event...Ah yes, Super Sunday (since the entire world is legally bound to not mention its true name without paying a certain copyright infringement)!
  This had me decorating my office the other day. The back wall is covered in Red Wing memorabilia from, championship plaques, to jersey's and even figures...and yes I have a Pavel Datsyuk one!  Another wall however, I have displayed the pocket helmet collection of the NFL, and yes they are updated to include the changes made in the past few seasons. When I put the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers together, I realized that we as fans are witnessing something rarely seen in the National Football League or sports in general. I am actually not referring to the Harbaugh brothers, but a simpler less discussed topic recently...Parity!
  It is something that all major sports leagues have attempted to achieve over the past few decades, but it seems to becoming much more prevalent in two leagues; the National Football League and National Hockey League. As I mentioned before these are my two favorite sports and probably account for 90% of my television watching experience, so this weekend would have had much graver implications had the NHL lockout not ended before the big game Sunday. I can't bring myself to watch that bouncing orange ball, plus the Pistons make the Lions look competent right now.
   The topic of parity brings about a controversial debate. I however, love the fact that my favorite sports team of all, the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, have been a perennial cup contender for the majority of my life, but I know that they are despised by many through hockey circles for the same reason. Parity will mean that the Red Wings will eventually fall to the bottom of the league. The same could be said for a team that many fans cheered in defeat two weeks ago...the New England Patriots. I am also a Patriots fan...for two reasons; the Detroit Lions have been irrelevant for too long, and Tom Brady went to Michigan, therefore I wasn't thrilled to see the Ravens win, but it allowed a unique scenario to unfold which brought about this topic. So the question arises, which league is the Super King of Parity?

Since the NHL's lockout of 2006 here are how the two league compare:

    First, how many teams have missed the playoffs every season since 2006?  It should be stated that I am well aware that the NHL allows 16 playoff teams and the NFL only 12! In the NFL, four teams have not made the playoffs in this time frame. The Buffalo Bills, Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns and St. Louis Rams (thank you Lions 2011!). In the NHL, Only the Toronto Maple Leafs have yet to make the playoffs since 2006.
    That means that almost 88% of the NFL versus almost 97% of the NHL have made the postseason...advantage NHL, however the Red Wings have made 21 straight appearances, which is impossible in the NFL (see New England Patriots 2007 and San Francisco 49ers 1991, each of which won 10+ games and missed the post season when teams from the AFC had worse records and got to play playoff games) advantage NONE!
   Second, how many teams have played in Conference Championships since 2006? In the NFL, six teams in the AFC (Jets, Ravens, Steelers, Colts, Patriots & Chargers) and nine teams in the NFC (49ers, Falcons, Giants, Bears, Viking, Packers, Cardinals, Eagles & Saints). In the NHL, nine teams in the Western Conference (Red Wings, Kings, Coyotes, Canucks, Sharks, Blackhawks, Ducks, Oilers & Stars) and ten teams in the Eastern Conference (Rangers, Devils, Bruins, Lightning, Hurricanes, Flyers, Penguins, Senators, Sabres & Canadiens)
    That means that 46% of the NFL versus 63% of the NHL have played deep into playoff action...advantage NHL
   Third, how many teams have played in their championship game since 2006? In the NFL, ten teams on Super Sunday. In the NHL, twelve teams have had a chance at raising lord Stanley's Cup.   
   That is pretty close, but 31% of the NFL versus 40% of the NHL...advantage NHL  
 Fourth, how many different champions have been crowned in each league?  In the NFL, this Sunday's winner between Baltimore and San Francisco will be the 6th champion in seven seasons. It also is worth noting that seven of the eight divisions have been represented including all four in the NFC in the last four seasons!  In the NHL, seven different champions have been crowned. That's right a new champion has emerged each season including 2009 when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings had a rematch...I still cry myself to sleep over that game seven loss. All six divisions have been represented in the Stanley Cup Finals.
   ...advantage NHL
  Finally, the most important event in any season is the game that decides the champion. This weekends match-up between the Ravens and 49ers should be close and if it is that would mean that every Super Sunday tilt has been close in the 4th quarter since 2006. In fact there hasn't been a blowout since the Raiders were destroyed by 'Chucky' and the Buccaneers at the end of the 2002 season. (also the last time the Raiders played a post season game...i hate the Raiders!").  I may be bias, but three of the greatest finishes the NFL have occurred since 2006; Giants (2011 & 2007) and Steelers (2009), ironically i was routing for the other team in each game!  Here is where things get interesting. In the NHL, the overall league seems to have parity on lock down over the NFL, yet in the finals it hasn't been as contentious as Super Sunday. It may have to do with the best of seven format. Even though, three of the seven years the cup was clinched in a game seven, we will just look at the clinching game for each year to make it more comparable to the ultimate football game each season. The Kings (2012), Bruins (2011), Duck (2007) & Hurricanes (2006) all won games in relative ease to clinch their championships. Even the Blackhawks (2010) won in what was the most anticlimactic finish of any sporting event I have ever witnessed as it took nearly five minutes to declare the series clinching goal in overtime. Ironically, only the two Red Wings series versus the Penguins had stellar finishes with flurries of action right until the final buzzer.
   ...advantage NFL
  Don't get me wrong, I love both leagues, and the NFL may be king of media, television, beer advertisements and cheerleaders (though the ice girls in Carolina are amazing), but the National Hockey League may have cornered the market on league parity, now they just have to live up to the big dog in the final show...another grand finish in this weekends clash and the NFL may just claim this crown as well, but for now the NHL is the king of parity.

