LIFE OF STEVEN

 

 

[This tale is in many ways a continuation of the earlier vampire tale Vlad in Taipei.  It was written by a different group of students, beginning nearly a year after the first tale was completed.]

 

 

Prologue

 

It must have been around ten months ago now that I proposed original literary production to my Friday class, the class known as Class 901. 

     "How would you like to write a story together?" I asked them.

     They looked at each other silently. 

     "A story?" Peggy said.

     "I give you homework assignments every week, right?"

     "Y-y-yess," a couple of them replied tentatively. 

     "But I think our homework can be more interesting, don't you?  Now the homework is too boring.  Do you think the homework is boring, Robert?"

     "Yes, I think the homework is boring," Robert said. 

     "Well I want the homework in here to be more interesting.  I think we can write a book together."

     "We can't write a book!" Jonathan said.

     "I think we can," I replied.  "I know we can.  I want us to write a story about Steven.  Do you want to?"

     To this there was no response at all.  Steven was a character I'd come up with to help with grammar exercises.  Round-faced, American, freckled, he was always the exemplum of self-satisfied idiocy.  I'd draw him quickly on the board, and the students would have to tell me how he'd respond to various questions or situations. 

     "The story will be called Life of Steven," I said, writing the title on the board.  "That's the name of the story.  Do you think it will be fun?"

     They shot nervous glances at each other.  They beamed at me a dull look of growing suspicion. 

     "Nick, do you think it will be fun to write about Steven?"

     "No, I do not think it will be fun to write about Steven," Nick replied in a monotone, acting as spokesman for the group.  "I think it will be very boring!"

     "Okay, then--we can write about you, Nick.  We can call the story Life of Nick."  I wrote the title on the board under the other title.  "Will that be more interesting?"

     There was no response.  Nick glared at me quizzically.

     "What do you think, Nick?  Is your life more interesting than Steven's?"

     "No," Nick said.  "My life is TOO boring."

     "Well, then.  The story will be Life of Steven.  What do you think, Jonathan?  Do you think it will be fun to write about Steven?"

     "No, I think it will be very very very boring," said Jonathan decisively.  "And we can't write a book anyway.  Writing a book is too hard."

     "Ariel, what do you think?"

     "Mmmmm╔  I don't know if it will be boring."

     "Peggy, what do you think?  Will it be fun to write about Steven?"

     "No, I don't think it will be fun," Peggy said, looking down at her desk.

     "Et tu, Peggy?" I asked.

     "What?" she said, looking up.

     "I am the teacher here, and I think you will have fun writing a story about Steven.  Right, Lillian?  You will have fun."

     "Uhhhh╔" Lillian says.

     "Okay.  Everyone together.  Repeat: We will have fun writing about Steven!"

     "Nooo!" they finally cried in unison, thumping their desks.  "We don't want!  We have enough homework already!"

     "Writing a story will be too hard!" Ann whined.         

     "Yes, it will be hard, you're right, but it will be very interesting," I said.  "Here is what I want you to do for next week."

     "Nooo!  We don't want!  Nooo!  Boo gong ping!"  

 

 

 

Book I: The New Student

 

Chapter 1

 

Hello, my name is Nick.  I'm a student in here in Taipei, on the island of Taiwan.  Recently, a new boy joined my class at school.  He is American.  His family moved to Taiwan, and he is going to a school here to learn Chinese.  He's a very interesting boy, and I want to tell you about him.  His name is Steven.  I remember the first time I met him.  We were in the hallway at our school.

     "I'm interested in UFOs," I said.  "Do you like UFOs?"

     "Yes," Steven said, "I think they are great.  Especially the new ones.  Some of them are really cool."

     "Huh?  What do you mean 'the new ones'?" I asked.  "Have you ever seen a UFO?"

     "Sure I have seen a UFO," he said.  "I have seen UFOs many times.  The new ones are better than the old ones.  The new ones are faster, and they have better video games in them."

     "UFOs have video games in them?" I asked.

     "Sure!" Steven said.  "What do you think the aliens do when they are flying through space?"

     "I don't know," I said.  "I've never seen an alien.  Have you ever seen an alien?"

     "Yes, I have met aliens many times.  One of my friends is an alien.  His name is Rodomach.  He has great video games in his UFO."

     "Wow!  Have you really flown in his UFO, Steven?"

     "Yes, I have," Steven said.  "I have flown in it many times."

     "That sounds great!  Have you ever gone to the moon with him?" I asked.

     "Of course I've gone to the moon."

     "Really?"

     "Sure.  Why not?  Haven't you?"

     "No, I've never gone to the moon.  How was it up there?"

     "The moon was very boring.  I didn't like it very much.  Everything was white, and there were rocks everywhere."

     "You said you came from Florida.  Is that right, Steven?"

     "Yes."

     "Have you seen alligators there?"

     "Yes, I have seen alligators.  There are alligators everywhere in Florida.  We hunt them with guns."

     "Is that true?"

     "Yes, it is.  I have eaten alligator meat many times.  It's like chicken."

     "I see," I said.  "That's very interesting.  What other strange things have you eaten?"

     "I have eaten a door, and I have eaten Japanese sushi, too.  I have eaten old bicycles, and pencils from girls' pencil boxes, and I have eaten sharks and cameras."

    "Hmm.  That's very interesting.  Have you ever worn lipstick, Steven?"

     "Oh, yes.  Why not?  I have worn lipstick and eye makeup and samurai helmets and police uniforms too.  I have worn many things.  I have eaten lipstick, too.  It's like red ice cream, but it's not cold."

     "Well....  This is all very strange, I think."

     "Why?"

     "I have never talked to a boy who has eaten so many strange things."

     "Well, why not?  People should try new things in life.  Don't you think?"

     "Hmm.  I don't know.  Do you like Taipei, Steven?"

     "Yes, I think it's alright."

     "How long have you been here?"

     "I have only been in Taipei for two weeks."

     "That's not very long.  What have you done since you came?"

     "Oh, I've done many things.  I've been very busy in Taipei."

     "With what?" 

     "Well, I've already seen the Palace Museum and the zoo.  I've already eaten 4,000 bowls of rice.  I've married three girls, I've changed cell phones twenty-two times, I've bought seven Benzes (six of them black and one of them red), and I've been to Sogo B1, where I ate some disgusting thing with eggs and oysters."

     "Wow!  You really have been busy, Steven!"

     "Yes, I have.  I've been very busy.  And President Lee wants to have lunch with me every day.  It's very tiring."

     "You've had lunch with the president?"

     "Yes, I have.  I've had lunch with him fourteen times now.  He's kind of old, but he's a nice man.  Having lunch with him is a good way for me to practice my Chinese."

     "Do you speak Chinese, Steven?"

     "Yes, I started studying Chinese two weeks ago, and I've learned it pretty well.  But I still have to learn seven or eight characters."

     "You can read Chinese too?"

     "Of course I can.  I've already written three novels in Chinese.  I wrote one last week, and two this week."

     "Great!  So now we can speak Chinese together."

     "Sure.  Why not?"

     "So let me ask you some questions in Chinese, okay?"

     "Well...  Not right now."

     "But why not?"

     "I don't really feel like it now."

     "Okay, maybe next time."

     "I have to go now," Steven said.  "I have a very important meeting with some generals."

     "Really?" I asked.

     "Yes.  Goodbye."

     And Steven walked away.

 

 

Chapter 2

 

Hello, my name is Lillian.  I'm an elementary school student in Taipei.  I have a lot of homework, and sometimes it is too much.  School can be very tiring for us Taiwanese kids, especially math.  And my math class is very strange.  There are some very strange students in that class.  The teacher, Miss Liao, is sometimes angry with them.  Today many students were late for class.

     "Where are they?" Miss Liao said.  "Why are so many students late today?"

     Miss Liao looked very angry, so we didn't say anything to answer her.  Then suddenly Ariel ran in the door.  Her hair was messy.

     "You're late, Ariel!" said Miss Liao.

     "I'm sorry I'm late, teacher," said Ariel.  "But it's not my fault."

     "What do you mean it's not your fault?" asked Miss Liao.  "Whose fault is it?"

     "I was coming to school, and I saw a vampire.  He saw I was very fat, and he thought my blood was probably sweet, so he grabbed me and took me to his castle in France."

     "Really, Ariel?  That sounds to me like a pretty ridiculous story.  I think you are lying to me.  If a vampire took you to France, why are you here?"

     "Because I came back by plane," Ariel said.

     "I see.  And what did that vampire do to you in the castle?"

     "He hit me, and he wanted to eat me."

     Miss Liao looked at the other students.  I could see she didn't believe Ariel. 

     "You claim you were in a castle," she said to Ariel.  "So tell me, what was it like inside?"

    "I saw many skeletons, and many bats.  Also, there was blood all over on the floor.  I was very afraid.  But then Batman came and saved me."

     "Batman?"

     "Yes.  I guess he heard my S.O.S.  He came and took me out of the castle.  Then I flew back here."

     "Go to your seat, Ariel.  I have never heard such a ridiculous story in my life!  You are lying."     [written by Ariel]

     Miss Liao was very angry.  But then the boy Jonathan came into the classroom.  He said, "Hi, everybody!"

     "Jonathan!" said Miss Liao.  "You are very late!  What is wrong with you?"

     "I'm sorry I'm late, teacher.  But you shouldn't blame me."

     "Why not?"

     "While I was walking to school, I saw Mickey Mouse in a tree.  He took my clothes and started to eat them."

     "What!" said Miss Liao.  "Mickey Mouse took your clothes?  The Mickey Mouse from Disney?"

     "Yes," Jonathan said.

     "That is ridiculous, Jonathan.  You are lying!  Why was Mickey Mouse in Taipei?"

     "Because, Miss Liao, Disneyland moved to Taipei, and Mickey Mouse--he wanted to run away from Disneyland."

     "Is this true?"

     "Yes." 

     "But if Mickey Mouse took your clothes, Jonathan, why do you have clothes on now?"

     "I fought with him and took my clothes back."

     "But how could you get up in the tree to fight with him?"

     "An angel pulled me up the tree."

     "An angel?  I just don't believe this, Jonathan!  Why was the angel there?"

     "Because she is my girlfriend."

     "But how did you get down from the tree?"

     "A big monster came and ate the tree.  So then the tree was very short.  It was easy to get down then."

     "A monster?  Why did the monster come?"

     "Because he's my pet.  I called him to help me."

     "You have a pet monster?"

     "Yes."

     "But why are your clothes so tidy now if Mickey Mouse was chewing on them?  Tell me that."

     "I bought some new clothes."

     "Where did you get the money?"

     "I used a gun."

     "This is ridiculous!  All of it!  Go to your seat right now, Jonathan.  If you want to make excuses to me, you should have better stories than this!  What you are saying is just nonsense!"    [written by Lillian]

     Then Nick came in the room.

     "Nick, you are very late!  You are even later than Jonathan."

     "I'm sorry I'm late, teacher, but it's not my fault."

     "Yes, I know.  That is what all the students here are saying.  Why are you late?"

     "I was coming to school, and I saw Mark.  He was holding a knife toward me."

     "A knife?" 

     "Yes, he wanted to kill me.  He stabbed me with the knife and killed me."

     "He...?"

     "He killed me, Miss Liao."

     "I'm sorry, Nick, but I don't believe you.  Not at all.  If he killed you, why are you still alive?"

     "Because I had a gun, and I killed him first."

     "That is nonsense, Nick.  It is not true.  Why were you carrying a gun to school?"

     "Because I thought Mark would try to kill me today.  So I carried a gun.  You should blame Mark.  It's not my fault."

     "Alright, Nick, sit down!  You are lying too.  Nobody would believe you can go to school after someone kills you.  It is impossible."

     "But it's not my fault, teacher."  [written by Nick]

     "Sit down before I hit you!" yelled Miss Liao.

     Then Robert came into the room.

     "Robert, you're late!" said Miss Liao.

     "I'm sorry," said Robert.  "But it's not my fault."

     "Tell me what happened, Robert.  Why are you so late?"

     "I was coming to school, and I saw a UFO.  The alien wanted to kiss me."

     "An alien?  But why would an alien want to kiss you?"

     "Because I am very handsome," said Robert.  "Don't you think?"

     "Hmm.  But if the alien kissed you, why should that make you late?"

     "Because the alien's lipstick was so disgusting that I had to go home and wash it off my face.  It was very disgusting, teacher.  I had to wash it off."       [written by Robert ]

     "Sit down, Robert," Miss Liao said.  She snapped her ruler on the desk.  "I think this class is crazy!"

     Suddenly Steven came into the room.  Steven is the new student from America.  He waved at the class and laughed loudly.  "Hi, everyone!" he said.

     "Steven!" yelled Miss Liao.  "Why are you laughing?"

     "Because you all look very funny," said Steven.  "Hah hah hah hah!"

     "You are late, Steven!  I want to know why you are so late.  You are even later than these other students!"

     "Well, I'm sorry I'm late, Miss Liao, but it's not really my fault."

     "Oh?  And why not?  Whose fault is it?"

     "I was walking to school near the park, and Godzilla came down the street.  He grabbed me and ate me."

     "Godzilla...  ate you?"

     "Yes," Steven said.  "I was down in his belly.  It was terrible, Miss Liao!" 

     "Do you think I believe you were really in Godzilla's belly, Steven?"

     "But it's true, teacher.  There were other people in there too.  There is a small city in there, with roads, and a small park, and a school for the kids."

     "There is a school in Godzilla's belly?"

     "Yes.  It's for all the kids who were eaten by Godzilla."

     "That is ridiculous, Steven.  There is no school in Godzilla's belly!  It's a lie!"

     "It isn't a lie.  It's really true.  The people in the city are not very happy because the air in there is not so clean.  Also, the only restaurant they have is McDonald's, so people are tired of eating the same food every day.  The people in that city feel very bored, Miss Liao."

     "Did they tell you that?"

     "Yes, they did."

     "Nonsense!  It's just more nonsense!"

     "Most of the kids in Godzilla's belly are Japanese, but some of them speak English, so I could talk with them."

     "This is the craziest story I have ever heard, Steven.  You know I don't believe even one word of it.  But tell us--how did you finally get out?"

     "I was playing basketball in the park with five boys.  I think Godzilla got sick because we were playing for too long.  He vomited and we all came out with the vomit."

     "So he vomited," said the teacher.  "That's how you all got out.  I see, Steven.  But why would Godzilla get sick just from you playing basketball?"

     "I think it's because the bouncing of the basketball made him feel sick, so he vomited."

    "Sit down right now!" yelled Miss Liao.  "Sit down!  This class is full of crazy people!  And you, Steven, you are the craziest student of all!"

     "Thank you, teacher," said Steven.

     Miss Liao raised her arm to hit Steven with the ruler, but he was already in his seat.

 

 

Chapter 3

 

What happened to Steven?  Where has he gone?  When he was in our class, we all thought he was crazy and weird.  But now that he is gone we are starting to miss him.  Our class is too boring now!  He has been absent for almost two weeks!  How can we study math without Steven?  It is too, too boring.  Crazy Jonathan is funny sometimes, but Steven is funnier.  I even think Steven is the funniest boy I know.

     My name is Annie Lin.  I'm one of the students in the class.  I don't like Steven.  I mean, he's not my boyfriend.  But still, I wanted to find out where he went.  I decided I had to play detective.  First, I asked Robert.  Robert was Steven's good friend.

     "I don't know," Robert said.  "For about two weeks, he hasn't come to my house to play video games.  And when I call his house, his mother always says he's not home."

     "But if his mother is home, then that means Steven's family is still in Taiwan, right?"

     "Yes," Robert said.  "They didn't leave Taipei.  But maybe Steven left.  I don't know."

     I asked the math teacher, Miss Liao.  "Do you know where Steven is?" I said.  "Why hasn't he come to class for two weeks?"

     "You shouldn't worry about that, Annie," Miss Liao said.  "That's not your business.  You should worry instead about the math test tomorrow.  Have you studied for it?"

     Miss Liao is crabby sometimes.  I think she should find a boyfriend.  Then she won't be so mean!

     I asked Conan if he knew where Steven was.

     "I don't know," Conan said.  "But I saw his brother Drake at the bus stop.  Drake said Steven will probably come back soon.  But he didn't say where Steven was."

     "Steven has a brother?"

     "Yes," Conan said.

     "Is it an older brother or a younger brother?" I asked.

     "Drake is older," Conan said.  "He is taller than Steven and much thinner.  He doesn't look much like Steven."

     "Is he crazy like Steven?" I asked.

     "No, he isn't," Conan said.  "He's quieter."

     After I asked different people where Steven was, I felt very frustrated.  Because I think there is some mystery.  Some people know where Steven is, but they won't tell us!

 

 

Chapter 4

 

One day, about three weeks after Steven disappeared, Nick came into the classroom:

     "Hey, Steven's out in the hall!"

     All the students in Miss Liao's math class left the room and went outside.  Steven really was in the hall.  He was wearing a funny hat.  It had little bells on it.  He looked a little thinner.

     "Where were you, Steven?" Annie asked.  "We tried to find out where you were."

     "Don't worry," Steven said.  "Everything is alright now."

     "What happened?" Robert asked.  "I called your house, and your mother wouldn't tell me where you were."

     "That's because she didn't know where I was," Steven said.  "It was a very strange thing that happened.  I will tell you."

     Steven began to tell us the story of his disappearance.

     "I was walking with Rover outside our house," he said.  "I walk with him every day after school."

     "Who is Rover?" Annie asked.

     "Rover is my dog.  He's a pit bull."

     "You have a dog?  When did you get a dog?" Robert asked.

     "I've had Rover for two years now," Steven said.  "He is really good to walk in Taipei, because he likes to chase those little Chihuahua dogs people have here.  He likes to eat them."

     "That's terrible!" Lillian said.  "Chihuahuas are cute dogs."

     "No, they aren't," Steven said.  "They are mean little dogs.  They always bark and snap.  And they're stupid too.  Anyhow, Rover likes to chase them.  But I walk with him by our house in Mucha, and sometimes when I walk him there is a girl who comes out to bother me.  Her name is Miao-Ling.  She loves me."

     "She loves you?  But why?"

     "She loves me because I am very handsome," Steven said.

     Lillian, Ann, and Nick made gestures as if they were vomitting.  Peggy laughed in a strange way.  Jonathan said: "Me, too!  I am handsome too."

     "So the girl Miao-Ling loves me, and every day she tries to give me candy and comic books.  She's okay, but she isn't beautiful enough for me."

     More vomitting noises.

     "What?" Steven asked, looking at the vomitters.

     Repeat vomitting noises.

