Another new story by Heer (the author of Adventure in Candy Island) for the young readers, those particularly who like Harry Potter stories! A contemporary interpretation of adventures in the Land of COVID-19. A solution perhaps not scientifically substantiated but definitely more likely to help than the mythical chloroquine!
And talking about special pursuits in the vegetable kingdom, this story reminds me of one of my most adored short stories: The Blue Chrysanthemum by Karel Capek. I guess the pursuit solved serendipitously two different troubles : the one of the body by the former, and by the latter, the one of the soul.
I hope that you will enjoy. Thanks Heer!
The Magic Herb – Photo by Dharmesh Patel, April 20th 2020
The Magic Herb by Heer Patel
Chapter 1 – The Special Find.
Chapter 2 – The Unexpected Meet.
Chapter 3 – Dream Come True.
Chapter 4 – The Kingdom Above.
Chapter 5 – The Quest to Find the Cure.
Chapter 6 – The Way Back Home.
Chapter 1 – The Special Find
Cari Miller was sitting at her white, neatly polished desk and was doing her chemistry homework. She loved chemistry, especially with her 6th grade teacher, Mr. Williams, so she took a while understanding the concepts of the book and what she needed to learn. Cari was a tall girl with twinkling light brown eyes and chestnut brown hair that had streaks of turquoise in the long, flowing hair. She was currently 12 years old, and it was her last year at Silver Sage Elementary, her school, which was in Carson City, Nevada.
Then Cari remembered. Tomorrow, they were going to Universal Studios for spring break. She quickly finished her homework, got up, and packed the last of her stuff in her bag, as they were going to stay in a hotel the whole spring break. Cari was so excited because she really wanted to go to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the rides there. Her least favorite part was waiting until they got there, and they had to drive for almost 9 hours! She didn’t forget to pack her books because she really wanted to win in the contest that her book club, Battle for Books, had started. Her friends at school, Jessy and Laurie, were also in the Battle for Books club. She did a flip onto her bed (she was really good at gymnastics) and landed perfectly. She turned off the lights and went to bed, waiting for the next day to begin…
In the morning, Cari woke up and she jumped out of her bed. She quickly went downstairs happily, to eat her breakfast. She saw her dog, Stella, who was a cute golden retriever and she hugged her fluffy dog before making her way to the kitchen.
“Good morning, Mom” she cheerfully greeted her mom who was making waffles for Cari, “And good morning Dad.”
Cari told her dad who was on the couch reading a newspaper.
“Good morning Cari! You look so energetic this morning! Look, I made your favorite, waffles for breakfast!” replied her mom.
Cari took a deep breath of the delicious waffles that were ready. She grabbed the maple syrup and berries and added them as toppings on her waffle. She sat down at the dining table and dug right into her waffles without a word. When she finished, she put her plate in the dishwasher and helped her mom clean up.
“Cari, are you done packing your stuff so I can put it in the trailer?” asked her dad.
“Yes, you can take my stuff. I’m so excited!” replied Cari. Her dad took her heavy bag, which was mostly full of Harry Potter books and put it in the trailer. Cari, her mom, dad, and Stella all got settled in the trailer and Cari’s dad started driving at 9:00 a.m…
They were driving for a while and Cari got bored. She got out a book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and started reading it peacefully until Stella started whining. Cari petted Stella to calm her down but Stella kept making growling noises. They were soon at a rest area to take a break and because of Stella’s growling. Cari took Stella to the grass and let Stella run free. Immediately, Stella started running towards the bushes and Cari had to run after her. Stella sniffing something, something that she wanted. Cari followed Stella and saw that her dog had found a Chocolate Frog. Cari picked up the Chocolate Frog with great interest because she knew that this Chocolate Frog was from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and each of them included a card of a great witch of wizard from the stories.
Cari opened the wrapper, and threw away the chocolate very carefully so that Stella wouldn’t eat it, and took out the card. She examined the card very carefully: it was a card the shape of a pentagon, with a 3D picture of the great wizard and headmaster Albus Dumbledore. The back of the card said: “Considered by many the greatest wizard of modern times, Dumbledore is particularly famous for his defeat of the Dark Wizard Grindelwald in 1945, for the discovery of the twelve uses of dragon’s blood, and his work on alchemy with his partner, Nicolas Flamel. Professor Dumbledore enjoys chamber music and tenpin bowling.” Cari had remembered this when she had read the first book of Harry Potter.