Find More Writings From Author Christopher M. Purrett

Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Chapter 3

  The school day was almost over. I had made it through my math, science and French tests without any major disasters. It was the last hour, and we were being released to the football field for our year-ending assembly.
Every year before summer our Principal, Mr. Deters, would talk to us about responsibility and safety. Nobody ever paid any attention.
  I walked out through the gym doors and followed the other kids to the football bleachers. Sitting at the top was Whizzy. He waved at me.
The gray clouds had moved on and now it was very sunny and quite hot.
  I noticed that Whizzy was standing when I reached the top of the bleachers.
  “Hey, Phillip, watch this.” He pointed at a couple of 6th grade boys. As they started to sit, Whizzy let out a strange giggle. He grabbed my arm in anticipation. The boys lowered their butts and sat on the metal seats. They burst back up like being ejected from a toaster and grabbed their backsides. Whizzy exploded into laughter. “Did you see that?”
  “Whizzy” I scolded.
  “Come on, Phillip. That’s funny. They burned their butts.”
  I just shook my head, and then proceeded to sit down and burn my butt.
Whizzy laughed even harder. I think he may have actually cried, but he hid his face.
  Principal Deters began his speech, “Students. Thank you!” No one was clapping. “We have had another wonderful year here at Greenville Middle School. I want to congratulate this year’s 8th grade class. You will be moving on to our high school next year…” he continued to assault us with his speech for the next forty-five minutes. His bald- head reflected so much sunlight that it appeared that his body was a candle and his head a flame. I watched in amazement thinking he was going to have the worst sunburn tomorrow. Whizzy would probably find that hysterical. I found it quite sad. Boredom reigned, and I watched the different groups of students…all not paying any attention to Principal Deters either. Two boys in the corner of the bleachers were slapping each other’s hands in some random punishment game. The same group of 6th grade girls was texting on their cell phones and snickering. They were most definitely making fun of Principal Deters. I continued to keep myself occupied watching the other students when I noticed something strange.
  “Whizzy, look. Isn’t that Billy Lawton with Rachel?” I pointed directly below us about twenty rows.
  “What the heck? No way!” You could tell by the expression on Whizzy’s face that he wasn’t happy. He never got along with his sister, but having our biggest enemy becoming friends with Rachel wouldn’t be in Whizzy’s best interest. Or mine for that matter.
  Billy made some peculiar gesture with his face, I assumed he was mocking Principal Deters, but I couldn’t see Deters’s face from all the sunlight beaming off his head. Rachel laughed. Way too hard I might add. Billy wasn’t funny…believe me. Mean…yes. Funny…not at all.
  Whizzy stood beside me stewing in anger. I swore his reddish hair had turned a little brighter. He gritted his teeth and clenched his fist.
  “Calm down, Whizzy. There has to be an explanation.”
  “Billy Lawton…and my sister!”
