AN ACT OF VALOR By Destin & Ahn, both age 10

Dempsey awoke in a hospital. Lights dimmed the hallway. Nurses strapped bandages around his arm.  His buddies from the SMU unit sat on a bench outside his room’s window. The biggest one, Campo, shuffled into the room and asked, “Are you feeling any better?” 
“Huh? What?” Dempsey replied. He lay in a bed with machines that beeped all around him.
“What happened to you?”
“Long story.”
Dempsey and the other men from his unit parked their jeeps in front of a gate. Guards unlocked it. The soldiers opened the car doors and stepped out. Captain Dunn escorted them to a table behind the gate. He laid maps across it.
“Alright, Marines!” Dunn said. “If we’re going to make it through this place, it requires some teamwork here! Here are the layouts for safe houses in case anything happens. We need to get to the parking lot, and to do that, we need to get across the street.” 
Campo flung his RPG-7 over his buff shoulder. “Pfthhhh!” he said. “It’s just across the street!” 
“Then let’s GO!” Zankie said.
They took off into an alley. Above their heads clothes hung on lines attached to a balcony. Dempsey looked to the right, a dumpster blocked a doorway. “Breaching!” Dempsey said. Campos pushed the dumpster to the left, his sweat dripped onto the ground. Dempsey kicked the door. Its screws scattered all over the floor. A cloud of smoke hovered in the air. 
“Dude, it reeks in here!” Zankie said.
They continued up the stairs.
Dunn drew out his PITHON. His sweat dripped onto the wooden staircase. His feet shuffled up the steps. “Watch your corners,” he whispered.
Dempsey groaned and rubbed his arm, opening the door to the roof of the building. As he took his first step onto the pebbly cement, a bullet hit the ground in front of them.
“Sniper!” Dunn said. “Take cover.”
Dempsey and Campos rolled to the lip of the roof. “Hey Campos,” Demspey said. “Throw me your RPG-7.”
“But I want to use it,” said Campo. 
“Just give me it to me or I’ll fire you and you’ll go home with your face broken.”
Campo tossed the weapon to Dempsey.
“On my count of 3,” Dempsey said, “suppress that hotel with fire. Three… Two…. One…. SUPRESSING!!!” 
Everyone in the unit pulled his trigger. Bullets flew, wind carried away dust. Finally, Dempsey got a good aim, and fired. Boooom. The building crashed to the ground and dust hovered in the air. “Now that’s how we do this in my world!”
Zankie’s radio buzzed. “Enemies coming on your six,” Mason said. “Get out of there!” 
“Can’t go out the roof door,” Campo said. “Once we go through that door and try to get out the main entrance we’d be smoked.” 
Dempsey handed the RPG-7 to Campo. 
“Freaking boy scouts,” Dunn said.
“So much for multi-channels chat…” Campo said. 
“Sometimes don’t you just wonder how the heck you ended up in the marines?” Zankie said, shooting his grappling hook. It caught the edge of the building next door. Rubble crashed to the ground below it. One at a time, the men slid down the rope to the ground. 
Zankie’s radio buzzed again. “Saber team, evac is on the north of your position. Get there quick; Warhammer out.”
They crossed the street. A bullet hit the gravel. “Evacuate this area,” Zankie said. “You guys take the JEEPS. They’re in the safe house.”
A grenade rolled across the street onto the sidewalk. Black smoked through the air. Another bullet hit the gravel. Campo looked up. “Sniper three o’clock.” He rolled to the doorway of a Chinese Market. BANG.
Zankie hit the ground, still in the middle of the street. Tears filled his eyes. “Help me GOD.” Blood oozed from his stomach. 
“Stay with me,” said Dempsey, sprinting toward Zankie’s wet, crimson body. A sniper shot Dempsey’s wrist. He hit the sidewalk in front of the Chinese Market.
“Campo, go get them!” Dunn yelled from behind the market’s sidewalk stand. “I’ll keep a suppressive fire!” Peaches rolled out of their bin, onto Dunn’s shoulders.
Campo laid Dempsey on the waxed floor of the safe-house. “Get a medic over here!” Flies swarmed in the light above their heads. Nurses ran into the building. They kneeled beside Dempsey and clicked open briefcases. Tools filled the case. One of the nurses grabbed a needle and stabbed it into Dempsey, 
  “He’s losing too much blood,” one of the medics said. “Put pressure on that wound.
“For god sakes, hurry. He’s DYING!” Campo said.
For a second, nothing happened. No bullets. No screaming. Dempsey didn’t wake up, Dunn kicked the door open and rushed in. “Did he make it?!” he said.