     "I told her I didn't want to marry her because I've already married three girls in Taipei, and it is very troublesome to have so many wives.  But finally she said, 'Please, please, Steven, marry me!  You are so handsome!  I love you, Steven!  I love you!'  But I still said No.  And I told her to go away.  And Rover growled at her.  But then something very strange happened.  She took a little bottle out of her school bag.  It was a very small bottle.  And she said: 'Here, Steven.  Put this on your face.  My mother gave it to me for boys like you.  It will give you good luck.'"

     "She had a bottle of cream?"

     "Yes.  And she opened the bottle.  It looked almost like an SK-II bottle, but inside it the cream was black.  I was very stupid.  I did something very stupid then."

     "What did you do?" Annie asked.

     "I put some cream on my finger, and put it on my face."

     "What happened then?"

     "Miao-Ling started to rub the cream a little, and then she laughed a little, and she said some words I didn't understand.  As she said the words I started to feel very strange inside, almost like I was spinning around.  And then--BANG!--I heard a loud crash of lightning, and suddenly, it was terrible, suddenly I felt myself beginning to shrink.  After five seconds, I was a tiny little thing on the sidewalk; I was even smaller than Miao-Ling!  I looked down at my feet, and I saw they were dog's feet!  I was a dog!  The cream changed into a Chihuahua dog!"

     "Oh, my God!" Lillian said.  "I don't believe you."

     "Oh, my God!" Annie said.  "That's terrible!  You were changed into a dog?"

     "Yes," Steven said.  "The girl was angry at me because I didn't love her.  And her mother is a witch.  And her mother gave her that terrible cream to change boys into dogs.  So she changed me into a Chihuahua."

     "What did you do then?" Nick asked.  "Did you bite her?"

     "No, I didn't," Steven said.  "She was standing there laughing.  I didn't have time to bite her.  Because I heard Rover starting to growl.  And I looked back at Rover.  And he was looking at me.  And he looked very angry.  He looked very hungry too.  Rover saw I was a Chihuahua, and I think he wanted to eat me!"

     "Oh, my God!"

     "He started to chase me then.  And I ran away very fast.  Rover was right behind me, chasing me for a long time.  I ran down many streets in Mucha.  For a little while, I hid in a 7-11.  But he came in and found me, and I ran outside again.  Then he chased me all the way to the Taipei Zoo."

     "The Taipei Zoo?"

     "Yes.  I found a hole in the fence outside the Zoo, a little hole, and I crawled through.  Rover tried to run through the hole too, but he was too big.  So then I was inside the Zoo.  And I was very scared."

     "Did Rover get in?"

     "No, he couldn't.  Because the hole was too small."

     "What did you do?"

     "I started to walk around inside the Zoo.  But I didn't know what to do or where to go.  Then I heard a voice next to me.  'Hey, you!' the voice said.  'What are you doing in here?  Dogs can't come in the Zoo!'  I looked around.  It was a big rhino talking to me!"

     "A rhino?"

     "Yes."

     "It was talking to you?"

     "Yes."

     "I don't believe you," Ariel said. 

     "But it's true," Steven said.  "The rhino was surprised because he saw a dog in the Zoo."

     "It's not true," Lillian said.

     "But let me tell you what happened then!"

 

Chapter 5:

the Steven Bestiary

 

So the rhino told me I shouldn't be in the zoo.  I was very surprised at first.  Because I didn't think rhinos could talk.  Rhinos are animals, you know.  But the rhino seemed very angry at me, so I said:

    "Don't blame me, rhino!  It's not my fault.  A bad girl changed me into a dog.  Then my pit bull Rover chased me into the zoo.  He wanted to eat me!  I had to come in here."

     "A bad girl changed you into a dog?" the rhino asked. 

     "Yes."

     "So that you are really a human being?"

     "Yes, I'm a boy," I said. 

     "Hmph."

     "What?  Don't you believe me?"

     "I'm not really sure," the rhino said.

     "But it's all true," I said.

     "Maybe it is, maybe it isn't," the rhino said.  "Anyhow, you really should be happy to be here, you know."

     "Why should I be happy?"  I asked.  "I thought you said I shouldn't be here."

     "You should be happy because you are talking to a rhino.  I am the best of all animals."

     "Huh?  The best of all animals?"

     "Yes."

     "You are the best?"

     "Yes!" he said.  "I am."

     "But why?"

     "Because I am good at computers," he said.  "Computer ability is a great thing in this world.  With my computer ability, I can play video games and use the Internet."

     I couldn't believe it.  A rhino that could use computers!  It was very strange.

     "That's very interesting," I said to him.  "To play with computers is pretty good.  But are you really the best?  I mean, a tiger, you know, a tiger has very strong teeth.  He can eat any other animals he wants.  So maybe the tiger is the best, don't you think?"

     "No, you're wrong!" the rhino said.  "The tiger is no problem for me.  I have thick skin.  I can protect my body from the other animals, and I--"

     "Okay!" I said quickly.  "You are the best of all animals.  I agree.  But now I should go, because I see some zoo keepers coming.  Look!  Over there!"

     I pointed my nose at two zoo keepers driving in an orange cart.  They were coming toward where the rhino cage was.

     "I have a very tough horn," said the rhino.  "Toughness of horn is a great thing too.  With my tough horn, I can easily kill tigers.  So they are no problem.  Really.  Tigers are no problem for me."

     "Listen!" I said.  "Please!  Where can I hide?  There are two zoo keepers coming!  They will catch me and put me to sleep!"

     "Hmm," the rhino said.  "I don't know where you can hide.  But my legs are very strong too.  I have the strongest legs in--"

     "Where can I hide?" I repeated.

     "I don't know," the rhino said.

     "You are stupid then!" I said.  "There are two zoo keepers!"

     "What!" the rhino yelled.  "Did you just call me stupid?"

     "I have to go," I said.  "They'll put me to sleep!"      [Written by Ann.]

     I ran away from that stupid rhino.  He thought he was the best animal, and all he wanted to do was boast.  It was terrible.  He didn't even want to help me hide from the keepers.  So I ran around a couple corners.  I passed the flamingo pond.  I ran by some sick-looking deer.  And then I came to a fox cage.  There was a red fox sitting inside it.  He said:

     "Hey, you!  You're a dog!"

     "So?" I said. 

     "I never saw a dog in here before."

     "I'm not really a dog anyway," I said.  "I'm a boy.  A girl changed me into a dog."

     "Hm," the fox said.  "I see.  Well, why don't you get me something to eat?  I'm hungry."

     "I'm sorry," I said.  "I'm in this small dog's body now.  I can't get you anything to eat."

     "Well get away from my house then."

     "What?"

     "Get away from my house."

     "Don't be like that!" I said.  "It's not my fault I'm a dog.  It's the girl's fault.  Her name is Miao-Ling.  She loved me, but I didn't want her.  So she did this to me."

     "Too bad for you," the fox said.  "But I don't believe you anyway.  I'm very intelligent.  I can see you want to deceive me."

     "No.  I'm not deceiving you.  It's true!  Can't you help me somehow?  There are zoo keepers in here."

     "Help you?" the fox asked.  "Hah!  I can't help you now because I want to sleep."

     "But please," I said.  "Please help me."

     "How?"

     "I want to be changed back into a person again."

     "Are you lying to me or are you just crazy?"

     "I'm not crazy!" I said.

     "Well, you should be heartbroken, anyhow."

     "Why?" I asked.

     "Because I don't want to talk to you any more," the fox said.  "And I am very handsome and very intelligent.  So you should be heartbroken.  You have to talk to some other stupid animal and not to me.  Goodbye, dog."  [Written by Robert.]

     Then the fox walked back to his sleeping den, and I coudn't see him any more.  He was so conceited!  I was very angry, because I didn't know what to do.  I went to find another animal.  But as I was walking toward the polar bear cage, a big bird started talking to me.  It was a big ostrich!

     "Hey, you!  You dog!" she said.  "You know you can't be in the zoo.  What are you doing in here?" 

     "Sorry," I said.  "But it's not my fault.  A bad girl changed me into a dog.  And then my pit bull Rover chased me into the zoo."

     "Oh?" the bird said.  "That's very interesting.  But why did that girl want to change you into a dog?"

     "Because she loves me, but I don't love her.  So she was angry, and she changed me into a dog."

     "Hah!" the ostrich said.  "You are lying.  I know you are lying because you are very ugly.  And that girl loved you?  I don't believe it."

     "Yes," I said.  "She loved me.  And I'm not ugly.  I'm very handsome."

     "No, you are very ugly!"

     "No, I am very handsome!'

     "Okay, okay.  I don't care.  But at least you are very lucky."

     "Why am I very lucky?"

     "Because I am the best of all animals," the ostrich said.

     "Are you so sure?" I asked.  "Why should I believe you?"

     "I am," the ostrich said.  "You should believe me.  Just look at me.  I am very beautiful.  And beauty is the most important thing an animal can have.  So I must be the best, because I am so beautiful.  All the other animals love me because of my beauty."

     "Is that all?" I asked.  "Is that what you really think?"

     "Yes," the ostrich said.  "But I'm also the best animal because I have fast feet.  To have fast feet is a great thing.  With my fast feet, I can escape mankind's guns."    

     "Hmm.  But is that all?" I asked.  "Don't you have anything else?"

     "I am very tall too," the ostrich said.  "And tallness is the most important thing an animal can have.  So I must be the best, because I am so tall.  All the other animals like me because of my tallness."

     "Hah!" I said.  "You think you are beautiful, and you say you are fast, and maybe you are a little tall too.  You only have these few advantages, and you want to be so arrogant.  It is disgusting!"

     "No!" the ostrich said.  "You're wrong!  I have many many many advantages you don't know about.  For instance, I'm very smart.  And smart brains are very important for an animal.  Because if you have smart brains, you can avoid lions, tigers and humans."

     "Really?"

     "Yes.  But I have one special thing, too.  One thing that is better than the rest."

     "What is that?"

     "Do you want to know?" the ostrich asked.

     "Yes," I said.

     "I will tell you.  The special thing is╔  I am very cowardly."

     "You are cowardly?"

     "Yes.  I am very cowardly.  In fact, I am more cowardly than any other animal.  And you know, cowardice is very important for an animal.  With my cowardice, I can put my head under the ground and hide.  No other animal does that!"    [Written by Ariel.]

     "Hmm," I said.  "I see.  But look!  The zoo keepers coming!  Over there!  I have to go."

     "Goodbye," the ostrich said.

     "Goodbye," I said, and started once more to run away from the zoo keepers.

     I ran past the polar bear cage.  The polar bear said "Hi!" as I ran past.  I ran around a couple corners and came to a giraffe's cage.  The giraffe looked down at me.

     "Are you okay, Steven?" it said.  "I heard you were changed into a dog."

     "Yes," I said.  "Maybe I'm a dog, but I'm still okay.  Thank you for thinking of me.  The other animals just tell me I can't be in here."

     "I can't believe this happened to you," the giraffe said.  "You really are facing a difficult thing here.  Didn't you always say you were the smartest person in the world?"

     "Yes, I always said that."

     "But look at you now.  Look what happened!"

     "I know," I said.  "It's too bad for me."

     "But why do you human beings always think you are so great?" the giraffe asked.

     "Everything is possible in this world," I said.  "And because we human beings are so smart, we can sometimes control the world.  That's how the girl changed me into a dog.  She had some special power.  If you yourself were smart enough, you wouldn't live here in a zoo."

     "Hmm.  So maybe you really are smarter.  Maybe it's true."

     "It's true." 

     "But I wish your hearts were as good as your heads.  That's what I wish."

     "Is your life alright here in the zoo?" I asked.

     "Yes," the giraffe said.  "I'm always happy.  All the children who come here love me very much."

     "Are you friends with other animals in the zoo?" I asked.

     "All of the animals are my friends," the giraffe said.  "Like the rabbits, the elephants, the foxes, Winnie the Pooh.╔"

     "But why do you smell so bad?"

     "Sorry," the giraffe said.  "Last night, I was so tired that I forgot to take a shower.  I promise I'll remember tonight."

     "Good," I said.  "You should always remember.  Or the children won't like you so much╔.  Oh, no!"

     "What?"

     "The zoo keepers are coming down the path again.  I can hear their cart."

     "So?"

     "Every time I stop to talk to an animal, they show up.  If they catch me, they'll put me to sleep.  I have to go!"

     "Goodbye then!"

     "Goodbye!"  [Written by Conan.]

     Once again I ran very fast.  I ran around behind the giraffe cage and over a small bridge.  Then I went into a big room with many little cages in it.  There were many frogs and lizards in the cages.  I saw one very bright red newt.  It looked very interesting, so I went closer to the cage.  Suddenly the newt turned its head toward me.

     "Hey, you!  You monster!" it said.

     "Huh?  You call me a monster?  I am a human being!" I said.

     "Hah hah hah!" the newt said.  "A human being?  I think you are just like a dog!"

     "Yes, I'm a dog.  Because a bad girl changed me into a dog."

     "Really?" the newt said.  "She changed you into a dog?  Why did she do that?"

     "Because I didn't love her."

     "Huh?  She loved you?  Don't try to lie to me."

     "It's true," I said.  "Please help me change myself back into a human being.  Please.  Do you know any way I can do it?"

     "Wait!" the newt said then.  "Why are you in the zoo?"

     "Because my pit bull Rover chased me in here.  Please help me!"

     "Okay.  But why do you want to be changed back into a human being?  Isn't it better to be a dog?"

     "No," I said.  "No, it isn't!  Human beings are better.  They are smarter."

     "Other animals are smarter than human beings," the newt said.  "And spotted newts are the best animal of all.  Maybe that girl could change you into a spotted newt, like me."

     "No, you're wrong," I said.  "I am the best of all animals, because I have agile paws.  Agile paws are important."

     "Really?  Why?"

     "With my agile paws I am fast, and other animals can't catch me."

     "Hmm," said the newt.  "I don't know.  You might have agile paws, but I have a small body.  And smallness is even more important than agility." 

     "Why is that?"

     "With my small body, if I want to hide, other animals can't even see me.  So you can't catch me either!"

     "But I am very smart," I said.  "So I know how to make a gun.  And if I have a gun, I can kill you."

     "That's no problem," the newt said.  "I am poisonous.  Poison is the most important thing an animal can have.  The most important of all.  So I must be the best, because I'm so poisonous..  You would die because of my poison."

     "I can make a robot to chase you and kill you.  The robot can't be hurt by the poison."

     "I'm not afraid of robots," the newt said.  "I have tree-climbing ability.  So you can't catch me or kill me!  The robot can't get up the tree."

     "I can call my alien friends to catch you and kill you."

     "But I am very slippery.  And you know, with my slipperiness, they won't catch me!"

     "Well.╔"

     "And I have bright skin too," the newt said.  "Look at me.  If you have bright skin, you can be beautiful, and all the animals will help you.  But I guess you are still the best--right?  You, a Chihuahua boy!  You are still the best, huh?  So you don't need my help.  You can find help yourself.  Goodbye!"

    Then the newt suddenly jumped behind some leaves in its cage.

     "Oh, I'm sorry!" I said.  "You are the best.  I am the worst!  Please come back!"   [Written by Lillian.]

     But the newt didn't reply.  And I was very sad.  How could I be changed back to a boy if no animals would help me?  I walked out of that big room with all the frogs and lizards in it.  I went to a place by the path where there were some trees and a bench.  I was very hot, so I decided to rest in the shade for awhile.  I sat down on the dirt.  But after I sat down I heard a tiny little voice yelling at me.

     "Hey!  Hey!  Hey!  Keep your ugly feet off my beatiful body!"

     "Huh?" I said.  "Who is talking to me?  Where are you?"

     "Look down at the ground, stupid!"

     I looked down. 

     "Hah!  An ant!  It's a small ant!"

     "Yes, I'm an ant," the ant said.  "But you!  Why are you here?"

     "A girl changed me into a dog.  And then my pit bull Rover chased me into the zoo."

     "Oh, right!" the ant said.  "I don't think I believe that.  That's too stupid.  A girl changed you into a dog?"

     "Yes." 

     "No way!  You are stupid and you are a liar too!"

     "You can't say that to me!  I am very sad, you know."

     "Okay," the ant said.  "Maybe.  But I want you to know ants are the best of all animals."

     "Oh, my God!" I said.  "Not again.  All the animals here say they are the best.  Who should I believe?"

     "You should believe me, the ant."

     "I think you are too small," I said.  "You are too tiny to be the best."

     "The ant is the best of all animals because the ant is very persistent.  Persistence is an important thing.  No animal is as persistent as I am, so I must be the best."

     "You are much smaller than me," I said.  "I don't think you are the best animal."

     The ant didn't say anything to this.

     "What?" I finally asked.  "What's wrong?"

     "You!" the ant yelled.  "I am very angry with you.  Angry!"

     "Alright.  Well....  Tell me something more about yourself."

     "I'm a very strong animal," the ant said.  "I can carry ten times my own weight.  And you, you ugly dog, can you do that?"

     "Maybe you're right," I said.  "Maybe ant's are the best.  Oh, I don't know!  I am so sad now.  Before I was a boy, but now what am I?  I'm an ugly dog.  I feel very sad."

     "Don't be sad," the ant said.  "I am sad sometimes too.  Many ugly feet try to step on my beautiful body."

     "That's too bad," I said then.  "I'm sorry I almost stepped on you.  I think maybe, you and I, we can be good friends because we are both sad.  Do you think so?"

     "Oh, thank you," the ant said.  "Thank you.  I lost a good friend recently.  A zoo keeper stepped on him.  So I am happy to have a new friend.  Thank you."

     "Me too," I said.  "I'm happy to have a friend here.  All the animals just say I'm stupid and I shouldn't be here.  But you, ant, you are my good friend."

     "I love you," the ant said.

     "I will come back to see you when I'm a boy again," I said.  "But now I must go.  I must find out how to get myself changed back."

     "Alright.  Good.  Come back to see me then.  I will miss you."

     "I will miss you too."  [Written by Peggy.]

     When I left the ant, I wanted to go back to the polar bear cage.  Because the polar bear said "Hi!" to me, and I thought maybe the polar bear would help me.  So I started to walk in that direction.  But on the way I saw a monkey cage.  The monkey came to the edge of the cage.

     "Hey, dog!  You know you can't be in the zoo," the monkey yelled.  "Why did you come in here?"

     "Because a bad girl changed me into a dog," I said.  "And then my pit bull Rover chased me into the zoo."

     "Hm!" the monkey said.  "I don't believe you are really a boy.  You look like a dog to me!"

     "You animals here," I said, "none of you will believe me.  And you all say you are the best.  So why should I believe any of you?"