“Cari, it’s time to go! Bring Stella and come quickly!” called her dad. Cari took Stella’s leash and rushed toward the minivan. They sat in the trailer and started driving again…
Chapter 2 – The Unexpected Meet
Soon, Cari and her family were at their hotel, which had a huge pool, a hot tub, a cafetería, and much more luxury. She put all of her stuff and decided to go to the pool and explore a bit.
“Mom, I’m going to the pool to explore, but I’ll be back at 7:30!” informed Cari to her mom as she went out the door. She walked down the endless hall and turned left. Cari didn’t really know where she was going, so she just kept on winding up in the long hall. Soon, she got lost and looked around to seek help. But, there was no one. Then a lady came, and she looked like she was a custodian, so Cari decided to ask her. Cari walked up to her and saw that the badge on the lady’s shirt read “Margaret”, so she asked,
“Ummm, Miss or Mrs. Margaret? Could you please help me? I am lost and can’t find the way to the pool.”
Margaret smiled and answered, “Of course! Seems like you got a bit lost too much, but I can give you a map. These long, endless halls are quite confusing. Oh, and the pool closes by 8:00!” She handed Cari a map and said goodbye. Cari looked at the map and saw that she had come wandering too far. She headed towards the swimming pool. When she got there, she went to the pool and sat on the edge, dipping her feet in the water. She looked into the water for a while and then she heard a voice.
“Cari?” asked a familiar voice. Cari looked up and saw who it was…
It was Laurie Nelson, her best friend who lived down the street from Cari’s house. Laurie was part of Cari’s book club and in the same class as her, but what was she doing here? She was taller than Cari, and she had eyes as blue as the ocean, blonde hair, and tan skin.
“Laurie, how come you’re here?” questioned Cari in shock and surprise.
“My family is here to visit Universal Studios, especially Harry Potter World! Seems like yours is too! Maybe we could explore Universal Studios tomorrow?” she replied.
“Yeah, of course! That would be really fun! See you soon!” Cari said, excitedly.
They both went to their rooms after saying bye and a big hug. When Cari got to her hotel room, she ate a yummy dinner and told her mom and dad what had happened. They agreed to the invitation that Laurie had given Cari. They went to bed, and soon, all the lights were off. Cari was wondering how it would be to see Universal Studios after dreaming about it for a long time. When she was tired of all that wondering, she soon fell fast asleep…
Chapter 3 – Dream Come True
Cari woke up the next morning, all cheery and jumpy. She saw that her parents had already woken up and were on a phone call.
“…We will be very happy to join you on your trip! See you at 10:00! Bye!” ended Cari’s mom.
“Mom, who were you talking to?” wondered Cari.
Her mom turned to Cari and explained, “Cari, I was talking to Laurie’s mom about exploring Universal Studios together. Why don’t you go to the kitchen and have your breakfast?”
Cari got dressed, then went out of the room, started walking down the hall. Then, Cari remembered the map from yesterday. She took it out from her pocket, then walked to the kitchen. She grabbed a plate, then put a piece of toast, butter, some fruit, and yogurt with granola on the plate. She walked to an empty spot and sat down. Cari started eating peacefully and soon finished. She went back to her room, using the map, careful not to get lost again. When Cari got back, she, her parents, and Stella went out of the hotel and into their car. They drove to the entrance of Universal Studios.
When they got there, Cari took a picture of herself at the entrance and they all waited there for Laurie’s family. When Laurie and her family came, they all greeted each other, and then they walked into the fantasy wonderland. They went on some rides, ate popcorn and watched a movie, played games, and had fun! Then, Cari thought that this was her favorite part, when they went to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Cari was so fascinated because she had read all about Harry Potter and now she was in that world herself. She and Laurie got to explore around, as Laurie also loved the Harry Potter series, and they saw a portkey that was a shoe, a common item used to transport anyone that is touching it to a fixed location. They saw the portkey was glowing, which meant it was about to transport the person to the place they were thinking of. Cari looked at Laurie, and they had one thing in common: they were daring. They nodded and touched the portkey in time. This portkey was different though, as Cari or Laurie did not have to think of anything and the portkey just transported them somewhere…
Chapter 4 – The Kingdom Above
They landed quite softly for a harsh push through the portal from the portkey. Cari looked around and saw that the ground was covered with clouds?! She shivered, brrr… It was cold.
“I wish I had a coat, earmuffs, and boots.” she thought. Suddenly, Cari got what she wanted. Cari was surprised and she looked at Laurie. She had no luck.
