Treasure Trove Troopers by Aarush, Anusha, Calista, Darcey, Eshani, Janasi, Jessica, Louise, Sahil, Sumedha and ZakiIn On The Page
It was a stormy Saturday afternoon and Sally and Joe were indoors playing their favourite game, Treasure Trove Troopers, on the PX-Switch5000. Although they didn’t mind rainy days, they didn’t like this one. The thunder clapped so loudly, they weren’t able to concentrate on where all the gold coins were that they were meant to be collecting, and they kept bumping into obstacles and losing lives. As the wind howled down the chimney and raindrops the size of bullets hammered at the window panes, the children gazed longingly at the paradise island that was the setting for their game.
“How I wish we were there instead,” sighed Joe. “All that golden sand, all that sunshine, all that clear blue sky…”
“All those dreaded obstacles, you mean! What about the Watersnake Lagoon, the Quicksand Swamp and the Mischievous Monkey Coconut Grove?”
Joe busily hammered at his control pad, ducking and diving, as a tribe of Monkeys aimed fire at him from a thicket of palm trees. “I guess you do have a point, Sis!” he whistled.
Just as Joe completed Level Three, collecting several pieces-of-eight credits for his efforts, a bolt of lightning cracked across the sky and a violent gust of wind pushed open the window. A shower of raindrops came spilling through and onto the game console. The device began to short-circuit, fizzing and sending up a spatter of sparks. The screen glitched and crackled.
“Oh no!” gasped Sally. “It’s gone back to the beginning of the game. It’s wiped all our credits and everything!”
The computer went haywire. The keys started typing by themselves, a strange, endless code in gobbledegook. Blinding flashes, like fireworks, exploded everywhere – glittery swirls of purples and greens whizzed through the air accompanied by popping noises.
To their horror, a force sucked the children into the screen.
“Aaaaah! Help!” they screamed. “Mum! Dad!”
Sally and Joe grabbed onto one another as they were engulfed in a cloud of the darkest black. But this was not the cloud of the storm back home. The wind and rain were no longer to be heard.
Moments later, the darkness cleared and the children found themselves standing in a strangely familiar place. An island of sand, surrounded by a turquoise sea that sparkled like diamonds. The palm trees swayed gently in the warm breeze.
The children rubbed their eyes, but they weren’t dreaming.
“Wh – where…?” stammered Joe.
Sally took in their surroundings more closely and understood. “We’re in the game!”
“How… how are we to get back home?”
A musical intro trilled and a digital timer appeared across the sky – a luminous display, set at: 10:00.
A voice echoed from the clouds. “A-hargh me hearties!”
“It’s Redbeard the Buccaneer!” exclaimed Sally. “It must mean that we have to collect a load of gold coins for his treasure chest. That’s the only way to end the game.”
From the top of a palm tree, a parrot flapped its wings and squawked, “Pieces of eight, pieces of eight. Proceed to Watersnake Lagoon.”
“Game on!” boomed Redbeard’s voice.
The luminous display began to count down: 09:59… 09:58… 09:57… The timer was ticking.
Sally took Joe’s hand, “Let’s get a move on, otherwise it’s Game Over!”
“D… d… do you mean, that if we don’t get Redbeard his coins in time, we could be stuck in the game forever?” gulped Joe.
“I don’t know. But I’m not wasting any more time waiting to find out. Let’s go!” urged Sally.
The desperate duo rushed onwards but skidded to a halt at a lake with rippling waters. An array of cobbled platforms stood within jumping distance.
“Well, ladies first, I guess,” quivered Joe, nudging Sally forwards.
“It shouldn’t be too much of a problem, we’re really good at the game, after all,” said Sally, steeling herself for the first jump.
“Not when you add in the fear-factor,” shivered Joe. “It’s a lot harder when you’re actually in it and the snakes are for real! Go on without me.”
But Sally would not hear a word of it, “I can’t do this alone, and besides, you might get eaten. Just don’t look down,” advised Sally, leading the way.
Joe took a deep breath and followed.
It was easy at first – it was Level 1 after all. They just had to jump from one stepping stone to the next. But then the jumps got harder, the gaps became gigantic and the stones were wobbly and slippery. And, of course, there were those deadly water snakes – with their snakeheads popping out of the lagoon, their forked tongues flickering menacingly.
“Don’t worry. I know the hack for the water snakes,” exclaimed Sally. “They come out every three seconds, you see. That gives us time in between to jump to the next stone.”
They continued on, ignoring the splashes and avoiding the water snakes. They seemed to be doing quite well until…
“Look out!” cried Sally. “It’s MegaMosh!”
The nasty lagoon monster had sneaked up on them and was trying to push Joe off his platform. It almost succeeded too as Joe lost his balance and was about to topple into the lethal lagoon.