     "Of course the monkey is the best," the monkey said.  "You should believe me."

     "But why?" I asked.

     "Monkeys are very smart," the monkey said.  "In fact, I am the smartest animal of all.  And you know, smartness is very important for an animal.  With smartness, I can trick stupid people."

     "Human beings are smarter than animals," I said.  "Everyone knows that."

     "Hah!  That is very funny," said the monkey.  "Why do you human beings always think you are so great?"

     "Because we human beings are the smartest animal in the world!" I said.  "It's obvious!"

     The monkey didn't say anything in reply, but just stared at me.

     "What do they feed you in the zoo?" I asked then.

     "They feed me bananas," the monkey said.  "Do you want some?"

     "No, thank you."

     "I think it is because you are a dog.  Dogs don't like bananas."

     "Are you friends with the other animals in the zoo?" I asked.  "Who are your friends here?"

     "I have many friends here, like the horse, the elephant, the giraffe╔  Hah, hah, hah!"

     "Why are you laughing?" I asked.

     "I think it's very funny the girl changed you into a Chihuahua.  Hah, hah, hah, hah!"

     But I didn't think it was so funny.

     "Why do you smell so bad?" I asked him.

     "I don't think I do," the monkey said.  "I think you smell bad."

     "I am not happy like this," I said.  "I don't want to be a dog.  I want to be changed back into a person.  What can I do?  Do you know?"

     "I don't know.  Maybe you can find the witch.  That girl.  Maybe she will change you back."

     "Hmm.  That's a good idea.  Maybe I will go and try to find her."

     "Before you go," said the monkey, "I want to ask you one thing.  And you must tell me the real answer."

     "What is it?" I asked. 

     "Why are you human beings so bad to animals?" the monkey said.

     "Oh, that's easy," I said.  "It is because you are very cute.  And because your meat is very delicious."

     "Hm!  Is that right?" the monkey asked.

     "Yes," I said.

     "I don't believe you are a human being," the monkey said then.  "I don't believe in witches either.  You are lying to me.  You are really a Chihuahua dog!"  [Written by Nick.]

     "I don't care what you believe," I said.  "I will go now."

     "Okay.  Go, then," the monkey said.  "If you are really a boy, and you are changed back, then come back and tell me.  Only then will I believe you."

     "Alright," I said.  "I will try to come back.  Goodbye."

     I walked directly to the polar bear cage.  The polar bear was sitting in the shade by his small, artificial lake.  He was white, but he was very dirty too.  He said "Hi!" again when I came up.

     "Hi!" I said.

     "Who are you?" he asked.  "You are a Chihuahua dog.  But why are you in here?"

     "I'm not a dog," I said for the eighth time that day.  "I am a boy.  My name is Steven.  I was changed into a Chihuahua dog by a bad girl.  And my pit bull Rover was very bad too.  He wanted to eat me.  He chased me all the way to the Taipei Zoo.  I found a hole in the fence around the zoo, a little hole, and I crawled through.  So I got inside.  And that's why I'm here now!"

     "Hmm," said the polar bear.  "But why did that girl change you into a dog?"

     "She loved me because I am very handsome.  But I told her I didn't love her.  She was angry."

     "Hah hah hah!" said the polar bear.  "Hah hah hah hah!"

     "Why are you laughing?" I asked.

     "It's very ridiculous."  And the polar bear kept laughing at me.

     "I'm curious," I said then.  "Who do you say is the best of all animals?"

     "I am the best," the polar bear replied.

     "I thought you'd say that." 

     "But it's true.  I am the best because I have this white hair.  Whiteness is very beautiful.  With my white hair, I can have many girlfriends."

     "Yes," I said.  "Maybe.  But it is very troublesome to have so many girlfriends.  What other specialties do you have?"

     "I am very strong.  In fact, I am the strongest animal of all.  And you know, strength is very important for an animal.  With my strength, I can fight any other animal."

     "I'm sorry," I said then.  "You might be strong.  But I think human beings are smarter than animals.  Everyone knows that."

     "Why do you human beings think you are so great?" the polar bear asked.

     "We are very intelligent," I said.

     "Hah hah hah!" the polar bear said.  "Hah hah hah hah!"

     "It's true!  With intelligence, we can shut up animals behind fences and feed them."

     "I don't like human beings," said the polar bear.  "They look stupid when they come to see us in the zoo."

    "Anyway," I said.  "They probably don't look at you for too long."

     "Why is that?" the polar bear asked.

     "Because you smell so bad."

     "That's because it's too hot in Taipei, and I don't have time to take a shower."

    "Listen," I said.  "I'm starting to get hungry.  Where can I find some good meat around here?"

     "I don't know.  Probably you should go ask some person.  But no.  Probably not.  Because they will drive you away with a stick.  You can't be in the zoo, you know."  [Written by Jonathan.]

     "I know," I said.  "I know.  So I am going to leave right now.  Because none of you animals can help me in any way, and you all smell too bad.  I'm going back outside the zoo to find something to eat.  Then I'm going to find that Miao-Ling girl and beg her to change me back.  I'll tell her I will marry her, and she will change me back."

     "Alright," said the polar bear.  "Good luck."

     "Thank you," I said.  "Goodbye."

    

"What a strange story!" said Conan.  "Is it really true?"

     "Yes, it is," said Steven.  "It all happened just like I told it."

     "That is really amazing," Annie said.  "What did you do after you got out of the zoo?"

     "I felt very sad," said Steven, "because none of the animals could help me.  But I thought at least the monkey's idea was a good one.  I had to try to find Miao-Ling and get her to change me back."

     "What about Rover?  Was Rover waiting outside the zoo for you?"

     "No, he wasn't," said Steven.  "I walked along many different streets until I found Miao-Ling's house.  Then I waited outside for her."

     "Did she come out?"

     "Yes, she did.  She came out with her bookbag.  She was going to go to her English class at the Hess school."

     "What did she do when she saw you?" asked Robert.

     "She tried to avoid me.  But I started to yap and bark and whine at her.  So she sat down by the sidewalk and took out a pen and her notebook.  At first, I didn't understand why she needed a pen and notebook.  But then she put the notebook down on the sidewalk, and tried to put the pen in my teeth."

     "She wanted you to write to her," said Annie.

     "Yes, that's right," Steven said.  "She wrote the date on the top of the page, and wrote a question under it: 'Will you, Steven, promise to marry me, Miao-Ling?'  I wrote, 'Yes, I promise,' under it.  It was very hard to write, because it was hard to hold the pen in my mouth.  Then she wrote another question: 'Do you, Steven, think that I, Miao-Ling, am the most beautiful girl in Mucha and Taipei?'  Then I wrote, 'Yes, I think you are the most beautiful,' under it."

     "Oh, my God!" said Annie.  "That is really crazy.  What did she do then?"

     "Then she told me to sign it," said Steven.  "I had to sign the contract with my mouth."

     "What happened then?" asked Conan. 

     "After I signed it, she ran back into her house and came out with a little bottle of cream.  It wasn't an SK-II bottle--it was different.  And this time the cream was white.  She put a little of the cream on my nose and rubbed it.  Then she said a few words in a strange language, and suddenly I was a boy again!"

     "What did you do?"

     "I jumped around because I was so happy to be a boy again," Steven said.  "But Miao-Ling stopped me from jumping, and said: ''The wedding is at six o'clock tonight, my love.  Don't forget.  Meet me by the temple behind the house.'  Then she kissed me."

     "Oh, yuck!" said Robert.

     "That's disgusting," said Conan.

     "Did you go to the wedding?" Annie asked.

     "Yes, I did," said Steven.  "I had to go.  Otherwise she would have changed me back into a dog."

     "It's a strange story," said Annie.

     "Yes, it is," Steven said.  "And now I have four wives.  Miao-Ling is the fourth.  So even though I am back in school again, I think I might be too busy to do my homework well.  It will be very hard."

     "Yes," said Conan.  "Four wives is a lot.  I don't even have one wife, and my homework is hard.  How can you do it, Steven?"

     "I will be okay," said Steven.  "I am very smart, you know."

 

 

Chapter 6

  

Hello.  This is L.B.T.  I want to tell you about a strange thing that happened when I was with Steven last week.  It was Saturday.  We were walking on the sidewalk near Sogo, on Chung-Hsiao East Road.  Steven saw a man sitting on a stool at a little square table.  On the table was a turtle shell.  I knew the man was a fortune teller, but Steven had never seen a fortune teller before.

     "What's that guy with the turtle shell?" Steven asked.

     "He's a fortune teller," I said.  "If you give him money, he will tell your fortune."

     "Hmm, that's very interesting," Steven said.  "Do you believe in that?"

     "I don't know," I said.  "Sometimes I do, and sometimes I don't."

     "Well, I am rich anyhow, so why don't we give him some money and see if he can tell me about my future.  But I think it will all be nonsense."

     I began to talk to the fortune teller for Steven, because, even though Steven says he knows Chinese, I know it isn't true.  The fortune teller said it didn't matter, all he needed was for Steven to sit down, and he needed to know Steven's Chinese name and birthday.

    We told him Steven's Chinese name.

     "What is his birthday then?" asked the fortune teller in Chinese.

     "What is your birthday?" I asked Steven in English.

     "December 42nd, 1987," Steven said.

     I told the fortune teller this date.  He looked at Steven, then at me, then asked if Steven was sure this was the date.

     "I said December 42nd," Steven repeated.  "If he doesn't believe me, we will just have to go somewhere else."

     The fortune teller didn't know what to do.  But he started to do Steven's fortune for him even so.  Soon he seemed to become frustrated, and started to scratch his head.  Steven was becoming impatient.

     "This is stupid!" he said.  "I'm sure my friend President Lee has better fortune tellers than this guy.  We should go play some video games or something."

     The fortune teller could see Steven was frustrated.  He motioned to us to be patient, and then he pulled a cardboard box from under the table.  The box was pretty big.  Out of the box he pulled a bunch of wires, a kind of sculpture of a turtle made from crystal, and a TV antenna that was connected to the wires.  We didn't know what he was going to do.  Carefully he attached the wires to the bottom of the crystal turtle and put it on top of a little stand.  Then he used velcro straps to fasten the TV antenna onto his head.  After that, he began to hum some strange verses in classical Chinese, while he moved the antennas back and forth.  Steven and I waited while he did this.

     "I am getting something," the fortune teller told me finally in Chinese.  "It is in English, I suppose.  I can channel it to you though."

     "What do you mean you can channel it?" I asked him.

     "I mean, I don't speak English, but at least my mouth can say the messages.  Then your friend can understand them."

     "He's going to give you some message in English!" I told Steven.  "Isn't it strange?  He doesn't even speak English."

     "He's just pretending he can't speak English," Steven said, waving his hand dismissively.  "He already had his message prepared before we got here."

     The man's eyes started to roll around, then he hit the table with his fist.  He coughed once, and started to speak....

     "Steven!" he said.  "Steven!"

     "Wow!" I said.  "We didn't even tell him your English name.  But he just said it.  How strange!"

     "Steven, you superfool!  You dolt!  You...."

     "What is this nonsense!" cried Steven.  "I gave him money for this?"

     "Steven, listen!" said the fortune teller's mouth.  "Fools are foolish, dolts are doltish, idiots are idiotic, and morons are moronic!   But you,  Steven--what are you?  Do you even know what you are, Steven?"

     "Yes!" said Steven.  "I'm the smartest, most handsome American boy in the world, and I'm soon going to walk away without paying you because you are a liar and a fool!"

     "I lie not, Steven!" cried the fortune teller, and pounded the table again.  "I see your future, you fat little dolt.  I see your idiotic fate, you fool.  I know...  I see what will happen to you."

     "What will happen?" Steven asked

     "You will take a trip to Spain when you are seventeen," the fortune teller said.

     "Huh?  What's the big deal about that?  Is that all you can tell me?"

     "I will tell you your whole trip, you moron!  You fat little fool!  I will tell you every day of your trip!  Listen...."

     "I can't believe this," I said to Steven.  "He speaks English even without an accent.  It is very strange."

     "Day one!" cried the fortune teller, hitting the table again.  "Listen, Steven!  In Spain, day one, you'll meet a stupid snake.  She'll say, 'I have strong teeth, and I'm very smart.'  You'll say, 'Smart?  I don't think so.'  She'll say, 'I'll sing a song.'  Then the stupid snake will sing."

     "This man is crazy," said Steven.

     "Next you'll see a stupid student," continued the fortune teller.  "She'll have scary shoes.  She'll shave.  She'll get sick.  You'll sing the stupid student a strange song.  You'll sleep and dream of a stupid shark with strong teeth." [Ann, Peggy, Jonathan.]

     "That's day one of your trip!" I said.  "Your trip in Spain, when you're seventeen."

     "What you say doesn't sound very realistic," Steven said, looking at the fortune teller.  "It's all nonsense."

     But the fortune teller's eyes were rolling in his head, like he was in a trance or something.  He didn't seem to hear Steven's complaints.

     "Day two!" he said.  "In Spain, day two, you'll see the stupid snake again, sing Spanish songs, and say, 'She, Susan San, shouldn't steam in the sun!'  You'll speak Spanish stupidly.  Then you'll study schoolbooks and want to sleep.  You'll eat steak before you sleep, and when you sleep you'll dream of the snake.  Again the snake!"  [Nick, Robert, Conan.]

     "It's all sh-t!" said Steven.  "Nobody has trips like that in Spain."

     "Day three!  In Spain, day three, the sun will be very hot, so you'll swim in a school.  You'll sing a song while you swim.  Then you'll see a stupid man, and the man will say, 'Your school uniform is disgusting, and you are crazy!'  You'll fight the man, and the man will be scared, because you really are crazy."  [Ariel.]

     "Yes.  This one sounds more true than the others," I said to Steven.

     "What do you mean?" he said to me angrily, raising his hand to hit me.

     "Day four!" cried the fortune teller.  "In Spain, day four, you'll sing a song very slowly, a special song, and a small strawberry will say, 'Sir, you're smart, so please eat me and go to Salamanca.'  You'll eat the strawberry and take a ship to Salamanca, but you'll get sick on the ship because you'll eat some snake sandwiches.  Then you'll--"   [Lillian.]

     "Salamanca?" said Steven.  "Is that a city in Spain?"

     "I don't know," I said.

     "Day five!...  In Spain, day five, you'll see the sun, and you'll swim in the school.  You'll be very stupid, but you'll think you're very smart.  Everybody will say you shouldn't sing so many songs.  You'll walk to Seville and eat some snacks.  Six days later you'll get sick.  Your friends will be sad."  [Annie.]

     "Seville.  I know Seville is in Spain," said Steven.  "But none of this is true!  It's all nonsense!  We should give this clown his money and go."

     "Listen," yelled the fortune teller, standing up on his chair.  "Listen to day six!  Listen!  I will tell you everything--everything!  For I see the sixth day perfectly!"

     "Oh, my God!" Steven cried.  "We're lucky this guy doesn't have a knife!"

     "I will read to you, dolt Steven--I will read to you, moron--the actual pages of your own travel journal from Spain, a journal that you will write in four years, a journal I can see now before my eyes!"

     The man's eyes were still rolling in his head.  There was spit starting to run down one corner of his mouth.  He extended his hands before him as if he were reading a notebook.  But there was nothing in his hands.

    "Seville, Spain.  Day six!" he yelled.  "Sunday.  Steven's journal.  Sunday!"

     And in perfect English, the man repeated out the following sentences, with a rhythm as if he were really reading them from a printed sheet:

 

A.M.--

 

Saw shark at Seville Sea World.  Said, "Stupid shark."  Shark said, "So?"  Subsequently slipped on stairs, slid into water with shark.  Struggled to swim swiftly.  Swam slowly.  Spiteful shark sank incisors into shoulder.  Scared stiff, screamed, "Seľor!  Seľor!"  Security seľores saw me swimming, water all scarlet.  Seizing stepladder, seľores saved me.  But seeing my shredded shoulder, I swooned. 

     Sent to hospital in Sea World sedan.  No sirens, but serious stereo.

 

 

Noon--

 

Sandwiches at street-side stand.  Shrimp salad somewhat stale.  Sangria.

 

2:00 P.M.--

 

Tour guide Sam: "Steven's Spanish sucks!" 

     I said: "So?  Your shirts smell, your socks stink, and my dad and I spent $2770 U.S. to spend seven days sitting in this shoddy bus seeing second-rate sites,  sleeping six-hour siestas, and swimming in schools!"

     Sam, somewhat surprised: "Sorry, Steven╔.  Sorry.  Our service is sometimes╔"

     "'S--t!"

 

3:16 P.M.--

 

Saw smiling student on sidewalk.  Sixteen or seventeen.  Said, "So╔  uh╔  Seľorita╔" 

     Seľorita said, "Steven?  It's Steven!" 

     Surprised she knew me.  Seems she's seen me in soaps or serials.  Another star-struck Spanish high school senior.  Signed her shirtsleeve and shared some Seville style strawberry shortcake.  All sticky.

 

7:06 P.M.--

 

Hotel room.  Started scribbing these sibilant sentences sitting on sink sweating. 

     My dad: "Steven!  Some more seľoritas here to see you."

     Shucks...

 

The fortune tellers hands dropped to his side and he sat down again.  Steven looked at me with surprise. 

      "So I'll be a TV star!" he said to me.  "Did you hear that?"

      "Yes."

     "That sounds realistic actually.  I think this man maybe really can see my future."

     "Listen, Steven...." the fortune teller said then.

     "What?" Steven asked.

     "You are soon going to be in great trouble.  This year, Steven.  Two evil ones will try to damn your soul.  You must fight to defeat them, Steven!  You must!  You must not be a dolt any more--no more lies, no more games!  Or you will be beaten by them."

     "Two evil ones?" Steven said.  "But who?  Who are they?  Are they my wives?"

     "They are coming soon, Steven.  Listen to my warning.  This is the end of your fortune.  2,800 NT please."

     Then suddenly the fortune teller tore the antennas off his head and looked at the two of us.  He began to wipe the sweat off his forehead carefully.  He coughed a few times.

     "But wait!" Steven said to him.  "Who are these two evil ones?"

     "What is he saying?" the fortune teller asked me in Chinese. 

     I translated Steven's question for him, but the fortune teller said he didn't know anything about it.  He was only "channeling," and didn't remember anything about what he'd said to us. 

     "Besides," he added, "I can't even speak English."

     I told Steven what the fortune teller told me.

     "But it is too strange!" Steven said.  "How can he not remember anything?"

     I translated this question.

