Home Cool for School The Broken Compass by Alex Phelps

The Broken Compass by Alex Phelps



Alex Smith was definitely not the most popular person ever. No one bullied him; but, no one liked him either. Then, everything turned upside down during one field trip.

I woke up on the bus with someone sitting next to me. “Are you the new kid?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“Oh, hi,” I said.

“Sorry,” he replied.

“For what?” I asked., “No one has sat with me in forever.”

When we got to the dig, it was 11 a.m. so everything was a rush. When we were sifting, the chaperones didn’t notice that I snatched a broken compass from a dirt pile. When I was walking home after school, Zander caught up to me and I showed him the compass. He asked, “How did you get that?” So, I told him and asked if he would like to come over to my house later and see if we could get it to work.

compassWhen Zander got to my house, we went up to my room. “Hey Zander, the tip of the compass needle used to be red and now it is blue,” I said. In Zander’s hurry to get over, he knocked the compass out of my hand. The part of the compass that would attach to a keychain hit the floor and we heard clicking noises. We picked the compass back up to investigate and noticed the key chain part spinning and slowly going inward. All of a sudden, in a blue flash of light we found ourselves in a hole, knee-deep in oyster shells.

Zander asks, “What happened?”

I answer, “I don’t know, I’m at a loss for words.”

Zander says, “I might know where we are. In pilgrim times, they would chuck oyster shells into a hole called an oyster mitten.”

“Yeah, I think you are right. For once I’m glad we went on a field trip,” I replied.

When we manage to scramble out of the hole, we see a village that seems to be made up of log cabins. We decide to walk away from the village because we aren’t sure where we are and we don’t know if the villagers are hostile.

Once we get into a forest and out of sight of the village, we see a man walking hurriedly toward the village. The man has an evil look in his eye, but doesn’t appear to have any weapons. He is short and bulky with a long curly beard and a scar across his right eye.

We decide to follow him so we can see how the villagers act around new people. The villagers don’t take notice of him. But then we hear the man talking, “The plan for mutiny against John Smith is almost ready.”

“How much time left?” the villager asks.

“Three days at most,” the man answers.

“Good, make sure that you will be the explorer, not John Smith,” says the villager.

“We gotta stop him,” says Zander, “Maybe that’s why the compass brought us here.”

“Yeah, probably, but first we have to find some food,” I say, “That villager selling food isn’t watching his food very well. Maybe if we walk by and snatch a piece of bread when he’s not looking, we won’t get caught.”

After we get the food, we see the village and the man walking towards a ship. We follow. It appears the ship and its captain, John Smith, are hiring crew. The man and the villager get in line. Since we have decided to stop them from changing history, we get in line, too.

When it is our turn to tell the manager what skills we have, I tell the manager that I have good building skills and I am fast. Zander tells him that he is strong and fast. The manager thinks a while and says, “Well, we do need a helper for a carpenter.” Then he turns to Zander, “We could use another crew member.”

So, he let us on the ship. But on the ship, Captain John Smith john smithsays all the slots are full; nobody else can get on.

And then, Zander says, “Well, I guess we are leaving sooner than expected.”

For three days, we work hard. Then, we hear word of a mutiny.

Zander and I have an idea of who is starting it because of what we heard at the village. But we need proof. Every night, we decide to try to overhear what they are saying. Eventually we hear, “Yes, this is good, the crew is thinking about it.”   We decide that tomorrow we will tell the captain. But that is a mistake.

The next day, the man, the villager, and a few crew men bang on the door of the captain’s quarters. They have Zander; I didn’t realize he was already awake. I see a rock, a piece of cut-off lashings, and a stick near me. I decide to lash the stick and rock together and use it as a club, but, I won’t attack yet. I want to see what the crew is doing first.

They are conducting a mutiny, so I decide to sneak up on the guys holding Zander hostage and try to knock them out. But when I get near them, they notice me. They yell, “Hey, what are you doing?” I think fast, flinging the club at one and tripping the other. I notice the one I tripped also has lashings and a gag, so I bind his hands, untie the bindings on Zander’s hands, and remove his gag. I notice both men have hammers. I give one to Zander and take one for myself.

And then “THUD.” We look over to the captain’s quarters and the door has been blown off its hinges. Zander and I notice that the dining area’s door is open, so we walk inside. We almost get hit with a long pole, but manage to dodge it. We look over to our attacker, and at the end of the pole, is Captain John Smith. We say, “Oh, Captain. We’re not trying to mutiny; we’re trying to help you. We know who started this. He has a long scar across his eye and he is short and bulky with a curly beard. If we knock him out and dump him off the side of the boat, that may stop the mutiny”.

Captain Smith says, “Yeah, I see him, but he is surrounded. We are going to have to fight our way through.”

“But how?” asks Zander.

“There is a secret weapons storage near the Brig, I’ll take you to it,” says Captain Smith.

When we got to the Brig, we didn’t see anything. “Where is it?” I ask.

He says, “Give me your hammer.”

He pounds the side wall, and eventually the wall breaks. Inside are a few swords. We each grab one and Captain John Smith says, “We’re not aiming to kill, only knock them out”.

“We know,” Zander and I say in unison.

When we reach the main deck, the mutineers aren’t looking in the dining area. When we peek in the door, we see that the man isn’t encircled in men anymore. In fact, we can probably grab him without being noticed. As we close in, the loose floorboards creak. I step one step too close and the floor board lets out a loud CREAK. Everybody turns on us.

Instead of trying to grab the man, we decide to tell them what would happen if the man was captain. We say, “Don’t let him be captain. What you think will happen won’t. He will work you to the bone. He will take you into very, very dangerous areas.”

That seems to make people think, “Why would he give us more food; is this just a bribe?” Mutters run around in the group. Finally, one says, “Yeah, I think this is just a bribe!” Then some of the others agree. But, the villager and some of the mutineers form a circle around the man.

Zander, the Captain and I, along with a few crew members, pull out our weapons and ready for a fight. So do the mutineers.

We run at the mutineers. The mutineers’ weapons consist mostly of metal poles and rocks tied to each other, but the mutineers are good with them. When the two sides connect, it is absolute pandemonium. A rock catches the end of my sword and the man tries to pull it out of my hand. I try a maneuver I saw in a video, to stomp on the rope and lift the sword up to cut the rope. Like a coward, he runs away from the battle. I then see why. All of the other mutineers are knocked out or disarmed.

We grab the man with the scar and throw him overboard because he was knocked out, or at least we thought so. We turn away, and out of the corner of my eye, I see a bright flash of red light. At that moment, I know he is not from this era, either. He is from the future. And then I remember. I still have the compass in my pocket. I take it out and notice that the compass point is back to red and the key chain is out.

I call Zander over and say, “Hey, I think we can go home now. Do you want to try?”

He says, “Yeah, let’s do it.” We take hold of the compass and push the key chain in, and with a flash of blue light we are back home.blue flash

The time didn’t change at all, despite being in the past for several days. The compass sent us back to where we first were.

I say, “Well, now that we’re home and we just saved John Smith, let’s play Xbox.”

Sixth grader Alex Phelps, Central Middle School, Anne Arundel County, traveled back in time to write this story.