  He never really finished his thought aloud, but I figured it had something to do with inflicting pain and a lot of bad words.
  Fortunately, Principal Deters had apparently finished his speech and announced that summer had started, because the student body erupted and everyone had leapt off the bleachers so quickly you could feel them sway forward.
  Whizzy and I went back into the building to clean out our lockers and get our backpacks. The hallways were covered in papers that kids had tossed onto the floor. It had become something of a tradition at Greenville Middle School, but I wasn’t quite sure why. Janitor Findley swept the papers into a pile as we went past. He gave a crooked smile. “Good summer boys.”
  We said thank you and walked out to where our moms would be picking us up.
  Standing in front of the school, Whizzy and I planned our first day of summer vacation…baseball, bike riding and swimming!
  “Hey, Wasn’t!” a cruel voice blast. Then Whizzy shot forward and stumbled to keep his balance. It was Billy Lawton. He had pushed Whizzy from behind, but Whizzy quickly regained his balance. I, however, would have hit the pavement for sure.
  Billy was quite large…not tall, but thick. His was between Whizzy and I in height, but probably weighted as much as us combined. His arms were so big that they stretched his sleeves. The girls at Greenville Middle School fawned over him…apparently including Rachel who was draped around one of Billy’s large arms. It looked like she was hugging a tree branch.
  “That’s not his name, Billy” I responded. I could immediately tell that Whizzy wished I hadn’t.
  “He knows that, Phillip. Billy just isn’t smart enough to pro-nounce it pro-per-ly.” He over-enunciated.
  Billy wasn’t stupid, though we wished he were. The vein in Billy’s neck pushed outward and his nose shrugged. I was well aware of what that meant. Whizzy had the unfortunate ability of pressing Billy’s button’s, which I still am not completely sure why he would want to…but Whizzy did it anyway.
Billy lunged at Whizzy and snatched him up in the air by his shirt. “Listen here, Wasn’t! You keep that up and it’s gonna be a long summer for you. We’re gonna be seein’ a lot of each other.” He tossed Whizzy into me and we fell to the ground. “I’ll see ya’ round, Wasn’t”
  Then Billy did something I wished I had never seen. He kissed Rachel…ON THE LIPS! I almost vomited.
  “Rachel!” Whizzy yelled. He struggled back to his feet. “Rachel, you cannot be serious? Billy. Billy Lawton?”
  The Whizzenmog twins continued to argue until their mom picked them up.
  “There’s mom!” Whizzy bolted for the car, nearly getting run over.
  I could faintly overhear Whizzy animatedly describing the kiss.
  “Mom, he’s lying!” Rachel yelled back as she entered the car.
  I stood on the sidewalk and watched as the Whizzenmog family car drove away with them arguing inside.
  “Bye, Whizzy.” I said out loud. Standing next to me was a small girl. She gave me a sad look as if she felt sorry for me. “That’s my best friend. He had to go.”
  I normally felt uncomfortable. I was used to that, but I wished the earth would open up and swallow me whole right about now. Then the bottom of my backpack broke open and spilled onto the ground. “Great day!”