     "Listen," said the fortune teller.  "I am like a fax machine.  I can receive a long letter in English, and your friend can read the letter, but that doesn't mean I can read the letter myself.  Fax machines can't read, you know.  They can only channel."

     When I translated this explanation for Steven, he seemed to understand better.  We payed the man his money, then left.

     All that day I thought about Steven's strange fortune, especially about the two evil ones who were coming, but I couldn't figure it out.  It was only later that we would all learn who the evil ones were, and what they wanted to do with us.  The fortune teller may have warned about them, but he could not protect us.  That was something only we could do.

 

 

Life of Steven: Book II

 

The Twins

 

Chapter I.

 

In a castle on the mountain above the village lived the Countess Broch and her two sons.  The Countess' two sons were twins: they were born on the same day.  They were also vampires.  It was two years earlier that a vampire girl from a neighboring castle had bitten the boys while they were playing together.  The Countess was sad her sons were vampires, but she still cared about them very much.  She cared about their health, their scores at school, and their safety.  One day she came to their room while the boys were playing video games.

     "All you boys do is play video games!" she said.  "If you don't stop playing video games, your brains will dry up."

     "Oh, Mom," said Gunther, "you always tell us what to do.  Leave us alone!"

     "Alone!" said the Countess.  "Is that what you want?  Well, too bad!  I came here today to talk to you about something important.  If you boys don't change your behavior, you will both have bad futures."

     "We are vampires, Mom," said Hans, the other brother.  "We already have bad futures.  There is nothing we can do about it.  We are vampires!"

     "That's what I want to talk to you about," said the Countess.  "You know I just returned from Switzerland two days ago.  While I was there, I met with the young Vlad Teppich.  You remember Vlad?"

     "Yes, we remember him," said Gunther.

     "Well, Vlad looks very healthy for a vampire.  He looks very good.  He told me he just came back to Europe from Taiwan."

     "Taiwan?  Where is that?" asked Hans.

     "Let me tell you about Vlad first.  Vlad was in Taiwan and he was studying English at an English school there.  While he was there, he bit a lot of the other students in his class.  They are Chinese people there.  Vlad drank a lot of Chinese blood, and he looks very healthy now.  He doesn't look pale and sickly like you two.  So I got an idea.  I want you two to go to Taiwan like Vlad did."

     "Oh, my God!" said Gunther.  "Go to Taiwan?  Are you serious?"

     "Yes.  I want you to go there and say you are studying English.  While you are there in Taiwan, I want you to bite a lot of your classmates and drink their blood.  I think that is what you both need.  You both look too pale.  I bought tickets for you already.  You are leaving on Thursday.  You have nothing to say about it."

     "But Mom," said the boys.  "We don't want to go to Taiwan!  We like our lives here."

     "You like your lives?" asked the Countess.  "Hah!  Of course you like your lives!  All you do is sleep and eat junk food.   But if you don't stop sleeping fourteen hours a day, you will become lazy pigs.  If you don't--  Gunther, stop that!"

     "What, Mom?" asked Gunther.

     "Stop crossing your eyes when I'm talking to you!"

     "I wasn't crossing my eyes."

     "Yes, you were!  I saw you.  You always cross your eyes when you don't like what I'm saying.  If you keep crossing your eyes all the time, they will stay like that.  Then you will look like a little idiot."

     "Oh, Mom!" said Gunther.  "I'm not an idiot."

     "Look at this room!  It's a mess!  There are candy wrappers everywhere.  If you boys keep eating so much candy, your teeth will fall out.  Then you will be very unhappy vampires, won't you?  Vampires with no teeth!"

     "We're not so bad, Mom," said Hans.

     "Not so bad?" asked the Countess.  "You're very bad.  You're vampires, boys.  And what kind of vampires are you?  You live on chicken's blood!  It's shameful!  My boys can't even bite human beings like other vampires.  They have to drink chicken's blood!"

     "You know how hard it is to bite human beings.  They start to hit you if you try to bite them.  Chickens are easy, and we can live okay by drinking chicken's blood."

     "You're wrong," said the Countess.  "A vampire needs human blood.  You two are pale and sickly because you don't drink human blood.  If you keep drinking chicken's blood, you will both get sick and die."

     "We can't die, Mom.  We're vampires.  We're okay the way we are."

     "No, you are not okay.  And all these Barbie dolls!  I want to talk to you about these Barbie dolls."

     "Barbie is great, Mom!" said Gunther.  "Barbie's clothes are so beautiful.  If you could get us clothes like Barbie, we would be very good boys.  We would study very hard."

     "That is disgusting!" snapped the Countess.  "You want to wear Barbie clothes?  You boys are getting perverted.  You watch too many rock videos.  Barbie dolls are for girls.  If you boys keep playing with Barbie dolls, you will grow up to be very strange and perverted vampires.  I don't want my sons to be like that.  I'm going to burn these dolls this afternoon."

     "Please, Mom!" cried the boys.  "Don't do it!  We will miss Barbie too much!  Please, Mom!"

     "You be quiet," said the Countess.  "You are little perverts is what you are.  It's disgusting.  And there's something else I want to know.  Where were you last night when I came to your room?  You weren't here and you weren't downstairs.  Where were you?"

     "Well╔" said the boys.

     "Well, what?  You don't even have to tell me.  I know where you were.  You were playing with the bats again, weren't you?"

     "Yes, we were."

     "How many times do you have to do it every month?  Huh?  How many times?  If you boys keep changing into bats, you will stay that way."

     "That's impossible, Mom."

    "Don't talk back to me!  You play with those bats too often.  Next thing you will tell me is one of you wants to marry one.  Why are they so interesting to you?  They aren't even human.  They can't even talk to you."

     "But they sing, Mom.  They sing very well," said Hans.  "We like to sing with them.  And they're not so dumb really.  We gave them names, and they all know their names now.  And it's fun to fly around with them."

     "They're not human!" repeated the Countess.  "If you boys don't stop playing with those bats, you will get a bat disease!"

    "Oh, Mom!" whined the boys.  "The bats aren't so bad.  They're our friends."

     "You are going to Taiwan, to a big city there.  I hope there aren't any bats there.  And you will learn to play with human boys and girls.  And you will learn better English too.  And when you have some friends there, I want you to bite them and drink their blood.  I don't want you to come back here until you look healthy like Vlad Teppich.  You boys are getting paler and paler every month."

     "If we bite our friends in Taiwan, they won't want to be our friends," said Gunther.  "What about that?"

     "I don't care about that," said the Countess.  "I don't care if everyone in the world hates you.  I want you boys to be healthy.  I will do anything for you.  I want you to be healthy and I want you to build the Broch Empire.  That's right.  I want you boys to be rich and I want you to have ten castles just like this one.  Then we can all live together and we will be very happy.  I love you boys.  I want you to be rich!"

     "Oh, Mom!" said Gunther.  "We already are rich.  Why can't we just stay here in Europe?"

     "No!" cried the Countess.  "You are going to Taiwan!"

 

 

Chapter II.

 

And so it came about that following Thursday that the Broch twins were uprooted from their familiar surroundings and sent off in exile to a far distant land.  They left the castle, as planned, early that morning.  Before the twins boarded their flight, the Countess gave them a small black leather waist pack.  The pack was very heavy, and she wanted Gunther to put it on.

     "I'm giving this to you, Gunther, because I think you are smarter than your brother.  Be very careful with this bag.  It is full of money.  All your money for your stay in Taiwan is in this bag.  If you lose it, you will get in trouble."

     "But Mom," said Hans, "why don't you give us credit cards instead?  If we lose credit cards, we can get new ones.  But if we lose money, we will have nothing."

     "No!" said the Countess.  "I don't trust you with credit cards.  If you two have credit cards, you will buy everything you want, and you will spend all my money.  I'm giving you this bag of gold coins instead.  Be very careful with it."

     "It's a bag of gold coins?" asked Hans.

     "Yes," said the Countess.

     "But gold coins aren't even--"

     "Don't worry, Mom," interrupted Gunther.  "I won't lose the money."

     "But, Mom, gold coins aren't even used today."

     "Quiet, Hans!" snapped the Countess.  "You know nothing about such things.  Quiet this minute!"

    Hans didn't say anything more, and the twins kissed the cold, wrinkled face of their mother and boarded the jet for Taiwan.

     The flight was long and boring.  They watched three movies and played video games.  The food was good because they were flying in first class.  They talked to a man from Italy who sold wine.  He smelled like garlic, and his breath almost made them sick.

     But do you think, Reader, that the twins were careful with their money?  Did they listen to their mother?  In fact, they were not careful with their money.  They lost their leather waist pack even before they got to the hotel in Taipei!  How did it happen?

     The twins took a taxi from the airport to the hotel.  They were very tired.  When they were riding in the taxi, Gunther took off the leather waist pack and set it on the seat next to him.  Then, after the taxi stopped at the hotel, the twins got out of the car and watched the taxi driver take their luggage out of the trunk.  He took their luggage out of the trunk and put it on the sidewalk in front of the hotel.  After Hans paid the driver, he got back into his taxi and drove away.  But the leather waist pack full of gold was still in the taxi!

     Hans and Gunther didn't realize they'd lost the waist pack until they got into the hotel.

     "You left it in the taxi!" cried Hans.  "You idiot!  You left all our money in the taxi!"

     He immediately started beating Gunther.

     "I'm sorry," said the concierge at the front desk.  "If you have no money and no credit cards, you cannot stay here.  You will have to leave immediately."

     "What can we do?" asked Gunther after they were out on the sidewalk again.  The twins started walking down the sidewalk, lost in thought.  They had made it to Taiwan, but now they were broke.  They had to think of some way to save themselves.

 

 

 

Chapter III.

 

Hans and Gunther Sell

Kitty Dolls in Taipei

 

Here is what happened:

     Before Hans and Gunther left Europe, the Countess gave them a bag of gold coins to use for money in Taiwan.  After Hans and Gunther got to the airport in Taoyuan, they took a taxi to downtown Taipei, to a hotel, but they accidentally left the money on the back seat of the taxi.  So there they were, in Taipei, but they didn't have any money!  The hotel manager kicked them out onto the street, in the rain.  They walked along the sidewalk in the dark, crying.  They didn't know where to go, or what to do.

     Gunther saw a large warehouse near a bridge, and they went inside.  Maybe they could sleep there.

     After the twins woke up the following morning, they saw that the warehouse was actually full of boxes with the name McDonald's on them.  And in the boxes there were lots of little boy and girl kitten dolls.  The bags holding the dolls had the word "Kitty" on them. 

     Hans and Gunther didn't like the idea of stealing, but still they decided to take a box of the dolls and sell them to kids in the city of Taipei.  They were hungry.  They needed money.

     "Maybe some kids will like these things," said Hans.

     Obviously, the twins didn't know Kitty dolls were popular in Taiwan.  At first, they were even afraid no one would want to buy the dolls.  They were very surprised when many people swarmed around them trying to buy Kitty dolls, giving them lots of money, fighting over who was first in line.  The twins got a lot of money that day!

 

 

 

 

Your homework.  Write the story of Hans and Gunther selling the dolls.  Your story must have three pages.  Your story should show:

 

1) Where in Taipei did they go to sell the dolls?

2) How much did they try to sell them for?

3) What did Hans and Gunther say when many people started running toward them, fighting for the dolls?

4) What did the people say to Hans and Gunther?  What did the people say to each other?  (You should show that people in line start to fight with each other.  Men arguing, girls pulling each other's hair.)

5) As the story goes along, show that the price of the dolls gets higher and higher.

6) At the end, there are so many people pushing and fighting that Hans and Gunther are afraid.  They change into bats and fly away with the money.  What do the people say then?  What do the people do?

 

 

Hans and Gunther Sell

Kitty Dolls in Taipei

 

(This is Nick's homework as he wrote it.  It is a good story, but there are many grammar and spelling mistakes.  The mistakes are underlined.  Correct them.)

 

The twins take a box of dolls to Shih-Lin.  When they come there, they shout: "Kitty dolls, one Kitty doll only 50$!"

     Soon, many people started running to them, and fighting for the dolls, Hans and Gunther are very afraid, but money give them courage, so they still sell.

     "Don't urgent, your be next!" Gunther said.

     A Man shouted: "Oh!  No!  My money disappeared!"  So every body crouch, because they want the money!  but that man skip to the first, so everybody said: "Go away!  You are lying to us!"

     The twins saw there is a lot of people wanted to bought Kitty dolls, so Hans shoulted: "Kitty doll only 55$!" 

     There are still many people, and one woman said: "I want ten Kitty dolls!"  Gunther gave to her, but she didn't give them money, and she ran very fast!  So Hans become a bat to chased her, in a little street, Hans become back to the vampire, and said: "Give me 550$!  It's Kitty dolls' money!  If you don't, I'll bite you."  Then, Hans show the teeth to her, she is very afraid, so she give him 550$.  When Hans went back to they're stall, one Kitty doll 70$!

     There are some men arguing, so they scold: "Hey, you, the ptchman, you are too slow, I have been waiting one hours!  It's my turn!" 

     And than, a little girl shoulted: "Who is pulling my hair?  Do you want to die"

     "ZZZ╔"  Oh, some people are sleeping now, they are  so tired.

     "One Kitty doll 150$!"  Gunther thought it can make a lot of money, so he take the money higher.

     It's 11'oclock, now, but it's still have many many people because Kitty doll is cute, so want to buy.

           

 

     What was the result of this first day of selling Kitty dolls?  It was very simple.  Hans and Gunther saw how popular the dolls were, and decided to steal more the next day.  After a week, they had enough money to buy a little truck and sell dolls from their truck.  And they started selling other things too, different Kitty things.  Soon they didn't need to steal any more: they had enough money to buy Kitty things from the Kitty company.  The Kitty company shipped to their apartment.  That's right, Hans and Gunther even had an apartment because of Kitty!  They sold Kitty and Pokemon, and thought about renting a small store.  But they were making so much money from their little truck, they decided not to open a store.  

     "The Japanese are great!" Gunther said.  "They are making us rich!"

     Soon they bought snakes and bats and rats for their apartment, and one of their uncles came to visit, a man named Beast.  He came for a visit, but he didn't ever leave, he just stayed there in the apartment.

     And Hans and Gunther then hired some stupid college students to sell dolls for them.  They went themselves and signed up as students at a school near the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park.  The school was called: Taipei Municipal Teachers College Elementary School.  They thought the teachers there were pretty good, but they didn't like their math teacher very much.  Her name was Miss Liao.

 

Chapter IV.

 

Our new classmates Hans and Gunther invited us to their house for their birthday party.  They are twins, so their birthdays are on the same day.  We were all very surprised to see their house.  It was nothing like other people's houses.  There were many strange things there.

     The first strange thing I remember is the picture near the front door.  It was on the wall, just inside.  It was a very big picture of an old man.  He was very thin, he had gruesome teeth, and his face was uncanny.

     Their living room was dark and looked like hell because there were strange plants, monstrous statues, and animal skins on the floor.  When they showed us the bedroom, we saw two coffins, but no beds there.  Also, there were dead chickens lying around.  I thought it was terrifying. 

     The food they served us was strange too.  First, they served a kind of bloody salad and snake soup.  Then there was human meat, cockroach juice, maggots with fruit, and finally bat ice cream.  It was very disgusting.  But the tableware was very luxurious. 

     They had a special room for pets they showed me.  There was a strange beast that was showing off, some bats were dancing, and many cockroaches were singing.  Everything there was very disgusting. --Jonathan

 

I remember most of the things Jonathan remembers, but I saw some things he didn't mention.  In the pet room, Hans and Gunther also had two big snakes.  One was named Edward and one was named Russell.  They were both around two-hundred centimeters long, and Hans and Gunther loved them very much.  They loved them more than the bats or the strange beast.

     In the bedroom there were many shrouds too, and on the wall they showed me a collection of fangs.  The windows had many bats sleeping in them, hanging upside-down.  It all looked very uncanny.

     The sofa in the living room was made of snake's hide, and the programs on the TV were all bats and vampires--very gruesome for the girls.

     There were many many different dishes.  The soup was red.  The cake after dinner had many bones and fruits that looked like eyes.  The juice was tomato juice.    We all thought it was too disgusting and gruesome, but it was very delicious, we thought.  --Peggy

 

The front door of Hans and Gunther's house was very strange.  It was very big and had bats and ghosts carved around it.  We were all scared when we saw the door, but Hans and Gunther were very friendly.  Once we got into their house, we saw there were a lot of cobwebs and mice everywhere.  In their wardrobe, in the bedroom, I saw many bats and Kitty dolls.  Also they had many black capes on hangers.  Aside from the food that Jonathan and Peggy mentioned, there was some excrement salad, bat sandwiches and fingernail ice cream.  It was very disgusting.  I had a bad stomachache when I got home.  --L.B.T. (alias Robert)    

 

I left the party very early because everything there was too disgusting.  But while I was still there, I saw their two bedrooms.  One was a boys' bedroom, but with coffins and no beds.  The other one was like a girls' bedroom because there were a lot of Barbie dolls in the room.  In the boys' bedroom, there were some dead chickens and a lot of Pickachu video games.   

     It was too dark in their house, so we were very scared.  When we first arrived, they put out some appetizers.  One of the appetizers was batwings with black things inside.  They said they were named "wangbit sandwiches."  Next they put out some transparent things on a plate.  They said it was named "glass salad."  I didn't eat anything, and I left very soon.  --Lillian

 

We saw a lot of Barbie dolls in one of the bedrooms.  Each Barbie doll had one name.  Then, we got into their bedroom, and some of the girls covered their eyes because there were dead chickens on the bed.  But the boys were very happy because there were a lot of video games there.  They had Pokemon, DDR, DDR 2, Mario, Sonic and Tail, Close Combat....everything. 

     After play time, it was dinner time.  We could choose our favorite food, just like at a buffet.  There were many foods, but they were very strange and disgusting, like: frog soup, bat meat, rabbit salad, people ice cream, bat wing sandwiches, and strange tomato juice.  Hans and Gunther thought these dishes were delicious, and they thought we were foolish, because we wouldn't eat them.  Some guests did eat the food, but I only took rice.

     After dinner, the boys were playing video and computer games, and the girls were talking about movie stars.  When one boy went to make a phone call to his mother, the swords on the wall flew down toward him.  The boy was scared, so he ran into the bedroom.  After half and hour, one girl took down a sword to play, but the sword flew out of her hand.  And the girl was very scared, so she ran away too.  --Nick

 

I remember during dinner we were all very curious about the food, and we were curious about Hans and Gunther too.  They seemed very strange to us.

     "Where are your parents now?" asked Peggy.  "Why aren't they here?"

     "They....  Uhh....  They went shopping," said Gunther.