“Try imagining what you want or need.” she suggested to Laurie. Laurie tried that and she soon had warm clothing.
They got up and started walking. They saw people around them that were skinny and looked as if they were hovering. There were only a few people and each one of them wore masks on their face.
“Where are we? And why are those people wearing masks?” Laurie inquired.
“I don’t know, but I have a feeling we should wear masks too.” They agreed and thought of a mask. They instantly got masks on their faces.
While walking, they saw an enormous castle that was hovering in the air in front of them. The two walked up to it and went inside…
“Welcome. And may I know who you two are? What are you doing here, you should be inside your house. At least you are wearing a mask.” advised a deep voice.
Cari and Laurie looked around to see the person that had spoken. “W-we are umm… I’m Cari a-and this is Laurie.” Cari stuttered, pointing to Laurie, and continued, “We came from a different world, and we don’t know what you are talking about.”
A shadow emerged from behind them,
“Well, I’m the king of The Kingdom Above. It seems like you came from the world under? Ahh, well, what I’m talking about is the new world pandemic, COVID-19 a.k.a. the coronavirus.” the shadow told them.
When the shadow came out, he was careful to stay far away from the strangers and now he was visible to Cari and Laurie. The king was thin; like the other people they had seen earlier. He had blue skin, and was wearing a gold crown and heavy jewels on his neck and fingers. On his face was a mask, that was quite a frequent sight here.
“COVID-19 is a very dangerous disease and we need to find a way to stop it. Could you two help us with this problem?” asked the king.
“Of course, but we need to know more about it. And how do we go back to our world?” Laurie comforted the king.
“Well, I can make a portal to your world, but this virus has to be destroyed first.” the king assured.
“First, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that spreads by person-to-person contact. It causes coughing, shortness of breath, and fevers. It may cause deaths, too.” the king said gravely, “You need to find the secret ingredient of the cure from the Floating Meadows. You may face problems, but I can trust you to find it. Good luck, and keep a safe distance from each fairy you see.” the king informed them, “Now you must be leaving.” and he handed them a map and a bottle of hand sanitizer.
Laurie took the hand sanitizer and map, and she and Cari examined the map very closely. They saw various places marked in the map, and in the corner, they saw the Floating Meadows. The places were mysterious, such as the Howling Caves and the Cloudy Village.
“You must pass the Stormy Forest, Midnight Mountains and the Lightning Bridge. There must be a guardian there to help you find your way. Of course, they were tested negative.” he added when Cari and Laurie looked at him uncertainly.
“Okay, then we are supposed to go to the Floating Meadows and get the ingredient which is a… And what do we add it to?” Cari asked.
“The ingredient is a magical herb that will help cure any respiratory disease when added to a potion. It is a leaf that looks like mint and its name remains unknown. But you will have to be careful as there are dangerous and good plants in the Floating Meadows. When you find it, bring it to us and I will put it in the cauldron that holds the rest of the ingredients to the cure for everyone.” the king clarified.
Chapter 5 – The Quest to Find the Cure
Cari and Laurie soon left the castle and followed their path to the first place they had to pass through: the Lightning Bridge. They soon found themselves at the Lightning Bridge, which was a huge bridge made of storm clouds.
“How are we supposed to cross the bridge?” Cari wondered. Then, a letter appeared in front of them. Laurie took it and read it out loud,
“As this bridge is made of lightning, there is a time when it is not. Just say ‘foudre disparaître’ and you can cross easily.” Cari looked ahead of her and boldly exclaimed,
“Foudre disparaître!” Cari also went to French class, and she figured that the words that she had just said were french for ‘lightning disappear!’ They quickly crossed the bridge and out on the foggy side of the bridge…
Then the sky became darker and they could start to hear thunder and lightning. Trees began to appear beside them as they walked into the Stormy Forest. Then they saw seven horses galloping towards them in the distance. When the horses reached the two, they stopped. The horses were white and their coats gleamed in the moonlight.
“Climb onto us – we have been sent to guide you through the Stormy Forest, as you are looking for the cure. We can see much better in the dark so you will have no worries, except the entrance.” a horse said in a deep voice.
“Wait, am I imagining this, or did this horse just actually talk?!” pondered Cari.
Cari looked at the forest behind the horses. The horses did have a point, as Cari couldn’t see anything ahead of them.
“Okay, but who are you?” Laurie said after some hesitation.
