DR. Z’S ADVENTURE PARK
The Carvers stood first in line for the grand opening of the Dragon Tooth, advertised as the greatest thrill ride in amusement park history. Samantha gazed back at the zigzag of customers, people of every shape, size, and color. She couldn’t believe her good luck.
The word “excited” didn’t exactly describe Sam’s feelings. She was ecstatic, overjoyed, tweaked, gonzo, completely over the moon. Her hands fluttered like hummingbirds, darting up to her thick black hair, drifting skyward, then diving down into her pockets.
Who could blame her? Sam was visiting her favorite place on the planet: Doctor Z’s Adventure Park. No one loved amusement parks more than eleven-year-old Sam Carver. She loved everything about them. The crowds, the food, the noise —music blaring, bells dinging, children screaming,
"I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, WE ALL SCREAM ON ROLLER COASTERS!"
Sammy loved the buttery smell of popcorn that filled her nostrils, the sweetness of cotton candy, the grease of hot dogs and burgers. But most of all, she loved the rides, every single one—the Whirligig and the Wheel of Wonder, the Windseeker and Skyscreamer, the Gravitron and Richochet and Cloud Chaser. She worshipped the Wall of Death and dearly loved the Spiral of Doom.
For Sam, there was only one rule: the scarier, the better. And after each ride, Sam would cry: “Again, again, again!”
She checked—once again, for the 100th time—for the thick, cardboard ticket in the front pocket of her dress. She bounced on her heels in anticipation. Her eyes lifted to watch a red-tailed hawk glide through the clouds. Bird in the sky, she thought, I know how you feel.
“I’m sooooo excited!” Sam told her parents. “I feel like a bottle of soda, all fizzy inside, ready to pop.”
“Try not to explode,” her father said. “That might be messy.”
Mrs. Carver looked up from her folded newspaper. She enjoyed word games, and completed the crossword puzzle every morning. Sam liked to help her mother solve the Daily Jumble and play with anagrams, where you rearranged the letters of one word to form new words.
She pretended her own name, Samantha, was an anagram.
A HATS MAN
ASH MAN AT
HAM ANT AS
Oh well, it was a disappointing list.
Sam was certain that today was going to be the best day of her life. She turned to her parents and beamed a smile of pure sunshine. “Thanks for bringing me, Mom and Dad. I can’t believe how happy I am.”
Months before, Sam had entered a contest by clicking on a link and, amazingly, despite the odds, actually won a prize. Her reward? A ticket to be among the first customers to enjoy the Greatest Thrill Ride Ever Created. But was Sam brave enough?
Oh yes, surely she was. Nothing frightened Sam Carver. Nothing, that is, except for dentists, bats, and homework. The usual things. Dentists, of course, with their fat fingers fumbling in your mouth. But bats creeped Sam out the most, with their leathery wings and tiny teeth and weird human faces.
Besides, homework scared everybody!
Text copyright © 2013 by James Preller.
Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Iacopo Bruno