     "Oh, I see."

     Hans and Gunther looked at each other nervously.

     "Why do you two sleep in coffins?" she asked them then.

     Gunther looked down at his plate.

     "It is because our family is very poor," said Hans.  "We can't afford beds, so we use coffins."

     "I see," said Peggy again.

     But I had some questions for them too.

     "Gunther," I said, "in my bedroom I have some dolls and some pictures and some books that I like.  But you two--you have dead chickens in your bedroom.  Why is that?  I don't think any of us have ever seen anyone with dead chickens in their bedroom."

     "Yes," said some classmates.  "Why do you need those dead chickens?"

     This time neither Hans nor Guther said anything.  The silence became longer and longer.

     "Well...." said Gunther finally, trying to seem relaxed.  "Our mother, you know, she thought we would be very bored in Taiwan, so she bought us some dead chickens to play with."

     "Are dead chickens fun to play with?" said Jonathan, putting his fork down.  "I don't think so."

     "Radishes are more fun than chickens," said L.B.T.

     "In fact," said Hans, "the dead chickens in our room are not really toys.  My brother was only making a joke.  The real reason we have the chickens is for our health.  You see, we need to look at dead chickens every day or we will get sicker and sicker."

     "That's too strange!" said Lillian.  "What kind of disease do you have?"

     "It's a very rare disease, and only dead chickens can cure it.  So every day, we have to look at them at least once.  But also, in Europe we believe that dead chickens can scare away evil spirits.  People use them to avoid evil influences.  So it's really not so strange to have dead chickens in the house.  Right, Gunther?"

     "Right."

     Everybody was quiet.  Nobody believed these explanations.  But suddenly Jonathan started laughing. 

     "Nee ga ma?" Lillian said.

     Jonathan didn't say anything, but continued laughing, louder and louder.

     "Nee ga ma?" said some other students, looking at Jonathan.

     Jonathan fell out of his chair onto the floor, then Nick stood up and splashed a glass of cold water on his face.

     Jonathan stood up.

     "I just remembered," he said.  "What is that strange beast you have?  The one that shows off.  He is so funny!"

     "The beast...." began Gunther.  "Well...."

     "Actually," said Hans, "the beast is our uncle."

     Gunther coughed very loud, and stared at Hans. 

     "Our uncle, you see, he was in a terrible accident a few years ago," continued Hans.  "And now he is like that.  We don't usually tell people, but...  We are all friends here, aren't we?"

     Gunther didn't say anything, only kept staring at Hans very angrily.

     "Maybe we are asking you too many questions," said Ariel then.  "But you know, we rarely get to meet foreign friends here, so we are very curious."

     "It's okay," said Hans.  "You can ask anything."

     Gunther pounded his fist on the table, and Hans looked down at his plate.
     "I have only one question to ask," said Ariel.  "Why do you have such long teeth?"

     Hans began to answer: "It is because--"

    "Shut up, Hans!" interrupted Gunther suddenly.  "I don't even want to hear what you are going to say."

     Hans was silent.  Everyone looked at Gunther. 

     "The truth about our teeth is something I will explain to you," he said.  "Our teeth are like this because of the place we come from.  It is an area in Europe.  Everyone's teeth there are the same as ours.  So it's not strange at all.  You don't need to worry about it, and really....  Why don't we stop talking for awhile and enjoy the food, before it gets cold?  Our mother spent hours making these dishes."

     We all looked down at our plates then, feeling disgusted.  The food was too strange to eat.  I heard Lillian lean over to L.B.T.

     "Give me some radish," she whispered.  "I'm hungry, but I can't eat this."

     "Lillian!" said Nick out loud.  "You can't do that.  L.B.T. will die!"

     "It's okay," said L.B.T.  "I will just give her a little."

    He picked up his knife.

     "What are you talking about over there?" asked Gunther with an angry look.

     "We were just saying that these bat wing sandwiches are really delicious," Lillian said.  "Really."

     "I'm glad you like them," said Hans.  "It is one of our mother's specialties....  More salad, Ann?"

     I looked down at the plate he held.  There were flies all over it.  I wasn't sure what the salad was made from, but it looked disgusting. 

     "Uhh...  No," I said.  "No thank you."

     I think most of the food was thrown down on the floor under the table.  We only pretended to eat it.  It was terrible.  I will never go to that house again.    --Ann [and other students]

 

 

Chapter V.

 

After the guests left, Hans and Gunther sat down in the living room with the beast to discuss the party.  They were not in a very good mood. 

     "I don't think they liked the food," said Gunther.

     "No, they didn't," Hans agreed.

     "It's really too bad," said Gunther.  "What's wrong with them?"

     "I don't know.  What a waste though!  We spent hours making all those dishes.  And look."  Hans pointed to the floor under the dining table.  "All the food is on the floor.  They tossed the food on the floor!"

     Gunther turned his head to look under the table.  Scattered around were little piles of the food they had served: a couple bat wing sandwiches, some of the people ice cream, the delicious salad.   Already their pet snakes and rats were eating it up.

     "It makes me angry!" said Hans.

     "Well, at least we won't have to feed the snakes this week!"

     "So," Hans said, "who are we going to bite first?"
     Gunther knit his brows, obviously not very happy to think about the problem of victims. 

     "It's a hard question," he said.  "But I suppose we have to decide."

     "I want to bite that Annie," said Hans.  "Her skin looks very white.  And she's a little fat too.  I think her blood will be good.  We should try to bite her first."

     "Hmm," answered Gunther.  "Maybe you're right.  What do you think about it, Beast?"

     "Dniepr hashim tver loss Jonathan," said the Beast.  "Ohn eta ochyn narrlisches."

     "I think so too," said Hans.  "Jonathan does seem a little foolish.  Maybe he is good to bite."

     "But he is a boy," said Gunther.  "He will be hard to catch."

     "Hashimischem loss Jonathan, redevyet ya kvussteta ohn?"

     "Yes, if you like," said Hans.  "But why do you want to kiss him?" 

     "Ya lubyu ohnem."

     "Oh, my God!  You love him?" asked Gunther.  "But why?"

     "Ohn ahznavatset mynya rhezhaszivayaschimstverloy."

     Hans and Gunther looked at each other, then burst out laughing.  But the Beast didn't even blush.  He raised up his huge arms, and flexed his muscles.

 

 

Chapter VI.

 

The vampire's party had taken place in January, 2000.  But regardless of the plans the twins made that night to begin going after real victims, some months passed before the biting actually began.  The vampires, as it turned out, didn't have enough courage to actually bite a real person.  So they continued surviving on chicken's blood for the months of February and March.  They continued in the same proven routine.

     The twins would buy their chickens from local vendors outside Taipei, and then keep them in their home.  When any blood was needed, one of the brothers would corner a chicken and then choke it to death.  The blood would be good for a day or two, and then another chicken would have to be choked.  It was a routine that could go on forever, of course, but as Hans and Gunther both knew, it wasn't exactly the best thing for vampires. 

     One Sunday afternoon in late March Gunther found Hans sitting in the kitchen in a downcast mood.

     "What's wrong with you?" he asked.

     "Nothing," Hans said.

     "No, really--what's irking you?  You've been in a bad mood all day."

     "I think it's pretty obvious we're failing in our plan to bite students," said Hans then.  "I mean, look, it's already almost April.  And our party was in January.  What have we been doing all this time?"

     "Don't worry about it," answered Gunther.  "We just haven't had a good chance to make our move.  And besides, these chickens are just fine.  I even like them a little better than the ones in Europe."

     "I'm getting sick of choking chickens," answered Hans.  "Another day, another chicken.  It's just too depressing.  I think we need some more serious action.  I mean, we're vampires, aren't we?"

     "There's nothing wrong with choking chickens," said Gunther.  "The Vampires' Health and Diet Book says that choking chickens is a perfectly natural way for a vampire to get by when there aren't suitable victims around."

     "But I think that's just my point," Hans said.  "There are more than enough suitable victims around.  But us--all we're doing is playing video games and choking these chickens.  We should get out there!  We're wasting our lives."

     Gunther looked thoughtful.

     "Maybe you're right," he said.  "On the other hand, our lives are endless, we can never die.  So I don't quite know if it's possible to waste our lives."

     "In any case, I'm sick of this routine.  I need something new.  I want to bite into a real neck and drink real blood.  I want to feel a victim pass out unconscious in my arms.  I'm tired of the screaming of these chickens, I'm tired of sweeping up feathers every day and always having to go back to those vendors.  It's been going on too long.  I'm a vampire, Gunther, and you are too!  We need to get out there, we need to get ourselves in circulation!"

 

 

 

Chapter VII.

 

The First Victims

 

Thursday, April 6th, 2000.  Hans and Gunther made an appointment with Ann and Steven to go to a movie.  On the way, Hans said, "So, what kind of movies do you like, Ann?"

     "I like horror movies," Ann said.

    "Me too," said Gunther.  "Let's choose a horror movie.  Is that okay with you, Steven?"

     "Yes.  I like them too," said Steven.

     During the previews, Gunther asked: "Ann, do you want to eat something?"

     "I don't think I'm hungry," said Ann.

     At 10:00 the movie was over and they were leaving to go home.  Hans asked Ann if she liked the movie, and Ann agreed that it was good.  Steven didn't like it, though.

     Then Gunther asked if Ann wanted to drink some Coke.

     "Yes," she said, "I'm thirsty now."

     Gunther and Steven went to buy the soda.

     "You are very cute," said Hans to Ann then.  "I really like you."

     "Really?" Ann said.  "But I have a boyfriend."

     Hans was upset.  "Why do you throw me away?  Why?"

     But then Gunther and Steven came back.

     "Here's your Coke," said Gunther to Ann.

     Ann drank her Coke and fell into a coma on the floor.  "Quick, Steven!  She's sick!" said Hans.  "Go get a policeman!"

     Steven ran away to find someone to help.

     Once he was gone, Hans and Gunther bit Ann and drank her blood.  When Steven came back with the policeman, she was waking up.

     "She's better!" Gunther said.  "It's no problem."

     "But look!" said Steven.  "There is blood on her neck!  What happened?"

     "How did the girl get hurt?" the policeman asked.

     "She fell," said Hans.  "She fell and hit her neck on this washpail here.  Your cleaning people shouldn't leave these things by the stairs, you know.  It's dangerous!"

     But Steven knew that she didn't fall.

     Later that night, Ann called her mother and said she wanted to live in Hans' house.  Her mother was very angry and said No.

     Ann was the first victim.  [--L.B.T., alias Robert]

 

 

Friday, April 7th, 2000. 

     "Listen, class," said Miss Liao.  "Today we have a new student.  Her name is Angela.  She is also from Europe, like Hans and Gunther."

     Miss Liao looked over at the table where Hans and Gunther sit.

     "Gunther," she said, "where is your brother?"

     "He's sick today.  He stayed home."

     "Hello, everyone," the girl said.  "My name's Angela."

     Everyone looked at Angela.  "Wow!" some of the boys said. 
"She is beautiful!"

     But in reality Angela wasn't a girl.  She was Hans disguised as a girl.

     "Now," Angela thought, "now is the time to choose some handsome boys to bite.  Yes.  There is my first victim."

     "Hello," she said.  "What's your name?"

     "My name is Nick."

     "I'm Angela."

     "I know.  You are very beautiful, Angela."

     "Thank you.  I think we can be good friends."

     "Yeah," Nick agreed.  "I think so too."

     "Nick Darling," said Angela then, "are you busy this Sunday?"

     "No, I'm not busy."

     "Good.  I want to go shopping with you.  What do you think?"

     Nick doubted that such a beautiful girl wanted to go shopping with him.

     "Really?" he said.  "Me?"

     "Yes, you, silly!"

     "Okay," Nick said.  "Okay.  We'll go shopping.  Don't forget!"

                                                                 [--Ariel.]

 

Saturday, April 8th, 2000.  Gunther and Ariel were walking through one of the hillside cemeteries near Mucha.

    "Ariel," said Gunther.

     "What?" said Ariel.

     "Do you know why I wanted you to come here with me?"

     "No, I don't know.  Why?"

     "Because...  Because I love you, Ariel."

     Gunther's face looked very shy.

     "Is this true?" asked Ariel.  "Do you really love me?"

     "Yes.  Yes, I do.  And...  Do you want to go home with me and stay at my house awhile?"

     "Yes, I want to!" said Ariel then.  "But my mother is very strict, you know.  I'm not sure if I can do it."

     Gunther was thoughtful for a moment.

     "Don't worry," he said, "I will tell your mother it's no problem."

     "Huh?  How can you do that?  Why will my mother listen to you?"

     "I can do it because...  Because..."

     But Gunther said nothing.

     "Because what?" asked Ariel.

     "Because you are my wife," Gunther said.  "I will tell your mother that you are my wife."

     "That's disgusting!" Ariel said.  "We are too young!"

     "Oh, well.  We can maybe think of some way."

     "You are too crazy, Gunther.  Maybe you love me, but still--we must be careful!"

     Later that evening Gunther and Ariel were walking home from the night market.

     "What's that terrible smell?" Ariel asked.  "Did you fart, Gunther?"

     "No, I didn't."

     Suddenly Ann came out from the shadow.

     "Okay," she said.  "It was me.  I did it."

     "Why are you following us?" Ariel asked.

     Ann pulled Ariel aside and said to her in a whisper: "Listen to me.  Something might happen to you tonight.  I know...."

     "What?" asked Ariel.

     "I know Gunther is a vampire.  He is trying to bite you.  I'm only telling you because you are my friend.  You must listen."

     "I don't believe you," Ariel said.  "I don't even believe in vampires.  You are just following us because you want to steal my boyfriend!"

     "No!' said Ann.

     "Alright," Gunther said, grabbing Ann's shoulder.  "What is this about?"

     Ann's eyes flashed at Gunther.

     "Nothing," she said.  'It's nothing.  I will go now."

     She walked away.

     "What did she say?"

     "She said you were a vampire."

     "Do you believe her?"

     "Of course not!" Ariel said.  "Do you think I'm a fool?"

     "I don't know what's wrong with her."

     "Neither do I," said Ariel

     Soon they were sitting on the sofa in Gunther's home.  Gunther leaned over to put his arm around Ariel.

     "Nee ga ma?" Ariel said.  "Are you really a vampire then?"

     "Soon you will know," said Gunther, and moving forward once more he sank his teeth in Ariel's neck.

     Ariel screamed and then passed out in Gunther's arms.  The neighbors, who heard the scream, didn't do anything because they were used to strange noises coming from the twins' apartment.  Ariel was the second victim.        [Jonathan.]

 

The following day was Sunday, and "Angela" and Nick had a date to go shopping.  "Angela" was waiting for Nick outside the Sogo. 

     "Hi, Angela!"

     "Nick, darling!"

     "Let's go," said Nick.

     They went directly to the floor with girls' clothing.

     "Wow!  This is very cute!" said Angela, pulling a very expensive Italian blouse from a rack.  "I want it!  Nick, darling, will you buy it for me?"

     Nick talked with the salesgirl awhile.  "Alright," he said finally.  "I'll buy it."

     "I love you, Nick!"

     And then "Angela" thought: "He really cares for me.  It is unlucky for him.  Do I really have to bite him?  Maybe I can choose another victim....  No, it's too late...  If I have to bite a boy, I will bite this one.  He's more handsome than the others.  But he really cares for me...."

     "Sorry, Nick," she said then, aloud.

     "What?"

     "Nothing.  It was nothing." 

     In another part of the store Angela suddenly pretended she was dizzy.   

     "Oh!"

     "Angela!  What is it?"

     "Nick, I think I'm sick.  It might be serious.  Take me....  Take me to a hospital!"

     "Okay!  I can carry you."

     As Nick put his arms around her to support her, Angela's mouth was close to his neck.  And he bit into him and drank his blood! 

     Nick didn't say anything, but just stood there, holding Angela against his neck.  Then she began crying, because although Nick was a boy, she had never encountered real love from anyone before.  She was reluctant to do such a terrible thing to Nick--to turn him into a vampire!  Finally, Nick fell to the floor, unconscious.  He was the third victim.   [Ariel.]

 

Monday, April 10th, 2000.  After the strange events the previous Thursday night at the movies, Steven had gone home to his room to think.  He knew that his classmate Ann hadn't really fallen and hit her neck on the washpail, but he couldn't understand what it was all about.  Why was there blood on Ann's neck?  And the small wounds the blood came from--they reminded him of something, but he couldn't quite remember what.  So what had really happened?  Why had Hans and Gunther lied about it? 

     Then, suddenly, he realized!  The wounds in Ann's neck--they were spaced just like the wounds he'd seen before in vampire movies: they were the wounds of a vampire bite!  And Hans and Gunther--they must have bitten her! 

     Steven almost couldn't believe such an idea, but how else could it be explained?  Hans and Gunther were vampires!

     Steven became very frightened then, because he knew the vampires were right there, right in the same classroom with him, not just vampires in a movie that he could laugh at.

     He decided he had to tell Miss Liao.  That was the smartest things to do because she was a teacher and maybe she could get them expelled from the school.  So on Monday morning, before the math class, he walked straight to Miss Liao's office.

     "Steven," she said, "what do you want?"

     "I want to tell you about something," he said.  "Something very terrible."

     "What is it?  I suppose you couldn't do your homework because a UFO took you up into space and you didn't have time.  Is that right?"

     "No," Steven said.  "It is about the new students, Hans and Gunther."

     "What about them?"

     "I went to a movie with them and Ann last Thursday, and something very strange happened.  After the movie, Hans and Gunther bit Ann's neck and she was bleeding.  I think they are vampires, Miss Liao.  We have to do something."

     "I see.  So Hans and Gunther are vampires.  And now they've bitten Ann too.  Is that right?"

     "Yes."

     "Why do you always lie, Steven?  And this time you are lying about your classmates!  I've already talked to your mother about these stories you like to tell.  But now you even come to my office to tell me.  And why?"

     "I'm not lying, Miss Liao!  It really happened."

     "Maybe you're jealous of Hans and Gunther for some reason.  Is that why?"

     "No, I'm not jealous of them!" Steven insisted, getting angry.  "I'm smarter than they are and more handsome too.  I'm the most handsome boy in this school!  Why should I be jealous of them?"

     "Really, Steven, you are too much!  If they bit Ann, why didn't Ann come here to tell me.  Or why didn't she call the police?"

     "I don't know, Miss Liao.  But it's true.  Ann had holes in her neck, and blood was coming out.  They must have bitten her!"

     "Well, unless Ann is in the hospital, we will see her very soon, in math class.  So we can look at her neck, alright, Steven?  If she was bitten by two vampires, there should be some scars from the bites, don't you think?"