Sally reached out and steadied him with her hold, “It’s ok, I’ve got you,” she wheezed.
With just one more gigantic leap, the children found themselves landing back on firm ground.
“Yes!” they cheered. “We’ve completed Level 1. Now to collect the coins.”
Three coins, were suspended in the air before them, twirling like ballerinas. Joe tapped them one by one and with a succession of pings, they transferred to the credit counter beside the timer which now showed: 05:23.
“Time’s ticking away. We’d better hurry on to Level 2,” pressed Joe.
The dynamic duo dashed on, until they reached the Quicksand Swamp. They quivered at the sight of the murky swamp with its insatiable sand that would swallow them whole, given the chance. Hanging above them was a tangle of strong, thick, muscular vines. They’d have to use them to get across.
Now it was Sally’s turn to be hesitant, “I’m rubbish at the vines.”
But this was Joe’s strength. He took a length of vine and used it to tie the two of them together, “Don’t worry Sal, just hold on tight.”
“Whoooooooah!” they chorused as they veered through the air.
It was hard work for Joe – his body ached as he swung himself and his sister across the hungry swamp, but they managed to reach the other side without falling in.
“Woo-hoo!” they squealed as they landed, sending up a cloud of dust.
A collection of coins dangled like decorations from the vines. The children leaped up to touch them and as they did so, each one burst into sparkles and was banked along with the others.
Their ecstasy soon turned to alarm again on noticing the timer which now clocked in at 02:07. Its incessant ticking continued.
Knowing they hadn’t a moment to lose, the children raced on towards the Mischievous Monkey Grove. They soon found themselves face to face with Level 3. Staring straight back at them from the treetops were hundreds of monkeys with expressions of glee written across their cheeky faces.
“We have to cross the jungle of palms whilst being pelted with coconuts,” shivered Joe.
“And there’s just one minute left, now. Let’s do this!” determined Sally.
The monkeys fired coconuts at them like bullets as the children hurtled through Level 3, ducking and diving all the way.
“Quick Joe!” instructed Sally. “Run forwards! Jump up! Duck down! Glide to the left! Shimmy to the right!”
“Yes! We can do this!” persisted Joe.
But those monkeys were tenacious too. And they didn’t just throw coconuts either. There were pineapples, mangoes and papayas raining down relentlessly. SPLAT! A mango slapped Joe in the chest. One life lost.
“It’s ok. We’ve still got two lives left. Just be careful,” warned Sally.
BANG! Sally was struck by one of the coconuts. A direct hit to her head. Another life gone. The concussion rendered her quite dizzy and Joe had to drag her the rest of the way through the palm tree grove, dodging missiles for the both of them, until at last they reached the other side.
“We made it!” cried Joe in triumph.
A trail of coins blinked in the sunlight, so positively that Sally was filled with renewed energy at the sight of them. She tapped them one by one until the credit bank was full.
“This way, Sal,” directed Joe. “Redbeard can’t be far from here.”
They wandered across the island until they reached a sandy cove where Redbeard the Buccaneer awaited them. He stood beside an ornate treasure chest, waving the children over with a robust, “Ahoy there, me hearties!”
The parrot flew in and perched on his shoulder.
“Pieces of eight, pieces of eight,” it squawked.
“Hush now me Pretty Polly,” soothed Redbeard, stroking the parrot’s beak. Then he gave Sally and Joe a toothless smile and grinned, “So, mateys, have you got any treasure for this here casket of mine?”
“It says up there that we’ve banked eighteen gold coins,” ventured Sally, indicating the display.
“Well, shiver-me-timbers, so you has. So you has. That would be the highest score. Congratulations.”
Redbeard unfastened the clasp from his treasure chest and lifted the lid. A trumpet fanfare sounded and the pieces of eight streamed down from the sky and into the casket to join the glittering pile of jewels, goblets and sovereigns that lay within.
“Yo ho ho!” rejoiced Redbeard with a merry dance.
The sky turned black and was filled with an eruption of fireworks, flashing and flickering about the children. They were whisked away in a whirlwind of whizzes, sparkles and stardust.
And almost as quickly as it had begun, the darkness became light and the children found themselves back in their living room once more, the window still banging back and forth in the storm.
They stood in shock, gazing at the computer. On the screen, in flashing lights was written: SUCCESS! Fireworks zoomed and zapped around it. And in the top left-hand corner of the screen, the digital timer display was frozen at: 00:01.
“Phew! That was close!” they both chorused.
“Can you really believe we were actually inside the game?” exhaled Sally.
“I know we were,” replied Joe, uncurling his fist to reveal a shiny gold coin. The souvenir glinted in his palm and would serve as a reminder of their incredible adventure for the rest of their lives. Not that it was something either of them could ever forget.
Sally turned to Joe with a grin and said, “So… what shall we play next then…?”