“No,” Campo said.
“Well, we can’t stay here. This place isn’t going to hold up much longer.”
Campo gave Dunn a slight grin, then his right hook connected with Dunn’s jaw. Dunn hit the ground. He groaned, spitting out blood. One of the medics rushed over to Campo. “Sir, the building is starting to fall apart,” the medic said. “You’ve got to get out of here!” 
Campo left the building, leaving Dunn and Dempsey behind. Warhammer’s voice buzzed through the radio: “The LZ is pretty hot now! Better get here quick! Ground force is hot, so go on top!” 
“On my way…” Campo ran to the fire escape. His feet shuffled up the rungs. His sweat dripped on the metal railing. Campo made it to the roof and opened the door to the stairwell. A helicopter hovered above him.  A ladder unrolled and hit the ground. Campo jumped, his palms locking onto the rope.
“Were to go sir?” the pilot asked. “And where are the others?” 
“What?” the captain said. “You just left him on the roof? This was supposed to be a team,” 
“I had to!” Campo said. “The place was falling apart! Besides, it’s too late now!” 
“Here, I got a beacon signal from that area. I want you and Warhammer to go back there and look for him!”
Campo took out his radio: “Meet me at the pelican in five.”
“Yes, Sergeant,” Warhammer said.
At the safe-house, Warhammer and Campo cleared the rubble but didn’t see Dunn. A voice came from behind.
“Looking for someone?”
Campo turned around. “Dempsey! But… Where’s Dunn?” 
  “I thought you guys were shot down.”
“That’s when you’re wrong my friend.”
Back at the base Captain Keys met Dempsey at the helipad. “Good to see you Dempsey,” the Captain said. “Where’s Dunn?” 
“He didn’t make it.” 
“Well son, things happen in war.” 
Campo headed to the warehouse and checked out some blowtorches and tools. The warehouse door creaked and Dempsey’s head peeked in. “Guess what?” he whispered.
“Huh? Oh. You,” Campo said.
“When you were gone… Zankie said some last words. He said that you were a good friend to have, and for your heroic act, he wanted to give you this.”
Dempsey slid a pouch into Campo’s hand. Campo opened the pouch and inside was Zankie’s pistol with his name engraved on it, his service tag, and a small note. Campo opened it and read it out loud. “I’m gonna be gone for a while, so make sure you take enough vitamins. It’s a long way ahead for you, Sergeant.”
Campo grinned, slipping the note into his pants pocket. Then, he flipped down his welding mask and fired up his torch. Dempsey handed Campo lunch. Campo gestured toward a shelf. “I’ll eat after I finish this. I’m sorry I left you behind.”
“No worries man, like the captain said, things happen in war. I never thought I’d say this, but thanks pal, for being a great friend.” Demsey left, closing the door behind him silently. 
“No problem,” Campo said to himself.
About the Author
Helloooooooooo, I hope you enjoyed my book. Oh, and my name is Destin. I live in San Francisco with my two parents, my sister, and my two dogs. The two things I love doing most are: helping my father at work and playing video games. I’m good at Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars. I could finish that game in less than an hour. When I grow up I want to be an automotive engineer because I like to fix things, and I like to be nurse because I would get to help people who are about to die. I am the only kid I know who eats chips to feel when I’m coughing. It works better than Tylenol even though the chips are bad for you. If I were weather, I would like to be the sun’s heat because when people are feeling really cold, I could help them feel warmer. My favorite book is Trouble in Madagascar because I’m the author and the story is full of tension and I think you would really enjoy that book. I am also the author of To Be or Not To Be,  Goodbye Lofu, and this story, which was actually started by Anh. He wrote the first draft and I wrote the revisions and did the illustrations. The funniest moment of my life was when I was Mrs. Rees’s class, celebrating my friend’s birthday. He smashed his cake into his face and took cream and smeared it all over his mouth. If I could go backward in time I would like to see what I looked like when I was being born. My family comes from Vietnam and I want to go there because I want to experience how hot it is there. Well, I hope you enjoyed my book and I look forward to meeting you. 