     "There will be!" Steven said.  "You will see.  And then we have to do something.  Because there are vampires in our school!  We are in danger, Miss Liao!"

     But Steven was disappointed that day.  Later in the math class, when the teacher went close to Ann's desk and looked at her neck, she saw that there were no scars there.  And she made Steven come and look too.  The students didn't understand what it was all about.  But after Steven had looked at Ann's neck, Miss Liao said aloud: "It's just like I thought, Steven!  I'm going to be calling your mother this evening.  You have to learn to stop lying."

 

 

 

Chapter VIII.

 

Letters to Mom

 

About a month before biting their first victims, sometime in the first week of March, Hans and Gunther had received a short letter from their mother which read as follows:

 

Dear Sons:

 

I am very upset with you.  Why don't you ever write to your poor mother!  You are very naughty boys!  The last thing I heard from you was about those Kitty dolls.  You need to let me know what you're doing.  Are you still making money from Kitty dolls?  Do you have a shop opened up yet?

     But I want you especially to remember the reason you are in Taiwan.  You are there to bite people, boys.  Don't forget this.  I still haven't heard anything about victims, and I don't know what to think. 

     You better not still be drinking chicken blood.  You aren't, are you?  It is disgraceful for a vampire to behave that way.

     Also, I want to know about your scores in school.  Are you studying well?  You should try to learn some Chinese and improve your English while you are there.  A vampire should be cultivated.  It will help you to get closer to good blood.

     It is only because I love you so much that I worry about you.  I want you to return to Europe as happy and healthy vampires!  Write me soon.

 

Love,

 

The Countess Broch, your Mother

 

This letter sat on the living room floor near the sofa, and was soon covered over with comic books and stray feathers.  Hans and Gunther didn't know how to reply.

     But after biting Nick and Ann and Ariel, the twins remembered the letter and decided to write back.  At least they finally had something to be proud of: they had really bitten real human victims.  They sat down each to write a letter to the Countess.  But what should they really tell her?  Hans and Gunther had always lied to their mother in the past, and this time, even though they could tell her some of the truth, they knew they would lie again.  They couldn't help it.  So they each wrote several drafts of their letters, trying out different arrangements of lies, and left them sitting on the dining table.  The drafts of these letters read as follows:

 

Dear Mom:

     I'm very happy in Taiwan.  I have a great girlfriend here named Peggy.  But my classmate L.B.T. is a radish, so I can't drink his blood.  I have bitten many students: Ann, Annie, Lillian, Nick, Conan, and Ariel.  I've also bitten an English teacher named Eric.  I'm not drinking Jonathan's blood.  Also, I'm not drinking chicken's blood, because in Taiwan there aren't any chickens.   

        Love,

                           Hans                                    [Jonathan.]

 

Dear Mom:

     In Taiwan I didn't have any friends for a long time.  They thought I looked too strange.  But now I'm very happy.  Because I bit a boy named L.B.T. and drank his blood.  It was very delicious.

     In my class there there are two crazy boys.  One is Steven.  He's from America, and he always lies.  The other one is Jonathan.  Jonathan loves any girl, and wants to kiss them.  I want to kiss them too, Mom!

     I want to do my homework now.

                           Bye-Bye,

                                             Gunther   [Ann "Cat Walk" Pan.]

 

Dear Mom:

     Living in Taiwan is so good!  I don't want to go back to Europe, sorry.  Because I can drink a lot of blood, and the blood is very sweet.  Do you want to come to Taiwan?  If you do, I have a way you can come here.

                           Have a nice evening,

                                                          Hans  [Conan the Stout.]

 

 

Dear Mom:

     We are okay.  Hans has an ugly girlfriend here named Ann.  I don't know why Hans loves her?  She is very stupid, ugly and fat.  But Hans really loves here.  Dear Mom, this is her photograph:

 

[Here the letter has a drawing of a pig with its hair in braids.]

 

You can see she is very....  Next we will bite a boy named Jonathan.  He is stupid too.  Bye, Dear Mom,

                           Gunther     [Robert "the Salad" Lobo.]

 

Dear Mom:

     Hi, Mom.  I'm Hans.  I'm sorry I didn't write earlier.  It's because I didn't have any time.  I bit a lot of different people.  Some were good, some were bad.  They all taste different.

     Some day, if you come to Taiwan, I will give you Eric's blood to drink.  Because he is pretty fat, I think his blood will be very good.

                           Love,

                                      Hans                    [Ariel.]

 

Dear Mom:

     I'm Hans.  Are you okay?  We are healthy now.  We're drinking a lot of Chinese blood.  Taiwan doesn't have any live chickens, so we are very healthy.  Taiwan is a very good place, but some people are very smart--like my classmate Nick. 

     Can you tell us, do you know any special skills we can learn, so we can bite these Chinese easier?  Please tell us.

                           Love,

                                             Hans     [Nick.]

 

Dear Mom:

     In Taiwan, on the very first day, I drank my teacher's blood.  His name is Eric.  Then I drank some students' blood, one named L.B.T. and one named Jonathan.  But I think it was very dirty, muddy and....  do you know, it had many bacteriums, so I got sick, and I didn't write any letters to you, Mom!  I'm sorry, Mom!

         We celebrate your coming to visit us,

                                                Your Dear Son,

                                                                        Hans   [Annie.]

 

Dear Mom:

     I'm sorry that I haven't written to you.  It was because I became too fascinated with biting people.  The taste is really great!  If you come to Taiwan someday, I'll give you some blood to try.

     Now, I've already bitten three victims.  They are: Eric, Jonathan and L.B.T.  So I haven't been drinking chicken blood.  I just play with the chickens.  Really!

                                    Love,

                                             Hans             [Lillian.]

 

Dear Mom:

     I Taiwan I love a very beautiful girl.  Her name is Peggy Peng.  But she doesn't love me!  I'm very sad.  Mom--you will help me, won't you?  What can I do?

     Gunther and I always have good scores in class.  Don't worry.  You must come to Taiwan because Taiwanese men are very handsome.  You can find a new husband and we can have a new father, right?  And we can bite him! 

     Let's talk about my classmates.  I think Ann is a good victim and Jonathan is good too, but Ann is Peggy's friend, so I won't bite her.  If I bite her, Peggy will be very very sad.  My heart will hurt.

     Mom, I want to sleep now.

                                    Good Luck,

                                  Hans      [Peggy "the Pang" Peng.]

 

These letter drafts, along with two final versions, were left on the dining table in the twins' apartment.  The next morning, early, Gunther told the Beast:

     "Beast, we are busy today.  Do you think you could help us mail our letters to Mom?"

     "Da."

     "They're on the dining table.  You can put them in the two envelopes, and send them from the post office."

     "Da.  Sicherlichesnya."

     "Thanks, Beast."

     Now Gunther was too careless in giving these instructions to the Beast.  Because he didn't make clear which of the letters were drafts and which letters should be sent: he just said "the letters on the dining table."  So the Beast, when he went to mail the letters, picked up everything from the dining table and put it in the two envelopes, some in one envelope, from Hans, and some in the other envelope, from Gunther.  This meant that nine days later the Countess Broch received all of the boys' letter drafts--which told all different stories--and also a few receipts, which receipts were on the dining table next to the letters.  The receipts read as follows:

 

Receipt One:

 

_____________

 

March 16, 2000

 

Old Wang's Farm, Taoyuan, Taiwan

 

Recieved:   1,200 NT Dollars

 

In payment of: 6 live chickens, and feed

 

Signature: Little Wang

 

_____________

 

Receipt Two:

 

_____________

 

February 22, 2000

 

Barbie and Stuff, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Received:   36,000 NT Dollars

 

In payment of: Accessories for Ultra Glamour Barbie

 

Signature: Suzee Ho

 

_____________

 

Receipt Three:

 

_____________

 

February 27, 2000

 

New Light Game and Computer, Taipei, Taiwan

 

Received:   432,000 NT Dollars

 

In payment of: equipment, games, games, more games

 

Signature: Happy Lee (owner of New Light)

 

_____________

 

Because of this unfortunate mistake with the letters, the twins soon received the following letter from their furious mother:

 

Hans and Gunther:

 

     What has gotten into your head!  All the stories you tell me--they're all lies!  Do you think I'm stupid?  You boys are soooo bad.  I am going to whip you when I see you next!  And you dare to send me receipts for chickens--this after I told you not to drink chicken blood anymore.

     I don't know what to do.  If your father were still alive, I would send him to come get you.  You would see serious trouble then!  He was a strict and responsible man.  But you--you boys are turning out to be ungrateful and demented!  You go to a foreign country and lead foolish lives, and then you write me all kinds of lies!  You boys need a doctor!  You need to be whipped!

 

Love,

 

The Countess Broch, Your Mother

 

After reading this letter, Hans called Gunther in from the bedroom.

     "What is it?" Gunther asked.

     "Look at this." 

     Gunther read through the letter.

     "This is terrible!  How could she know about receipts for chickens?  This is impossible!"

     But then, as soon as he said it, Gunther remembered that it was the Beast who had sent out their letters that day.

     "Beast!" he called out.

     The Beast came in, and soon it was clear to everyone what had happened.  Hans was furious.  He first yelled at Gunther, and tried to hit him, but then went after the Beast and broke a bottle over his head.  The Beast didn't like that, so he picked up Hans in his huge arms, and started to carry him over to the window.

     "Don't do it, Beast!" Gunther cried.

     But before Gunther finished the sentence, the Beast had already done it.  He had thrown Hans out the window of their seventh floor apartment.

     Did Hans Broch die?  In fact, he fell straight down seven floors and landed on an old lady's fruit stand, damaging exactly sixty-two apples recently imported from New Zealand.  The old lady began hitting Hans with a plastic broom, but then Gunther came down from the elevator and paid for the apples.  Even if the apples hadn't been there, Hans wouldn't have died though.  It's very hard to kill a vampire, and a simple fall is never enough.

     Later that night the Beast was crying, and he apologized to Hans for throwing him out the window.

     "Ochen ihzveeneetszya!" he said.  "Ochen ihzveeneetszya!"  Then he kissed him on the cheek.

     "Disgusting," said Hans, and forgave him. 

 

 

Chapter IX.

 

More Victims

 

Friday, April 14th, 2000.  In the classroom.

     "Hey, L.B.T.!" said Gunther.

     "What?"

     "Do you have any free time on Sunday?"

     "Yes, I do," said L.B.T.  "What do you want to do?"

     "Uhh...  I want to invite you to play basketball.  Okay?"

     "Sure.  Sounds good.  Where should we meet?"

     "I will meet you in front of your house around three p.m.  Alright?"

     "I'll be waiting," said L.B.T.

     "Great," said Gunther.   

     That Sunday Gunther found L.B.T. sitting outside in front of his house.

     "Hi.  Did you wait a long time?"

     "No," said L.B.T.  "Let's go."

     The two boys walked to the park while taking turns dribbling the basketball.

     After playing for awhile, L.B.T. said: "Oh!  It's too hot out here."

     "Yeah, I think so too," agreed Gunther.

     "My head is dizzy," said L.B.T.

     "Really?  Do you want to go to over to my house and rest?"

     "Okay," said L.B.T.

     "Heh heh heh."

     "Why do you laugh like that?" L.B.T. asked.

     "Nothing.  It's nothing," said Gunther.

     Once they were at Gunther's house, L.B.T. sat on the sofa in the living room.

     "You take a rest," said Gunther.  "I'll pour some water for you."

     "Great."

     In the kitchen, Gunther loaded sleeping pills into the water.

     "Here's your water, L.B.T.," he said.

     "Oh, thank you."

     After L.B.T. drank the water, he began to feel sleepy.  He started to talk about silly things, and finally he fell asleep.

     Gunther leaned forward slowly and bit into his neck.  He drank some of his blood, then sat up.

     "Huh?" he said to himself. 

     He tasted some more blood, but spit it out.

     "What is this?  Vegetable soup?  I hate vegetable soup!"

     Gunther stood up from the sofa.  "Hans, come in here!" he yelled.

     Then Hans came in.  Gunther told him to taste the blood.

     "It tastes like... some kind of vegetable," said Hans.  "How can that be?"

     Gunther leaned down and looked at L.B.T. more closely.  He looked at his sleeping face, his neck, his arms.

     "Look at these legs," he said finally.  "The skin here is very strange.  I never saw skin like this."

     "It's like an onion or something," Hans said.  "And it's cool too.  Almost like there's no blood in it."

     "Get the knife in the kitchen.  I want to see if we can get some blood to come out."

     Hans came back with the knife.  Kneeling on the floor, Gunther leaned over and cut a little slice in L.B.T.'s right leg.  No blood came out.

     "This is very strange," he said.

     "Cut a little more," said Hans.

     Gunther cut a little more, a slice like a small French fry, and held it up to the light.

     "It's all white," he said.  "And there's no blood!"

     "Taste it," said Hans.

     Gunther put the tiny slice to his mouth and tasted it.

     "Hmm," he said, knitting his brows.  "It reminds me of something.  It almosts tastes kind of like...."

     "Like what?" said Hans.

     "It's ridiculous, I know," said Gunther, "but it really tastes a lot like--"

     "Hey!" L.B.T. yelled suddenly, sitting up from the sofa.  "What is going on here?"

     The vampires were so surprised they jumped back from the sofa.

     "Ouch!" yelled L.B.T., looking down.  "What is this?  You...  You cut my lobo!"

     "Lobo?" asked Hans.

     "My radish leg!" said L.B.T.  "You cut it!  How can you do that, you pig head!  I will...."

     L.B.T. reached for a tall vase on the table near the sofa and raised it above him.  "I will kill you both!" he screamed hysterically.  "My lobo!  You cut my lobo!"

     The vase went flying through the air and hit Gunther on the head.  He fell to the floor, unconscious.  Then L.B.T. grabbed another vase from another table and held it up to throw at Hans.

     "I didn't do it!" cried Hans, running toward the door to the bedroom.  "It was my bro--"

     The vase flew through the air and smashed against the wall.  Hans ran into the bedroom and slammed the door.

     L.B.T. went directly to the bedroom door and started pounding on it.  "Come out, you scum!" he yelled.  "How dare you cut my lobo!  Come out, so I can smash your long ugly nose to the other side of your head!"

     "Go away!" said Hans from inside the room.  "Go away or I will get the Beast to come and beat you up!"

     Then L.B.T. remembered the Beast he saw at the party.  He became scared.  "That Beast could make a salad of me," he thought.  "I better leave right now."

     Running directly to the door, L.B.T. let himself out into the hall.  He limped to the elevator and soon made his way down to the street.

     Did L.B.T. become a vampire from the bite?  In fact, he did not.  Gunther didn't drink enough from him, and his lobo-blood was not at all effected by the bite.  When he got home that night, he told his sister and his mother what had happened, and the next day his mother called the school.

 

A few minutes after L.B.T. left their apartment, Hans came out of the bedroom and woke up Gunther with a splash of water in the face.

     "Where is he?" said Gunther.  "Did you chain him up in the bedroom?"

     "No.  He escaped."

     "He escaped?" cried Gunther.  "How could you let him escape?"

     "I had no choice.  He was going to hit me with a vase."

     "No choice?  But why didn't you bite him first?"

     "Me?  Why should I bite him?" cried Hans angrily.  "He tasted like a vegetable!  I'm not a vegetarian, you know!  And besides--he was your victim.  You brought him here."

     "But I was unconscious!" said Hans.

     "He was fast, that little L.B.T.  He got away."

     "What can we do now?"

     "I don't know.  But we may be in trouble.  If he tells him mother, and if she tells the school."

     "Oh, no!" cried Hans.  "They will send vampire slayers after us."

     "Calm down," Gunther said.  "Maybe if we can get to Miss Liao before L.B.T. does--maybe we can still save ourselves."

     "Tell me your plan."

                                                  [Ann; Eric.]

 

Later that night, around 9:30 p.m., a student named Conan who loves to play computer games was going out to buy some new ones.  He was walking along a dark alley to the only computer store open at that time when he saw his classmate Gunther walking in front of him.  Conan thought it was very strange.

    "Hey, Gunther!" Conan cried out.  "Why are you here?"

     "Oh.  I'm going to give some of my computer games to poor children who live around here," said Gunther.

     "Give me some," said Conan.

     "Why?"

     "I love to play computer games," Conan said.  "And maybe I don't have the same ones you have."

     "Okay," Gunther said, reaching in his pocket.  "This one here is the best one."

     "Good.  I want that one." 

     "But it has some problems, I think.  Sometimes it doesn't work right.  Maybe if you come home with me, I'll give you a game with no problems."

     "Let's go!"  Conan couldn't wait.

     They began to walk down a little side alley.  It was very dark and quiet.  Then they walked in a smaller alley.  Conan became very scared. 

     "Gu...  Gu... Gu... Gu... Gunther, I... I... I... I think, um, I... I have to... to go home now.  You can gi... gi... gi... give me the computer game to... to... "

     "Today?" Gunther asked.

     "N... N... N... No.  I mean to... to..."

     "Oh, you mean tonight!" said Gunther.  "Tonight."

     "No, n... n... not tonight.  I mean to... to... tomorrow."

     "Well, sorry Conan," said Gunther.  "But you can't get it tomorrow.  You'll have to take it tonight."

     "Huh?  But.... But...  But why tonight?"

     Conan felt very strange as he looked at Gunther.  Gunther had such a strange look on his face.

     "Because, Conan--because tomorrow you will be dead."

     Conan screamed once and began to run down the alley.  But Gunther was smarter than Conan.  He changed into a bat and landed in front of him.

     "Don't move!" Gunther yelled.  "Don't try to run or I'll kill you!"

     "What?" Conan gasped.  "Why do you want to kill me?"

     "You don't know?  Are you all so stupid then?  Can't you see what I am?"

     Conan was gasping heavily.  "What?" he said.  "What are you?  I thought you were a very nice classmate.  If you are trying to do something bad here, I'll call the other students.  You'll be expelled from the school, Gunther!"

     "Hah hah hah!  Very funny, Conan!  You think I care about that?  I am a VAMPIRE, Conan.  A VAMPIRE!  I came to the school to drink blood, that's all.  And you are my next victim."

     "You.... you... you...  Oh, my God!"

     "It's too late, Conan!"

     Conan tried to hit Gunther, but missed.  There followed a short struggle.  Ten minutes later all that could be seen in the dark alley was Conan's cold body on the pavement. 

 

Monday, April 17th, 2000.  The phone rang in Conan's house.

     "Hello," his mother said.

     "Hello," a boy's voice said.  "Is Conan there?"

     "Yes, he is.  He's in his room.  Who's calling please?"