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Copyright Held by: Christopher M. Purrett

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Chapter 4

  The only day that tops the last day of school is the first day of summer. I was so excited when I awoke that I nearly bolted downstairs without changing clothes. I rummaged around my room looking for my favorite green t-shirt with a frog face on it. Then I pulled up my orange, brown and white checker-plaid shorts and began to move toward the door again, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed something move under the pile of clothes in my open closet.
  My mom consistently hounded me about my closet. You see I used it more as a laundry hamper than a closet. There was only one shirt hung up. It was a bright yellow perfectly brand-spanking new shirt with stars and a rainbow on it that my parents had purchased at some cheap store in the Greenville Mall. I never wore it all school year. Beside it were a dozen empty hangers.
  My eyes caught movement in the pile to the left again. My heart skipped a beat. What is that? I thought. It seemed really large. I hoped it was too large to be a spider. A chill shivered up my spine at the thought of a big, ugly, hairy spider with beady red eyes focusing on me. I looked around the room for something to move the clothes from a distance. A baseball bat would work…maybe a hockey stick.
  In the far corner of the room between the window and my bed sat the large glass case for my pet frog, Sampson. The lid was ajar just enough for the slippery guy to escape.
  “Sampson.” I said with a sigh of relief. Reaching into the closet I moved the pile to find my plump brownish-green frog. He leapt into my hands. Ironically, he did have red beady eyes. “Hey, buddy. What you doing out of your case? You need to be careful. I could have squashed you with a baseball bat.” I petted him as I placed him back into the glass case and closed the lid.
Then I dashed downstairs.
  Our home was pretty modest. Two bedrooms upstairs: mine and my parents. On the ground floor, a living room, small den, bathroom and the kitchen. Our kitchen was pretty small. The dining table took up much of the room, and it wasn’t that large. It only seated four.
  While I ate breakfast, my parents gave me a present.
  “Here you go, Phillip. We are so proud of you!” My mom beamed. “I can’t believe you are going into high school already. Then she wrapped her arms around me causing me to spill milk and cereal onto the table. Worse yet… she started to cry.
  “Mom.” I struggled to free myself. “Mom. It’s not like I’m leaving.”
  “Alright, honey.” My father interjected. “Leave the poor kid alone.” My father always seemed to understand when my mom was being too…mom-like I guess is the best way to describe it. He just smiled at me and went back to work on his laptop computer. He wasn’t home very much. He worked long hours in an office outside Greenville. I usually only saw him on the weekends.
  “So.” My mom exhaled deeply as she tried to compose herself. “Open your gift, Phillip.” She was excited. My father even stopped typing on his computer to watch.
  The box was rectangular in shape and wrapped in a purple paper. My mom had long thought that purple was my favorite color…it’s blue. I think she might be color blind, because when she gave me the yellow shirt up in my closet last summer I recall her claiming it was white.
  I began to pull back the wrapping paper and notice it was a shoebox. I started to get excited. I had been asking for new shoes for nearly the entire school year. The ones I had now were so tight that my toes were nearly permanently curled up from getting crammed into them everyday. I started to open the box with enthusiasm. Inside was a pair of dark blue sketchers.
  “Oh, wow!” I jumped from my seat. “Thank you, Mom!” I gave her the biggest hug. Then ran to my father on the other side of the table. “Thanks,” I said. He gave me a one-armed hug with a slight pat on the back. That was pretty good for him. My father wasn’t the most affectionate man.
My father quickly changed the subject. “So what are your big plans for the first day of summer?”
  “Whizzy and I are gonna play baseball, ride bikes and maybe go swimming.” A rush of excitement came over me as I again realized that it was summer vacation.
  While I changed into my new dark blue sketchers, my dad looked outside.
  “It’s not looking very good to the west. We’re going to get some rain, Phillip.”
  I had a sinking feeling like letting the air out of a balloon. Leaning back in the chair I gave a sigh. “Well. I guess we can play some video games.”
  “I’ll give you a ride, Phillip,” My mom added.
  I slid into the backseat of our dirty black car and buckled up. The engine roared and we started off.
  Whizzy lived a couple blocks from me. My mom turned left onto Orange Avenue and headed up the road. I sat impatiently. The rain clouds moved in quickly. We hadn’t even reached Scarlet Lane, the next block up, when the rain began to pelt our car. By the time we reached the next block, Golden Lane, it was all out pouring.
  I watched the rain as it ran down the window. It split into two separate streams about halfway down. In the distance, outside the window was Umber Forest. As we approached Burgundy Drive, where Whizzy lived, something emerged from the treetops. It was huge. I couldn’t tell what it was, but it seemed to be following us.
  “That can’t be,” I said aloud.
  “What was that, Phillip?”
  “Oh. Nothing, Mom.” I didn’t want her to think I was crazy. Looking out the window and through the rain I wasn’t able to locate the flying object in the treetops again.