“We are the Seven Horses of the Skies. I am Moonlight and this is Sunlight. We will be taking you across to the Midnight Mountains. Now you may climb onto us so we don’t waste time.” replied another horse named Moonlight.
Cari climbed onto Moonlight, and Laurie climbed onto Sunlight. The horses started galloping and then soon stopped.
“Why did you stop? We are only at the entrance of the forest.” asked Cari.
“Sorry, but as we said earlier you have to worry about the entrance. You have to solve a riddle in order to get inside because you are strangers to the forest.” Sunlight apologized.
Words showed up on some trees that were bright and luminescent. The words were the riddle for them to pass into and out of the forest. The riddle said:
A precious stone, as clear as diamond.
Seek it out while the sun’s near the horizon.
Though you can walk on water with its power,
try to keep it, and it’ll vanish in an hour.
This riddle was very confusing. “It’s clear as a diamond, you can walk on water with its power, and it will vanish in an hour? Oh, maybe the vanishing part is talking about melting. Well, what melts, is clear, and you can walk on water with its power?” Cari pondered about. When she got the answer, she told Laurie. She agreed with her and asked Sunlight,
“If we know our answer, then what do we do?”
Sunlight replied thoughtfully,
“You announce your answer to the forest itself.”
Cari nodded and looked at the forest. It felt funny to talk to a bunch of trees, but she went for it,
“Ice.” she said.
The words disappeared and the horses trotted forward. They went through the dark forest and onto the other side.
On the other side, there were many giant mountains, and it was very dark on this side. Cari looked at the map and saw this was the final place they had to pass through in order to get the magical herb for the cure. They got off the horses and said goodbye. They had to wait for the other animals to take them across the mountains. Then, when the horses had gone, five giant owls came swooping down at them. They were snowy owls, and their feathers were sparkling in the beautiful midnight moon. The owls landed next to them and bowed at them.
“We are the Five Owls of the Night and we have come to take you across the mountains. You may have to battle a monster, but we will try and get you across safely.” reassured the lead owl.
“So how do we fight the monster? We don’t have any weapons or anything.” asked Laurie.
The owl tossed them each a bag. They each looked inside the bag and saw a fancy stick with swirls and a book.
“This is your new wand. And the book is a spell book, to cast a spell with your wand and destroy the opponent. Just read a couple spells and remember them to cast them later.” the owl remarked. They soon climbed onto an owl’s soft, feathery back and they started flying above the mountains.
Suddenly, arrows started flying towards them. They ducked, and the arrows missed them.
“Oh no! It’s a monster! But don’t worry, it’s small, so it won’t be able to harm you a lot.” a high pitched owl said and then added, “And we are experts at flying.”
Cari and Laurie understood, and took out their wands and spell books. Cari opened to a page in her spell book and tried to find a spell that would help her. She scanned the pages and finally saw the spell she wanted. She had to read how to cast it correctly and she had to look up to dodge arrows that the monster was shooting. When she looked up, she couldn’t see the monster, but when she looked around her, she saw a strange creature shooting arrows on the right of her. The creature was very odd, it was a dog-like creature that was covered in ice and had a pair of wings. Then she went back to her spell. Her spell was a spell that would protect them from harm and they could safely pass. The instructions in the spell book were:
Hold your wand gently in your right hand. Make a tapping, then flicking motions with your wand hand. Make sure you tap towards your target of who you want to cast the spell on. As you do the motions, say the words “protéger nous” and the spell will be cast to protect you and your party.
Cari followed what the spell book had told her and exclaimed the words,
She also realized that the words that she had just spoken meant “protect us” in French. Then, a strip of light burst from her wand and made a bubble shape around the five owls, Laurie, and herself. The owls started flying again and the monster’s arrows were not effective on the bubble at all. It shot many arrows at them and all the arrows bounced off the bubble harmlessly.
“Great job, Cari! That was really cool.” marveled Laurie.
“Oh, you welcome. It seemed pretty easy to me.” Cari responded.
The owls started to fly lower and lower until they landed and the mountains were behind them. They had passed all of the dangerous places and they would reach the Floating Meadows.
“Thank you, Cari.” one of the owls thanked her after they landed, “Now you must walk to the Floating Meadows. There must be something or someone to help you, but be careful, stay away a safe distance from everyone.”
Hearing this, Laurie remembered what the king had given them: hand sanitizer. She gave Cari and herself a squirt of it and as they rubbed their hands together, they could smell the scent of the sanitizer…
They started walking towards the way that the owls had pointed out to them, and it seemed as if the sun was coming out of its hiding. But when they looked back, the sky behind them was as black as coal. Then they came to a pleasant smelling place that was filled with flowers, trees, and bushes of all kinds. The plants and herbs of all kinds were shimmering and they went on forever.