     "It's L.B.T.," the boy said.  "Tell him it's L.B.T."

     "Alright.  I'll get him."

     "Hello," Conan said into the phone.

     "Conan, it's L.B.T.  Listen, something--"

     "You weren't in school today."

     "I know.  I was at the doctor."

     "What do you want?"

     "I need to talk to you.  Something terrible happened at Hans and Gunther's house yesterday.  You won't believe--"

     "Why are you bothering me?" Conan said.

     "Conan, what's wrong with you?  You have to listen.  It's about Hans and Gunther.  They--"

     "Don't tell me any bad things about Hans and Gunther.  They are my best friends."

     "Huh?" L.B.T. asked.

     "Yes, they are very cool," Conan said.  "So I don't need some kid who's not even made of meat to tell me bad things about them--you hear me?"

     "But--"

     But Conan had already hung up the phone.

     "Who was that boy?" Conan's mother asked.

     "He's crazy," Conan said.  "I'm going to my room."

 

Tuesday, April 18th, 2000.  The following night was very silent on the campus of Taiwan National University.  But it was not so silent at all.  Two people were sitting on the stairs holding hands.  One was a girl, and the other was a boy.  The girl wore a beautiful green dress; the boy wore a handsome suit.  The boy said:

     "Lillian...  Ah...  Do you love me?"

     The girl named Lillian said: "What a stupid question, Hans.  I have always loved you.  But I want to ask you something."

     "Yes?"

     "When did you start to falling in love with me?"

     Hans answered quickly: "When I was born."

     Lillian's face turned red, and looked both very happy and shy.

     After two or three minutes, Hans said to Lillian softly: "I bought some roses to send my beautiful girlfriend--Lillian."

     Then he went around the corner of the building and came back to Lillian carrying a huge bouquet of roses.  She was very surprised, and she started to cry like a stupid girl.

     "Marry me, Lillian.  Marry me.  You will have many many roses in your bedroom, and I'll cook very good batwing salad for you.  Please, my love, marry me."

     Lillian stopped crying and looked at him.  "Do you have any earrings or something you can give me?" she asked.

     "Yes, of course," Hans said.  "I bought a necklace for you.  Here it is."

     He put a very beautiful necklace in his hand and said: "I want to put this on your neck, but you must first take off your cross necklace."

     Lillian loved the necklace so much that she quickly took off the cross from around her neck.  She said: "Hans, quickly, put it on my neck!"

     Hans came around behind her slowly, moving her hair out of the way.

     "Quickly, Hans!" Lillian yelled.  "Quickly!  Are you a turtle?"

     Suddenly Hans' hand came up and covered Lillian's mouth, and his fangs came down and bit into Lillian's beautiful white neck.  Lillian's eyes became bigger and bigger.  Hans continued until he had drunk enough of her blood and was full.  Then he let Lillian go, and she fell to the ground unconscious.

     Hans laughed.

     "How stupid you are!" he cried. "I never loved you in my life, you stupid girl!  And maybe I even hate you.  My true love is Peggy.  She is the most beautiful girl in the world!  And these roses--I wanted to send them to her, not to you, you fool!" 

     Hans carried the roses and the necklace away with him into the darkness.       [Peggy.]

 

On the morning of April 19th, Hans stopped Jonathan outside the classroom.

     "Hi, Jonathan."

     "Hi, Hans."

     "It's a fact you're the handomest boy in the school, right?"

     "Hah!  Hah!" Jonathan answered.  "Of course it is.  I'm even the handsomest boy in the world!"

     "So I want to invite you to my house again.  Can you come by my house at...  night?"

     "Hmm....  Okay, why not?  I'll come over to your house tonight.  Is that good?"

     "Yes," Hans said.

     When the night came, Jonathan was very happy because he would go to Hans' house to play and eat the disgusting food.  When he got there, he started to play with the dead chickens right away.  But suddenly, there was a power failure.

     "Oh!  What is this?" Hans said.  "Everything is dark!  I guess it's a blackout."

     "It happens a lot in Taipei," Jonathan said.

     "Jonathan," Hans said.

     "Yes?"

     "It's very dangerous now, so we won't talk.  And we'll close our eyes too.  Okay?"

     "Sure," said Jonathan. 

     When Jonathan closed his eyes, Hans stood up and approached him slowly.  He leaned over to sink his teeth into Jonathan's fat little neck.  Then Jonathan opened his mouth, but he didn't scream.  He laughed, and he started to squirm around.

     "That tickles!" he said. 

     Hans leaned closer again, and tried to get his teeth against Jonathan's neck.  But Jonathan laughed even harder and pushed Hans away.

     "You are too silly!" he cried.  "That tickles very much!" 

     Jonathan rolled off the sofa and started to roll around on the floor.  All the while Hans was trying to bite him, but couldn't get close to his neck.  Jonathan was laughing too hard and squirming too much.

     "Are you crazy?!" Hans yelled finally in the dark.

     "Me?  Me crazy?  You are trying to kiss my neck!  You are bien tai!"

     Hans tried one more time, but Jonathan kept moving too much.  And then Jonathan jumped up and stumbled in the dark.  He hit his knee on the coffee table.

     "Ouch!" 

     But then he knew which direction the main door was.  He ran there in the dark and got outside.

     "Hey!"  Hans was yelling.

     Jonathan didn't put his shoes on, but ran down the stairway of the building.  Hans didn't try to chase him, so he got away.

     Jonathan was too foolish to be a victim.

 

Tuesday, April 25th, 2000.  Although Hans was in love with fat Peggy, Gunther was not.  Gunther didn't care about Hans' love.  So the stupid Gunther invited fat Peggy to go shopping.  They went together to Shih Men Ding watched a movie, go shopping and eat Tsong Yo Bing.

     "Peggy!" said Gunther.  "Do you want to eat the Tsong Yo Bing?"

     "Yes, yes, yes, my baby!  I love it very much!" said Peggy.  "Do you know where we can buy this?"

     "Oh!  Of course!" said the Gunther very louder. "Do you want to eat?"

     Then the Gunther lead Peggy into a dreaks ruelle.

     "Excuse me, Gunth!" Peggy ask.  "The Tsong Yo Bing isn't here, I think!"

    "Ho!  Ho!  Ho!" Gunther yock.  "You're a fat Peggy!  Ho!  Ho!  Ho!  I tall you!  I'm a vampire!  Oh!  Ho!  Ho!" 

     Peggy think he is a stupid boy.  But suddently, Gunther pushed Peggy up against the wall and lifted her off the groud.  And bit her.  And drink her blood.

     "Oh....  Oh.... my god!"

     "Help...."

     Poor Peggy, been a sufferer again....  It's the Tsong Yo Bing's fault!             [Annie unplugged.]

 

 

Chapter X.

 

By the end of that long and terrible April, nearly everyone had fallen victim to Hans and Gunther.  The school would never be the same again!  The students were becoming vampires left and right.  I was one of the few who hadn't been taken, and that was only because the vampires couldn't drink my radish flavored blood.  So you see, lobo tway are very useful sometimes!

     I needed to have a meeting with Jonathan and Steven.  We had to decide how to defend ourselves against our classmates.  Any one of them could bite us any time.  Being half vegetable, I didn't think I was in too much danger, but those two fools Jonathan and Steven--they could be bitten by Annie or by Peggy or by Nick or by Conan.  Even Ariel was a vampire!  It was too dangerous.

     We decided to meet in a church.  The vampires would be afraid to follow us there.  At first it wasn't easy convincing Jonathan that Hans and Gunther were really vampires.

     "Okay, you two," he shouted as he walked toward us.  "Why do you want to meet me in this ugly church?  I can't endure it!  It's so dark and quiet in here!"

     "It's because of the vampires," Steven said.  "Don't you know there are vampires in the school?"

     "Hah hah hah!" Jonathan laughed. "Are you crazy?  There is no such thing as vampires!"

     "Look at this then," I said, and showed him where my lobo was cut.  "What is this?"

     "I don't know!" Jonathan said.  "Maybe your mother needed to make a salad."

     "No!" I said, and explained how it happened.

     "Wow!  That is too strange."  Suddenly Jonathan looked quite scared.  "I'm very scared of vampires, you know.  But I didn't think they were real."

     "They are real," Steven said.  "I saw Hans and Gunther bite Ann.  I saw it happen."

     "Oh, my God!" Jonathan said.  "Did you really?"

     "Yes."

     "How kong boo!"

     "We must wear crosses around our necks," I said, "and eat a lot of garlic."

     "Garlic?" asked Jonathan.

     "Don't you know?" I said.  "Vampires hate garlic."

     "But I don't like eating garlic," Jonathan said.  "It makes my breath bad, and the girls won't kiss me."

     "Too bad!" said Steven.  "This is serious here.  If you want to kiss the girls, maybe you can bite them too--because kissing girls in our school will make you a vampire.  They're almost all vampires already."

     "That's sad," Jonathan said.  "We have to tell Miss Liao."

     "I don't know if she'll believe it," Steven said.  "She doesn't believe anything I say."

     "We can all go together," I said.  "Let's do it tomorrow."

     "Good idea," Steven said.  "And I'll bring garlic for everyone.  My mother loves to make Italian food, so we have a lot of garlic in the house."

     "Everyone remember to wear a cross," I said.

     "I will have to find one.  I don't have one at home," Jonathan said.

     Finally we all left the church.  The next day we would start to fight the vampires.         [Nick and others.]

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter XI.

 

Oh, those scurvy twins!  Those demons!  Those bloodsuckers! 

     This is handsome Steven, the smart and handsome student.  I know I'm always lying, but this time, here in this chapter, I'm not lying.  It's all true!  It's about the math teacher, Miss Liao.  It was really a surprise, what happened when we went to talk to her. 

     Crazy Jonathan, L.B.T. and me, we went to talk to her about the vampire problem.  We thought maybe she'd believe us if there were three of us.

     "Steven, do you have your cross?" L.B.T. asked me when we met in the hall.  L.B.T. is a good friend.  He really cares about me.

     "Ha hah hah!" I said.  "I have mine.  Of course!"

     "Jonathan?  What about you?"

     "Well..." Jonathan said.  "You know--I couldn't find one at home."

     "Hmm," I said.  "Maybe you'll be the next victim.  Maybe today."

     L.B.T. and Jonathan were silent for a moment. 

     "Alright," I said.  "May wun tee.  We'll go talk to Miss Liao.  We should be safe there, at least."

     We went to the office and knocked on the door: "KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.  We have to talk to you about something, Miss Liao.  Can we come in?"

     "Okay!  Come in!" Miss Liao said very loudly.

     When we came into her office, though, Miss Liao looked...  I don't know why, but she looked...  kind of deathly.

     "Miss Liao!  Why are you looking at us like that?" I asked. 

     Then Jonathan hauled my clothes and said, "She probably has a cold, Steven!"

     "Steven, L.B.T.," she said, "you two have to leave.  I want to talk to Jonathan awhile."

     L.B.T. felt strange.  "Why...  But we wanted to talk to you, and you tell us to leave," he said.  "Can you listen to us first?"

     "Shut up!" Miss Liao yelled.  "Go now!"

     I saw her fangs very clearly then.

     L.B.T. hit my shoulder.  "Go now, Steven!  Go now!"

     I yelled at Jonathan: "Quick!  Miss Liao is a vampire!"  But it was too late!  Miss Liao had already caught Jonathan by the arm.

     L.B.T. and I were in the hall, running for the stairs.  And L.B.T.'s rabbit was just behind us.  We could hear Jonathan screaming in the office: "Help!  Steeeeeven!  Help!"

     We got down the stairs and started to run, but then I stopped.

     "L.B.T.!" I said.  "Please!"

     "What?"

     "We can't let him become a vampire.  If he becomes a vampire, I'll be the most foolish person in the world."

     L.B.T. thought awhile and said: "You're right!  If he becomes a vampire, I'll be the second most foolish person in the world.  But I don't want to be!"

     We could see Jonathan's fat arms hanging out the window of Miss Liao's office.  "Help!" he was screaming.  "Help!"

     "What can we do?" L.B.T. said.

     Because I am so smart, I thought very quickly.  I tore the gold cross from my neck and tossed it up to Jonathan.  But he missed!  L.B.T. caught it and tossed it again.  This time he caught it!  We saw his arms swing back into the office and we heard Miss Liao's scream.

     "You *#%^!" yelled Jonathan.  "You *%#@#!"

     Soon we could hear Jonathan's footsteps running down the stairs.  He'd escaped!  But when he got to the last few stairs, he tripped!  And he landed on L.B.T.'s rabbit!

     "My rabbit!" yelled L.B.T.  "Jonathan, you %*#^@!"

     Jonathan stood up.  The rabbit was as flat as a pancake.

     "I'm sorry, L.B.T.  I'm sorry."

     "We save your life and you kill my rabbit!"

     I could see the vegetable blood flashing in L.B.T.'s eyes.  He was very angry.  He loved that rabbit.

     "We should go before Miss Liao recovers!" I said.  "C'mon."

     L.B.T. still didn't move.

     "My precious," he said.  "My faithful friend." 

     He kneeled down and peeled the rabbit off the schoolyard pavement.

     "We must go bury her right now."

     "We will go," said Jonathan.  "I'm sorry."

     "We must go to a cemetery in Mucha.  We must bury her on the hillside."

     We went to the metro stop by the school to get a train to Mucha.  While we rode the train people kept looking at us and whispering.  I think it was because L.B.T. was carrying the rabbit.

     When we got to the cemetery, L.B.T. started to dig a small grave.  He was crying.

     "I loved her so much!" he said.  "She was like my wife."

     "I'm sorry," Jonathan said again.

     L.B.T. put the dirt on top of the grave and we sat down next to it.

     "I know you loved that rabbit," I said to L.B.T., "but you shouldn't feel so bad.  You will be alright."

     "Why?" he said. 

     "Because I can help you find another wife.  A real wife, L.B.T.!  You shouldn't be married to a rabbit anyway.  The rabbit can bite your lobo tway while you sleep.  It isn't good!"

     "I know," said L.B.T.  "Sometimes that happened.  But still I loved her very much."

     "Don't feel bad," I said.  "I can help you find a new wife."

     "Really?"

     "Yes."

     "Then maybe it's not so bad," he said.  "I shouldn't care so much about a rabbit, I guess.  Maybe I should even thank Jonathan."

     Suddenly we felt a cold breeze blow over us.  It was very strange because the weather was very hot.  We all looked at each other.  Then, from behind a gravestone, we could see it!  It was the rabbit's soul!

     "Oh, my God!" yelled Jonathan.

     We were frozen in place.  The soul came forward, the eyes fixed on L.B.T.

     "L.B.T.!" it said.  "I loved you very much, but you... you...  you are a bad boy!"

     The rabbit's soul gripped L.B.T.'s neck and started pulling him toward the grave.

     "See you guys later," Jonathan said, and ran away.

     "Save me!" L.B.T. cried.

     I grabbed one lobo and pulled against the rabbit.  But the rabbit was pulling harder.  Already L.B.T. was almost in the grave with the rabbit!  How could he be saved?...   [The above by Annie, Peggy, Ariel.]

 

*     *     *

 

As it turned out, L.B.T. was saved.  But there are various versions of how he was saved, and it is by no means certain which one is correct:

 

1) The rabbit looked like very angry.  L.B.T. was nervous, and I tried to pull him back.  But the soul was strong, even I have a lot of oil but is not help.  I don't know what to do now.  You know I like L.B.T., I can't see him to die!

     Then I heard L.B.T. said: "Rabbit darling, you know Mucha is far for my house, I can't come to see you every day.  But you must remember, I always love you, you're the sun in my heart, even you are die, but you stilling shining.  First I cry is for you, when you get falt.  I yelled at my best oil friend Jonathan.  I do everything for you."

     The rabbit cry: "L.B.T. honey, I love you.  I'll be along.  I'm sorry to catch you like this.  Bye, honey!"            [Peggy.]

 

2) When the rabbit's soul gripped L.B.T.'s neck, L.B.T. said: "I'm not L.B.T.!" 

     "So who is L.B.T.?" the rabbit said.

     "L.B.T. is the boy who run away, I'm Jonathan!"

     "But you have lobo!"

     "It's not lobo, it's feet only."

     "Okay, don't run, L.B.T.!"

     And the soul ran away after Jonathan.

     "How about Jonathan?" Steven asked.

     "Who bird he?" L.B.T. said.

     So Jonathan is die.  [Nick.--But this version can't be the correct one, since it isn't true that Jonathan died.  He shows up again in the next chapter!  Just look there and see! --Ed.]

 

3) "Ho--my God!  Please fun wo drow, Mrs. Rabbit!" L.B.T. said.

     "No--you should give me your Lobo!" the rabbit soul said.

     And that stupid L.B.T. ask her, "How can I do? Tell me."

     "Oh--you can take a knife, to cut it!" the rabbit said.

     ...   [Annie. --This version, it seems, is not quite finished. --Ed.]

 

4)--

 

Steven: Help!  Help!  Who can help L.B.T.?

Jonathan: Good bye.  I have to go.

L.B.T.: Don't go.  I need your help.

Steven: Rabbit!  L.B.T.'s robo is not delicious.  I think his sister's robo is very delicious.

Rabbit: Really?.....

L.B.T.: Oh!  You can talk.

Steven: Yes!  Yes!  His sister's robo is very good.

Rabbit: I don't believe that.

L.B.T.: Don't pulled me and let me go.  I will give my mother's robo to you.

Rabbit: I think this is not a good idea.

Steven: God bless you.  AMEN.

L.B.T.: Robo God please to help me.  Give me power.

(Suddenly L.B.T. become to a Robo Superman.  And he kicks it.)

Rabbit: Oh....!  I hate you.  Oh.....!   [Jonathan.]

 

5) "Let me go, please don't get me," said L.B.T..

     Rabbit soul said: "No.  You are an unfaithful male lover.  I hate you."

     L.B.T. loud said: "No, no, no.  I'm not an unfaithful male lover.  I love you.  I love you!"

     "Stop, stop, I don't want to listen," said Rabbit.

     L.B.T. said, "I love you, believe me."

     "Really?  You love me?"

     "Yes.  Yes," said L.B.T..

     The Rabbit soul were cry and said: "Ok!  You go."

     L.B.T. were run and run.  

              [Ann.]

 

6)--

 

7 Sentences

 

1. "L.B.T, you don't love me," rabbit soul said.

2. "No, I really love you?" L.B.T said.  (But he didn't love rabbit, he had a new girlfriend named L.B.B.)

3. "No, you are lie, so you must be die!" rabbit said.