  We turned right onto Burgundy Drive and headed to the Whizzenmog’s. This was the place where the wealthy families of Greenville lived. The homes were all recently built and beautiful. I’ll admit I dreamed of living in one of these houses. They were three times the size of ours, but still didn’t compare to Whizzy’s.
  At the end of Burgundy Drive was the oldest house in Greenville. Whizzy told me that the house was older than Umber Forest. I am not sure if I believe him though. It was certainly old, and monstrous. I actually mean that it looks like a monster. When you drive up to it at night and the lights are on upstairs the house appears like it has two large eyes staring you down while you approach. It’s was very unsettling the first time I came over. I wouldn’t even spend the night until we were in 6th grade.  They had a half circle driveway at the end of Burgundy Drive.
  When we got to the front doors it was raining so hard I struggled to open the car door against the wind.
  “Have a good time, Phillip. Call me when you’re ready to come home.”
  “Thanks, Mom!” I yelled as I dashed away. I am not sure if I would have been drier had I walked, but I certainly splashed enough water onto myself that I definitely wouldn’t have been any wetter.
  A large wooden canopy hung over the front doors. Two heavy wooden doors like you might see on a castle from the middle ages, with a large circular metal handle on each stood before me. I grabbed the handle on the right and banged it against the door. It was heavy. The house spanned out a great distance on either side from where I stood. I could barely make out the edges of the house against the rain.
  Finally, the door creaked and then opened. My heart was already beating quickly due to my anticipation, but when the door opened and Rachel Whizzenmog was standing there, I almost fainted. She was glowing. Her hair pulled back in a ponytail showed her graceful neck.
  Rachel was obviously not thrilled to see me. “Whizzy!” she yelled up the staircase directly behind her.  Well not directly behind her…it was about ten feet behind her. “Whizzy, Phillip is here!” She yelled again. “Are you coming in or not?” She snapped and then walked away from the door.
I was mesmerized. Move! Step inside! I yelled at myself. My legs just wouldn’t work.
 Whizzy came bounding down the stairs skipping three at a time. “Phillip, get in here.” He wasn’t the most patient person. It must run in the family. “You are soaking wet.” He exclaimed.
  “Yeah! I didn’t bring an umbrella.”
  Whizzy just laughed. “Cool shoes.”
  We had to change our plans because of the rain, but Whizzy didn’t mind. He loved video games particularly a game called “Wizards and Sorcerers.” We played…correction, he played and I sat and watched after he destroyed my wizard five minutes after we started. Whizzy continued on against beasts, demons and sorcerers for nearly two hours before ending in a fiery blaze of glory. He threw the controller to the ground and yelled, “Darn it! I can never get past this part.”
  I just shrugged my shoulders, because I hadn’t ever made it past the first battle.
  Whizzy’s room was huge. It was bigger than my living room at home. He had posters hung covering nearly every last inch of the walls. I don’t think his bed would even fit in my entire room. That is why we always played at his house…, which I didn’t mind because he had the most awesome basement on the planet.
  “What now?” Whizzy said with anger still in his voice. He picked up a red rubber ball and tossed it against a “Transformers” poster. It sped back to him, but he caught it easily. He continued to bounce it directly off “Megatron’s” head while we talked.
  I really wanted to play baseball. I had been waiting all school year for summer…mainly for that reason. From Whizzy’s bedroom window I could see the Umber Forest. Remembering the image in the treetops, I began searching to find any motion. A black winged silhouette raced past the window. I jumped backward and tripped over a chair falling down on my butt. My chest felt like someone had just pulled my heart out.
  “Phillip!” Whizzy yelled as the red rubber ball smacked into his face knocking him and his chair over. He fell on his back, legs in the air. “Ouch.” Whizzy rolled over and stood up quickly hoping no one would notice he had fallen. “Ah, what the heck are you doing, Phillip?”
  Whizzy had a red mark on his forehead. I didn’t have the heart to tell him. He looked pretty upset, and I could tell he was blaming me for his injury. His eyes burned with the Whizzenmog fury. He had never fought with me, but I had seen those eyes directly before every altercation he had ever been in. He raised his arms in the air as if saying… “explain!”
  “Something just flew past your window, and it was huge.”
  Whizzy pushed his face against the glass. “I don’t see anything. You must be imagining.”
  He turned around to face me and the shape reappeared. I could feel my breath escape me. The expression I must have shown Whizzy had to prove that I was witnessing the image again.
  He whirled back around, but the image had vanished again. “Stop foolin’ round, Phillip. Come on; let’s go to the basement.” Before I could even respond Whizzy dashed past me and left the room. I heard him call me from down the hallway again.
  I stood up and slowly walked toward the door. Before I left I had to look one last time. Nothing there. I exhaled deeply. I was glad. AH! Suddenly the thing was back. Just outside the window hovering. It was an eagle. It was very large. Bigger than the window…and that is saying something, because the windows in this house were twice the size of mine. It shrieked at me.
  “What do you want?” I yelled out of fear.
  “For you to come to the basement,” Whizzy sarcastically replied from the bottom of the staircase.
  I looked away from the window for a split second, but when I glanced back the eagle was gone.