THE OTHER DAY By Anh, age 10

Professor Mason dribbled battery acid into a test tube. “Done!” he said, stirring the liquid. He poured the poison into the mouth of a corpse. Its clothes started to rip and the smell of rotten eggs spread around the room. The body’s stomach ripped open and its guts fell out. Its eyes turned red and its teeth yellowed. Blood came out from beneath its toenails. Black liquid dripped from its nose. Its skin peeled off in rectangular pieces. Its arms grew and its fingernails popped off. Its muscles looked like they were going to explode. The creature choked Professor Mason and punched him hard in the stomach.

Ellis woke up in a store and didn’t know how he got there. Cracks zig-zagged across the walls. Shoes lay in jumbled piles. He pushed objects and shelves out of his way and exited out the door. No one was outside. He walked down the street. Wrecked houses lined the sidewalks. He heard footsteps from far away. He looked back; shadows rushed toward him and screams followed. He ran as fast as he could, and at the end of the street, he met a soldier. He had a cigarette in his mouth and was dressed in dirty cammies. A two-barrel shotgun was strapped to his back and a dark green beret sat on his head. The soldier yelled, “Get behind me!” He threw a grenade at the shadows. Arms blew into the air and legs scattered across the street. A piece of skin landed on Ellis’ shoulder.

“This is not where to talk,” the soldier said. “Come to my cabin. It’s safer. By the way, I’m Jack.”

Ellis followed the soldier on foot. They headed down Anza and turned on Geary. All Ellis could see was destruction. There were cars with broken windows. Traffic lights flashed and marine jeeps burned. Jack’s cabin was like an old campground shelter with white flowers planted in the backyard. The place was painted dark brown, and the smell of coffee lingered in the air as they approached.

“What’s your name?” the soldier said.

“I don’t remember anything….” Ellis shook his shoulders and answered awkwardly.

“Well here, take this Desert Eagle. I don’t have it loaded. You’ll have to find ammo as you go.”

Ellis looked around. It was dead quiet and dark. There was a sofa next to the TV. The soldier said, “I’ll call you Kevin, okay? I can’t just call you an unknown guy. My name is Jack. Now get some sleep.”

The next morning, Jack and Ellis ate some leftover onion rings. A radio turned itself on. If you survived the zombie apocalypse, please come to our base located in City Hall. We got food and weapons.

“Should we go?” Ellis said.

“Well,” Jack said. “We got nothing to lose! I know where to find a car but it might be too risky…”

They grabbed their guns and tiptoed outside. Jack whispered, “See that parking lot? When you see zombies coming, just yell my name ok?”

Jack crept to the parking lot and approached a white SUV at the corner of the lot. It had minor scratch marks and strips of flesh lying across the hood, but he didn’t mind. Shadows moved across the cement. “Jack!”

Zombies limped from behind a tall building and some of them crawled. Some were missing legs, blood dripped slowly and dried as they hauled their torsos behind them. Jack hotwired the car and drove out of the lot. Ellis jumped in and they sped away. Ellis noticed there was a big black sports bag in the back of the car. He leaned over and opened the bag. His eyes shined with amazement.

“Whatcha’ got there?” Jack asked.

“What does it look like? It’s a bag full of bullets!” Ellis replied, loading his gun and shoving magazines into his pockets.

They arrived at City Hall and drove into the basement level garage. They grabbed their guns and got out of the car. Zombies came from everywhere: from under cars and up from the sewer. Jack pulled out the shotgun slung over his back and Ellis slid his Desert Eagle from his pocket. Bullet holes flickered across the walls. A group of soldiers guarding the door shot at the zombies. Jack and Ellis hustled up the stairs and closed the door.

The next morning Jack, Ellis and all the others at the base took their guns and went into the mini-café on the second floor. Toothpicks and straws lay on the floor. Ellis took a mug from the kitchen and poured hot chocolate mix into his cup. He looked inside as the marshmallows swirled, making him sleepy. Suddenly, screaming came from outside. Fists burst through the windows. Bodies ripped in half and heads separated from torsos. Red and green blood pooled on the cold, white floor.

About the Author

Oh hi! My name is Anh and I’m ten years old. I live in San Francisco with my mom and sister. I like to sit on my couch and pwn people in Call of Duty: Black Ops! I’m also very good at art and doodling. My future will be awesome because I will become an artist. I’m different from other kids because I rarely go outside and I don’t climb monkey bars. If I had one wish, I would wish for my school to burn down so I could stay home all day sleeping and watching Spongebob! Just Kidding! What I really wish is that my dad would live with me and my mom and sister because right now he lives in Vietnam. The Other Day is my first published book.