4. "Help me!  Jonathan and Steven!" L.B.T said.

5. "Sorry, I can't help you.  Because you don't love her.  If I lie, I will be die too, you know?" Jonathan said.

6. "L.B.T"  "Let go!" rabbit said.

7. "NO, No, no.......!  Where is L.B.T?"  Jonathan and Steven will........???

      [Conan.]

 

7) Steven gave the rabbit two lobos, but she says "I don't want!"

     So L.B.T. says "You don't want these lobos, but I give you my two lobos ok?"

     She says "No!  I don't want lobos!"

     And Steven found a handsome rabbit soul to give the rabbit.  She says "He is very handsome, but I only want L.B.T.!"

     Then L.B.T. says "Lili!  I only love you, I will not have another wife!  Trust me!  Lili, I love you!"

     She says "Is it true?"

     L.B.T. says "Yes, Lili."

     She says "Oh, L.B.T., I love you, too."

     Then Lili's soul went back to her grave.  Finally, Steven and L.B.T. went home.  [Ariel.]

 

 

Chapter XII.

 

Hi, everyone.  This is Jonathan here.  And I want to tell you: that day with Miss Liao and the Rabbit Ghost--that was the worst day of my life!  I never want to do that again: never ever!

     But it was all my fault--I have to admit.  First I didn't bring the cross, and that's why Miss Liao wanted me to stay in her office.  Then I tripped and killed L.B.T.'s rabbit.  So L.B.T. had to bury her.  And so the ghost came out.  I'm sorry, Steven, L.B.T.  So forgive me.

     After that bad day with Miss Liao and the Rabbit Ghost, Steven and I had to go to L.B.T.'s house to have a meeting.  We three decided we had to make a new plan to fight against the vampires, and we decided meeting at L.B.T.'s house was the safest.  It was May 9th that we had our meeting.

     That night, Steven and I met together and walked to L.B.T.'s address.  When we rang at the door, L.B.T.'s mother opened it.  She said: "You two look really foolish, you know?"  I said: "Thank you, Mrs. Lobo."

     We went into the living room, and we say many pictures of the family of L.B.T. and a sculpture of L.B.T.'s great-great-great-grandfather.  It was a man like a big radish, his whole body was white.  And the sofa they had, it was shaped very strangely, like a salad bowl.  Then I saw a newspaper on the coffee table: *The Vegetable Times*.  I'd never seen that newspaper before in my life.

     L.B.T.'s mother called for L.B.T. and then went back into the kitchen.  We could see her in there dancing around with her knife and fork.  Then she started singing a song:

 

I love my Lobo,

My little Lobo,

The whitest in the world.

 

I love my Lobo,

My little Lobo,

Oh Lobo come to me...

 

I thought it was the craziest song I'd ever heard.  Why didn't L.B.T. come out and meet us?

     I needed to go to the bathroom, and when I went in there I saw a large uncanny Lobo lying in the bathtub.  I thought it was just a vegetable, maybe it was in there being pickled, but then it asked me: "Who are you?  What are you doing in my house?"

     I was very scared: "I'm Jonathan," I said.  "I'm L.B.T.'s friend."

     "I'm L.B.T.'s father," he said, "and I'm taking a bath now."

     "I'm sorry," I said, and ran out of the room.

     When I got back to the living room, no one was there, and Mrs. Lobo told me they were in L.B.T.'s bedroom.  So I went toward the back, where the bedrooms were, but I went into the wrong room.  It was a kind of study room with two desks in it.  On L.B.T.'s desk I found a letter.  I picked it up and saw it was addressed to Peggy.  It said:

 

Dear Peggy:

     I love you.  Though my lobo leg is not the best, still I'm handsome, don't you think?  I love you, Peggy!  I'm tired of my carrot girlfriend.  What can I do?

      Love Forever,

                L.B.T.

 

I started laughing at the letter and then suddenly L.B.T. was behind me. 

     "Hey, what are you doing!" he yelled, tearing the letter from my hand.  "This is my study room.  Why are you looking at my letters?"

     "Uhh... uhh..." I said.

     "We are meeting in the bedroom," said Steven from the door.  "C'mon."

     In the bedroom, I saw L.B.T.'s bed and his other desk and his pictures.  They were all very strange.  On his desk, I noticed a picture of a strange orange-colored girl.  I went over toward it.

     "What are you looking at now?" L.B.T. said angrily.

     "Who is this?" I asked.

     "Her name is H.L.B.," he said.  "She is my girlfriend."

     "Why does she have green hair?" I asked.  But L.B.T. didn't answer me.

     How can he love such an ugly girl? I thought then.  Maybe he is even more stupid than me.  No.... Impossible.

     But at that moment I felt sorry for L.B.T.

     Then we all sat down and started to talk seriously about the vampire problem.  Steven had some very stupid ideas, I had a very good idea, and L.B.T. had an idea that wasn't as good as mine.  I started trying to convince them my idea was the best when we heard a strange noise coming from the window.  It sounded like something thumping or batting lightly against the glass.  We went to the window to look and...  Oh, my God!  There were bats there, seven of them, and they looked like Peggy, Ann, Nick, Annie, Ariel, Lillian, and Conan.  They were all flapping against the windows and laughing.

     "Come out!" they said.  "We won't bite you.  C'mon!"

     "Steven, come out!" said the Annie bat.  "Come out!"

     "Oh, my God!" said Steven.

     "L.B.T.!" the Peggy bat said.  "L.B.T.!  I know you love me.  Come here, out on your balcony.  I want to kiss you!"

     The other bats all laughed then, and showed their little teeth.

     "Jonathan, I don't love Weber," said the Ann bat.  "I love you now.  Please, let me kiss you.  Tonight!"

     Finally L.B.T. closed the drape, and after ten more minutes the noise went away.

     All of us stayed at L.B.T.'s house that night.  And in the morning, the three of us agreed on a new plan to get rid of the vampires forever.             [Jonathan, Nick.]

 

 

Chapter XIII.

 

It is a fact commonly known in nearly every country of the world that the Taipei Municipal Teacher's College Elementary School has student dance performances on Tuesday afternoon.  The teachers and students of the school, along with crowds of international visitors, gather outside in the playground to watch, upon the stage before them, the various troupes of student dancers.  The dancing starts at 2:45 and Annie Lin is usually the emcee.

     My name is Drake, and I am Steven's older brother.  I was there that Tuesday to see the dances for the first time because my crazy little brother Steven wouldn't let me go to sleep the night before until I promised I would come. 

     "There is going to be something very important tomorrow," he said to me, pulling on my pillow.  "You have to come.  You will see I am right."

     I was pretty confident Steven was talking about something related to his assertions that there were vampires in the school, a claim I didn't buy in the least.  Steven, I knew, was always telling crazy stories.

     Jonathan, L.B.T. and Steven had their trap set.  Everything was moving according to plan.  This is what Steven told me as I stood there in the hot sun waiting for the Big Event to happen.  The first group of girl dancers from the younger grades was just finishing their dance on the covered stage, and soon Jonathan (the best dancer in the whole school, people said) would do his solo dance.  After the solo dance would come "the vampires."

     "They're all friends now," said Steven.  "All the vampires from our class.  They'll even do this dance performance together."

     Jonathan's dance was very wild and modern.  I thought it was a very strange dance, but that was not important.  I knew about Jonathan, and if he was a friend of my brother I wouldn't be surprised by anything he did.  Both Jonathan and that L.B.T. boy were pretty strange, I thought.  That L.B.T. boy even had kind of strange skin; it had an odd texture, and he always smelled like a grocery store.  Maybe his parents own a grocery store, I don't know.

    I love my little brother Steven, it's not his fault he is so weird, but I'd always wished he wouldn't have such weird friends too.  Anyhow, I was in for a surprise that day.

     When Jonathan came back from the stage sweating, he talked with L.B.T. a minute, and then I saw L.B.T. drag a large grey suitcase from behind a pile of chairs.

     "I hope you don't have guns in there," I said to Steven.

     But Steven looked very nervous and very serious. 

     "This is it," he said.  "If this doesn't work, then we have to move to another school."

     "I hope you don't have guns in that suitcase," I repeated. 

     "Don't worry.  They're not guns," Steven said.

     I watched the stage, waiting for the "vampires" to start dancing.  Soon they came out, all dressed in black.  There were nine of them, I think, and two of them were foreign boys, twins.  When they came on the stage, some people in the audience applauded, but one woman, not far away from us, her behavior was quite eccentric.  She stood up and started applauding very loudly, clapping her hands and trying to get the whole audience to join her.  She even started whistling with two fingers in her mouth, until finally a man came up to her to calm her down.

     "That's Miss Liao," said Jonathan.  "She's one of the vampires.  Can you see how strange she behaves?"

     "Is she a teacher?" I asked.

     "Yes, she's our math teacher," said Steven.  "She tried to bite Jonathan last week, but we saved him at the last minute."

     What was it all about? I wondered.  Was there really maybe some problem at the school?

     Then the music came on, a kind of slow organ music, almost like church music.  As it slowly got faster, the dancing of the group on stage became stranger and stranger, almost as if they were in a kind of a trance.  And that math teacher stood up again too, and started swaying back and forth to the music.  It was very strange, and I could see that many people in the crowd were starting to get uneasy.

     The music became faster and faster, still organ music though, and suddenly I started to notice that the dancers on stage were doing things that seemed almost impossible.  I could see that some of them were dancing just above the ground--their feet didn't even touch the ground!

     "How do they do that?" I asked Steven.  "Do they have suspension lines or something?"

     "I don't know," he said, his eyes fixed on the stage.  "They're floating in the air!  Look!"

     "Yeah, but how do they do it?" I asked again.

     "This is the first time we've seen them dance," said Jonathan.  "We don't know how they do it.  They're vampires though.  They have some kind of power."

     I looked around at the audience.  It was obvious they were surprised too.  Some people were talking to each other and pointing, with confused expressions.  Others had their mouths slightly open, and they looked afraid.  I was starting to become afraid too.

     "What is going on here?" I said.

     But neither Steven nor his two friends replied.  Only L.B.T. leaned down and opened the suitcase.

     The dance came to an end, and the audience was almost silent.  It seemed that nobody knew whether to clap or run away.  But then the math teacher, Miss Liao, began applauding and whistling again.  And some others joined her.  Finally almost the whole audience was clapping, and the dancers began making exaggerated bows on the stage.

     "Let's go," said L.B.T.

     He took from the suitcase three water bottles, giving one to each of his friends.  They were the kind of water bottles that have a short hose attached to the end, and can spray quite a distance.  Then Steven and L.B.T. went forward toward the stage, approaching it from opposite sides.  Meanwhile Jonathan worked his way down a row behind the math teacher, who was clapping crazily, almost as if she'd lost her mind.

     When they got to the stage, Steven and L.B.T. raised up the water bottles and blasted the dancers with with water.  What I saw then was actually unbelievable.  The instant the water hit one of the dancers there came an explosion of smoke followed by a kind of bloodcurdling screech.  I saw the smoke rising off of all of them as they writhed around on the stage, and Steven and L.B.T. kept on spraying.  Finally from the middle of the group a furry brown animal was visible, and it flopped up into the sky and flew off.  It was a large bat!  Then there was another bat, and another, all flying away from the stage with a squeal.  The audience around me was screaming, and I heard the terrible screech off to my right too.  It was the math teacher, she was burning!  Jonathan was spraying her with the water and she was disappearing in the same kind of smoke.  A bat flew up into the air from where she'd been standing.

     I looked back at the stage, and L.B.T. was standing on it, kicking around the piles of wet black clothes that had been worn by the dancers.  They were empty now.  They vampires had all flown away.  Then Steven was up on the stage too, waving at everyone in the audience to sit back down and be quiet.  But the audience didn't sit back down.  They were still screaming, and many of them were trying to get away.  Eventually both L.B.T. and Steven left the stage, and they were surrounded by a large group of teachers.

     So it was true what my brother had been telling me.  There really were vampires in his school!  And it was only Steven's courage, his courage and that of his two friends, that saved the school from being completely taken over.  My brother is crazy, I still know he is, but sometimes I should listen to him even so.  Maybe sometimes he says things that are true.

 

Chapter XIV.

 

Hello, this is Conan here.  That attack with the holy water, that all happened last year now.  I don't know where they got the holy water from, but of course it was terrible for us vampires.  I still have a scar from the burns on my neck.

     We are alright though.  We are all in Taichung now.  After we flew away from the school, we met together in Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Park, and we decided we had to leave, because everyone knew we were vampires.

     We've opened a business in Taichung, and it is working well.  It is called KTV Kastle, and it looks like a big castle.  Miss Liao is the manager, and we all work there serving customers.  The good thing about it is that often customers get drunk, so we can bit them and drink their blood.  The number of vampires is increasing every day in Taichung.

     Hans and Gunther are still with us.  They do a singing performance in the Kastle sometimes.  They sing old German songs, and it is very fun. 

     Hans and Gunther were very upset after we first moved down here to Taichung, because when we left Taipei they couldn't find the Beast.  He came to the dance performance at the school, and when the attack happened, he got scared and ran away.  So Hans and Gunther left Taipei without him.  But it's okay now, because they finally found him.  He was working for a Hess school as an English teacher.  So they invited him to come down to Taichung, and now the Beast is with us in the Kastle.  While Hans and Gunther sing their German songs, the Beast shows off his muscles on the stage.

     Sometimes I miss people back in Taipei, but I have no choice.  If I go back there, I will be attacked by everyone, because everyone knows I'm a vampire.  So I have to stay here and work. 

     The Countess Broch is coming to visit next week.  We have to clean up the guest room and get ready for her.  I don't know if we will like her or not.  From what Hans and Gunther say, she is too strict and she loves money too much.  Anyway, she will only stay for two weeks; then life, or "living death," I mean, can return to normal.    

     It was fun entertaining you all with this strange story.

 

    

 

***APPENDICES REGARDING JONATHAN***

 

Appendix I:

 Very Foolish

 

The question of Nuclear Power Plant Number 4--should Taiwan build it or not?--has many people thinking about the problems of nuclear waste.  Peggy wrote the following dialogue between Steven and Jonathan.

 

S: Hi, Jonathan!  How are you?

J: Hi, fool number two!  I am fine.

S: Tell me, Jonathan, are you a vegetarian or a meat-eater?

J: I am a vegetarian, of course.

S: I see.  What kind of vegetables do you usually eat?

J: Oh, Steven, you already know that.  I eat shoes, books, hair, clocks, and Mickey Mouse dolls.

S: Yes, I know.  I mean, what kind of special things?

J: Special?  Oh, yes...  Sometimes I eat nuclear waste.  But it is more expensive than the others, so I just eat it once a week.

S: Do you support one man having five wives?

J: Yes, Steven.  And I know you'll say yes too.  It would be great to have five wives.

S: Jonathan, listen--outside your house there are many people protesting about you.

J: Are you sure?  Why?

S: Because the radiation from your body is hurting your neighbors?

J: Oh, really?  I thought those people came for my birthday party.

 

 

 

Appendix II:

Also Quite Foolish

 

Alphabetical List of

Characteristics of Jonathan

 

ANIMALS, imitates various species of, accompanied by characteristic noises.

 

ANSWERS, rarely gives.

 

BATHROOM, "Teacher may I go to the...."  Asks three times during any given class.

    

BOTTOM, purchased at Sogo.

 

COLA, spills dribbling from mouth.

 

DICTIONARY, never consults.

 

ERIC, pays scant attention to.

 

FACE, often twisted in grimace.

 

GRAMMAR, lacking.

 

GIRLS, teases, fawns on, harrasses, dreams upon.

 

HILARITY, ever dwells in.

 

INTELLIGENCE, possessing better than average; unwilling to exercise.

 

INTERRUPTIONS, a fountain of.

 

JACKET, leaves behind if not reminded.

 

KISSES, would readily give to everyone, policemen included.

 

LAUGHTER, unprovoked, uncontrollable.

 

LIPS, full, luxuriant.

 

MOUTH, never closed, not even in sleep.

 

NEIGHBOR (Ann), pinches, steals pens from, whispers to.

 

ORATIONS, penchant for delivering; never prepared.

 

PENIS, refers to as "bird."  (Ex.--  Jonathan: "Oh, no!  My bird escaped!  It's flying in the sky."  Nick: "Look!  Over there!  Jonathan's bird is flying over the building!")

 

QUESTIONS, poses prying, irrelevant, ridiculous.

 

REPORT CARDS, disposes of surreptitiously.

 

SENTIMENTALITY, shows inordinate tendency to.

 

TEACHERS, treats as friends, delights, exasperates.

 

UNDERPANTS, writes short compositions regarding.

 

VICES, many, flagrant.

 

VIRTUES, many, evident.

 

WATERMELON, head shaped like one.

 

XEROXED WORD LISTS, loses, drops on floor, steps upon.

 

XYLOPHONE, parodies practice of by thwacking pen on teeth.

 

YELLOW, favorite color.

 

ZOO, frequently evoked as possible place of birth in teacher's rebukes.

 

 

 

Appendix III:

Etc., Etc.

 

 

Students:

 

Our first LIFE OF STEVEN will have small illlustrations.  Draw the following pictures on white paper.  Follow the instructions I gave you in class.

 

1. Steven and his alien friend (L.B.T.)

2. A vampire's castle (Nick)

3. Mickey Mouse takes Jonathan's clothes (Lillian)

4. Godzilla eats Steven (Ariel)

5. Annie misses Steven (Ariel)

6. Rover chases the dog Steven (Jonathan)

7. Steven and the ostrich, newt, polar bear, etc.... (all)

8. Steven's four wives, with Miao-Ling (Peggy)

9. Steven sees a snake in Spain (Annie)

10. The Broch castle on a mountain (Ann)

11. Hans and Gunther (Conan)

12. Angry countess Broch (Peggy)

13. Hans and Gunther sell Kitty (Lillian)

 

Picture must be the right size.  Picture should have a small caption. 

 

   

----------------------

 

 

Announcement!

 

 

Dear Parents of Students in the Friday English Class:

 

After more than one year of planning and writing, our long vampire story LIFE OF STEVEN is finally finished.  This story is quite funny, and shows the creative ability of all the students in the class.  It could be called a short novel, so it is a great accomplishment.  An 80-page story written in English!

 

I would like to print the story at a print shop.  The book will be illustrated.  The copies will cost ______ each to print.  I think each student should buy at least one copy.  But I also think the book is a good present for any friends or relatives that read English.  It can also be used as part of the student's English resume--if in the future they need to prove they are capable in English.

 

Let me know how many copies you would like, and I will add up the orders and tell the print shop.

 

Sincerely,

 

Eric

 

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