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Copyright Held by: Christopher M. Purrett

Find More of this and other stories at the links above!



Chapter 5

  Running as quickly as I could I bolted past Whizzy and headed straight for the basement door. Whizzy yelled for me to wait up, but I was gone.
I felt like I was going crazy, as if scientists had drilled into my head and were playing around inside to see what would happen. ‘So Dr. Crazy if you press this part of the brain Phillip will see strange flying objects. Great Dr. Mental! If you press this part of his brain he will shout in pig-Latin and pass gas uncontrollably!’
  Once I entered Whizzy’s basement everything changed.
  “This is the coolest place ever!” I announced as if I had never been here before.
  Standing at the bottom of the stairs, I gawked in amazement. To the left were a humongous flat screen 3D-televison and all sorts of cool electronics. Whizzy had at least three different types of gaming consoles, a blue-ray player and an audio system that could shake the walls when something blew up in a movie. In the middle of the room was possibly the most comfortable couch I had every sat on. Beyond that were a billiards table and a bowling alley…that’s right an actual life-size bowling alley. In the opposite corner from the bowling lane was a basketball hoop and hockey goal. It was like the Whizzenmog’s had an entire gymnasium in their basement. Now you see why I never minded that we always played at Whizzy’s house instead of mine?
  “What’cha wanna do?” Whizzy questioned. I could tell Whizzy didn’t care what we played.
  Where to start? I thought. There was so much excitement built up inside me I was about to burst.
  “What’s that smell?”
  “I didn’t do it!” I quickly denied any possible connection to the smell Whizzy was referring to. “At least I think I didn’t.” Maybe something could have slipped out during my feverish anticipation of actually having some fun.
  “No. I don’t mean THAT smell! It smells like wet dog down here.” Whizzy noticed that the sliding glass door was wide open.
  It was still raining…hard, and the carpet had gotten wet. Whizzy and I walked over to see who had left the door open. Rachel was standing in the grass, her burgundy colored umbrella above her with rainwater cascading off its sides. It looked like she was standing in an amusement park ride.
  “Rachel,” Whizzy yelled.
  She didn’t respond. He yelled again, but much louder this time. Rachel’s face was somber. She must have been crying, but I had never seen her cry in all the years I had known her so I wasn’t sure what that would look like. She slowly walked past us back into the house still carrying her umbrella, which just missed gouging out my eyeball. Rainwater drizzled off the tips of her umbrella and ran onto the carpet as she sat on the couch facing the television. Whizzy and I waited for some sign of life, but all we could see was her burgundy umbrella, still over her head, and the back of the couch.
  “Should we go talk to her?” Whizzy whispered.
  I wasn’t equipped to deal with my own emotions, let alone a 14-year-old-girl’s; I could only imagine what insane things were swirling around in her head…and I didn’t want involvement in any of them.
  “She’s your sister,” I responded.
  “Yeah, but you like her,” Whizzy snapped back. He had been saving that for the perfect time to throw it in my face.
  “I…I don’t. That’s…not true,” It was the best response I could come up with…I know it’s lame.
  But before Whizzy and I could decide who would lose this battle and have to confront Rachel, she blurted out, “Billy stood me up!”
  Whizzy’s eyes almost popped from his tiny head. I had an odd feeling of relief. Mostly because that meant she wouldn’t be dating Billy anymore, but that also meant she was free to be my girlfriend. I started towards the couch to sit with her when she screamed. Then something yanked her by her feet off the couch. Her umbrella flew into the air.
  Whizzy and I ran to help her. You’d never believe what we saw. Wrapped around her ankles was a thick, scaly, brownish-yellow snake. I followed its body along the carpet, but its head wasn’t visible behind the couch. The snake was dragging Rachel across the carpet and around the couch. Whizzy reached her first and screamed like a little girl when he came face to face with the large diamond-headed snake with its golden sideways shaped eyes, forked tongue and sharp venomous fangs. He jumped backward and landed on my left foot. He weighed a lot for a small kid. I stumbled from the pain causing the both of us to crash to the carpet. Whizzy landed in my lap, which was both uncomfortable and awkward. The snake lurched at us, then continued to slither forward pulling Rachel behind it.
  Everything was happening so quickly. The snake was almost to the open door. Rachel’s mouth frantically moved, but I couldn’t hear her. My mind was racing, and I felt nauseous.
  Whizzy began angrily belching out questions, “Where did that snake come from? How did it get in here? What is it doing? Where is it taking her?”