“How are we supposed to find the herb in all of this?” asked Laurie in surprise.
“I don’t know, but there must be some kind of clue in all of this…” replied Cari, looking around.
Then, Laurie remembered what the king had described it as and told Cari. They started searching for a mint-like plant, and they discovered that all the plants had labels by them, describing what it was. They remembered that the king had told them that the ingredient had no name, so they looked for one without a label. They searched and searched for quite a long time, and they tried to do it fast, because they had to go back to their world fast. They didn’t know if their parents were looking for them. Then they gave up looking for the plant.
Suddenly, Cari saw a board with some words on it that said,
“The answer you seek, lies in plain sight before you.” Cari told Laurie,
“Hey, look! The answer lies in plain sight… Could it be our answer?” Laurie read the board and then started pondering about.
“I think that’s it! The plant is probably small, and it’s probably right in front of us! Check for a small mint leaf-like plant in front of you!” she exclaimed once he knew the answer. They crouched down and started searching for the answer in front of them.
Then, Laurie saw something exactly as she thought of it and called Cari over.
“Look Cari! It’s exactly like the one we imagined!” she exclaimed. Cari saw it too and replied excitedly,
“Yeah, and it has no label by it… So it’s probably the one we need.”
She picked the small plant out of the ground gently, and put it in the sack that the owls had given her. Then, they started walking back towards the way they came from.
“How will we get back fast enough?” Laurie asked.
As soon as she said those words, something flying came and started hovering over them. Cari looked up and she saw a magical flying carpet. The carpet came down on the ground next to them and waited for them to get on. Cari and Laurie looked at each other and they could read each other’s minds that they wanted to go on. They got on and made themselves comfortable. The carpet did not move an inch.
“Why isn’t it moving?” asked Laurie.
“I think you have to tell him where you want to go. Since we want to go to the castle…” she looked at the map and announced,
“To the Cloud Castle!” Then the carpet started zooming over the Midnight Mountains, the Stormy Forest, and the Lightning Bridge. Soon, they found themselves over the fluffy Cloud Castle, where their quest had begun.
Chapter 6 – The Way Back Home
The carpet lowered itself down by the entrance of the castle and waited for the two passengers to get down. It waved goodbye to them and flew off. They went inside with their masks on, and went back to the throne room. They saw the king there once again.
“Ahh, you have found the ingredient, I see. Thank you my friends!” the king said as he greeted them from far away, then instructed,
“Now just place it on the ground and back off when I am taking the plant.”
Cari took out the plant and placed it on the ground. She and Laurie backed away and the king took the plant. He walked over to a cauldron on the side of the room, which Cari or Laurie had not seen there before and he put the plant inside the bubbling contents. The contents turned dark green and the king looked satisfied.
“Now, I must distribute this to all of my fairies, and you will be able to go back home, as I promised.”
There was a pedestal in the middle of the room, so the king poured out the soup-like cure into a big container and put it on the pedestal.
“This will teleport a glass of the cure to each fairies and they will get cured.” the king explained, then he took a giant megaphone and declared,
“Attention fairies of The Kingdom Above! There is a glass of the unknown cure in front of your door. You and your household members must each drink a sip of the cure, and you will be instantly cured. And thank Cari and Laurie for this very good deed!”
Cari and Laurie beamed, though no one could see them.
The king waited a few moments then happily said,
“Now let’s get to the farewell part.” He focused on the ground and chanted some mysterious words that sounded like an incantation. A swirling purple oval emerged from the ground.
“Good bye! We will miss you very much. Here, take these. They are cloud lockets, so that you can come back here anytime you want. They only have enough of our clouds for one time, but you can refill it when you are here! Just open it and sprinkle the dust over you.” the king said as he gave them each a locket. They stepped through the portal and stumbled through the darkness…
Then, they were back at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it seemed as if only five minutes had passed.
“Cari, Laurie, let’s go! It’s our turn to go on the Flight of the Hippogriff ride!” Cari’s mom exclaimed, as if everything was normal. Laurie looked like she was thinking the same thing. She shrugged and they started running towards their families. Their masks and coats had disappeared, but they still had their cloud lockets from the king.
“If our world ever gets the outbreak of COVID-19, we can go to The Kingdom Above and get the cure.” Cari grinned.