The last question seemed the most ridiculous of them all. Where was it taking her?
  Whizzy continued to uncontrollably blurt out questions, “Snakes don’t eat people…do they? Is it gonna eat Rachel?”
  I finally pushed Whizzy off me. He landed face first next to Rachel. She grabbed on to him, and then they locked hands. The snake continued to pull both of them. This snake is really strong. I thought.
  Outside the rain started to wane. Suddenly, the eagle I had just seen at Whizzy’s upstairs bedroom window swooped down and landed on the cement patio just outside the open sliding-glass door. It shrieked.
The venomous snake hissed and then shocked us all. It lunged forward and grabbed the door handle in its mouth and swung it closed before the eagle could enter.
  The eagle spread its massive wings, which took up the entire frame of the door and shrieked again. Then it began pecking at the glass.
  I grabbed Whizzy’s legs. Now we made a strange train of interlocked bodies from the snake to Rachel, then Whizzy and finally me. I attempted to wrap my legs around the arm of the couch but couldn’t. The snake released its scaly grip for an instant and smashed its tail into the glass. It scared me.
The glass fractured but didn’t break. The fractures continued to splinter like a spider’s-web streaking out in all directions across the doorframe until I couldn’t even see the eagle outside any longer.
  For some reason none of us used this opportunity to get up and run away from this obviously crazy snake. Instead we laid there motionless in complete shock watching the glass splinter.
  The brownish-yellow, diamond-headed snake hissed once more and the glass turned an evil dark gray. It looked like a black hole from outer space consumed the doorway as it began swirling viciously.
  I felt the pull and grabbed Whizzy even tighter.
  The snake pivoted back toward us and snapped at Whizzy’s face. He screamed and instinctively released his grip on Rachel to protect his face. The heinous snake seized the opportunity to wrap himself around Rachel again and quickly dragged her into the vortex.
  “No,” Whizzy yelled. “Rachel!”
  I couldn’t even speak. This couldn’t be happening. I must be dreaming.
Then as quickly as the vortex started it exploded in a flash of white light blinding us both.
  I don’t know if we were knocked unconscious or how long we were laying there on the carpet, but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes.
The familiar sound of rain crept back into my ears. Then the rhythmic tapping on glass, and finally Whizzy springing up into a seated position.
  “RACHEL!” my friend frantically ran for the sliding glass door, which was magically repaired. He checked it over before slinging it open and bursting outside into the wet grass. He didn’t even acknowledge the massive eagle standing on the cement patio outside the door.
  As I approached, the eagle tilted its head at me in a very peculiarly human way. I waited for a moment to see if it would speak, but that was absurd.
  “Where is she, Phillip? Where did that thing take her?” Whizzy was twitching with rage. His eyes had transformed from blue to a fiery red. “I have to help her.”
  “You can, Whizzenmog!” a harsh female voice replied.
I instantly looked directly at the eagle standing beside me. Whizzy gave me an inquisitive look. I think he believed I had answered him. I pointed at the eagle, which didn’t make Whizzy any happier.
  “Stop foolin’ around, Phillip.”
  “But I,” I started to defend myself, but was interrupted by the same voice.
  “You can save your sister, Michael Whizzenmog, but only if you listen to my directions.”
  I watched as the eagle’s beak moved in exact sync with the words I could hear.
  “That’s just not right!” I said in amazement. “Did you just talk to us?”
  “Yes, Phillip Harper, and we don’t have much time. You both must listen to me if you are to save Rachel! We must go inside and close the door. It is the only way the portal will reopen. Please, you must hurry.” The bird stood tall on its legs and flapped its massive wings leading us back into the basement. “Now close the door.”
  Whizzy did. The eagle shrieked in a unique pattern. The glass began to fracture the same way it had when the snake hit it with its tail. Just seconds later the glass turned dark gray again and the vortex returned.
  “Michael Whizzenmog, you must jump now.” She demanded.
  Whizzy’s expression was hard to read. It was a mesh of confusion, anger and fear that really isn’t a good look for anyone. He hesitated at the vortex.
Wind swirled around the room. My shirt billowed like a flag, and my hair stood off the side of my head.
  Whizzy stepped up to the vortex, his back facing me. He turned slightly to look at me. Just then the eagle pushed Whizzy from behind with her giant wings. He fell into the vortex and disappeared.
  “You are next, Phillip Harper!”
  My stomach sank. I felt sick.  She grabbed me and tossed me into the vortex. Then everything went black.

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Copyright Held by: Christopher M. Purrett

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