The golden rule by Dr Simon Hall – This elaborate shell belongs to a diatom living in the sea in one of the coldest parts of the world, Antarctica. Its glassy shell provides a safe environment for the diatom cell and is beautifully translucent.

Golden Rule

This is the story of an extraordinary ruler, two talking birds and me. My name is Dixie. In a way, my adventure was good, but it was my fault. It all started in the attic at my house, when my best friend Margo came over…….

“Dixie?” Margo called.
“What?” I asked impatiently, telling myself Margo was just trying to waste time.
“Dixie!” It sounded pretty urgent this time.
“Margo, stop calling my name, I’m getting annoyed!” I said crossly. Margo ignored me and carried on talking, babbling nonsense.
“Look at this!” she gabbled finally.
“I’m not falling for that one.” I replied, but gave up my search through old crates to turn round and look at her.
“C’mom Dixie, please look!” Margo gestured to a wide, flat box.
“What’s so exciting?” I wondered.
“Read what it says!” Margo pushed me towards the box. I read it.
“Wow!” was all I said.

The lid of the box said: DANGEROUS! DO NOT OPEN!
“What’s so dangerous?” I smirked. I forgot to mention that I was a champion nosey person then.
“I don’t know.” Margo shrugged.
I began to shove the lid of the box.
“Don’t, Dixie.”
I pretended that I hadn’t heard Margo and continued to bang on the lid of the box.
“Dixie, I said don’t!”
“Look if I want to look in the box, I can. I mean how dangerous can it be?”
“Well it says dangerous, do not open, it must be pretty dangerous.” Margo argued.
“Just let me peek inside.”
I opened it. Golden light blinded my eyes………………..

I shuffled backwards. I crouched behind a crate.
My best friend was huddled in the corner of the room, hugging her knees.
“It’s OK.” I lightly ruffled her hair. The glowing suddenly ceased. I got back on my feet and tentatively walked back to the box. Inside was a small, gold ruler.
“A ruler!!! All that fuss over a ruler????” I could feel myself getting a tiny bit irritated, What an understatement, I was furious! I plucked the ruler out, all set to stamp on it.
I swerved round. Everything was black.
“Margo! Mummy! Daddy! Anyone!”

After a while, I stopped screaming and began yelling. I thought that Margo had left me in the attic with the lights switched off so I yelled “Margo, your little joke of leaving in the attic isn’t funny anymore!”  
Then I saw a crack of light and peeked out. I didn’t see the attic stairwell. Instead, I was in a lift? None of this made any sense. There was no lift in our house, and Margo definitely couldn’t have put it there. The crack of light was big enough for me to slide my hand through. I did, and felt rough stone, jagged thorns and snapped tree branches. The lift jerked to a halt.
“Welcome, Dixie chosen one of the ruler!”

“Oh no!” I heard Margo shout, even though she wasn’t anywhere near me. Just when I’d stepped out of it, the lift zipped upwards, back towards my attic. In a few seconds, it dropped down again, this time carrying a dazed Margo inside. She wandered out and immediately flopped onto the floor.
 “Margo! What’s happened to her?” I screamed.
“Nothing is wrong Dixie, chosen one!” a voice whispered softly.
“Never mind. You were brought here by the golden ruler miniature and the golden lift. You will face two challenges. Cross the golden ruler bridge and you face a duel with the golden ruler himself!”
“But….but….” I stumbled.
“No objections!”
“But my parents!”
“Time is standing still in your world.”
“I smirked and strode away from the horrible taunting voice.  
“I forgot, do not attempt to swim the river underneath the golden bridge!” the mocking voice called after me. I tried to blank it out, but the words chilled me. What sort of danger could be lurking there?
“Your name is Dixie, you are no chosen one, this is all a crazy dream!” I tried to reassure myself, but it didn’t work. Much to my displeasure, it was real and there was nothing I could do about it. I saw a dense forest ahead of me. I knew my journey had begun.

I trekked along, clothes dirty and feet sore. Night was falling, the sun was setting and frankly I was glad. I had just enough time to build a fire and catch a Bandirook bird to eat. I needed a  shelter and fast. I foraged in my shorts pocket and found a stick of peppermint chewing gum and a fluffy marshmallow. I toasted the fluffy mallow and gummed a shelter together using the gum, twigs and leaves. It was pretty uncomfortable, but I didn’t have time to make myself a new shelter. I just had to put up with it. I hardly slept all that night.

It wasn’t until midday that I felt like carrying on. I began to walk at a very slow pace. A peacock and a pheasant chased each other round my feet.
“Hello!” the peacock said, fanning his tail feathers.
“You talk?” I was startled.
“Yep. You’re new around here, aren’t you?” the pheasant said scornfully.
“Err, I am. Where’s the golden ruler bridge?” I asked.
“Just over there!” the peacock cocked his head to one side.
“Thank you!” I cried.
“C’mom Phez, let’s follow her!” Peaky the peacock suggested.
“Fine then, but don’t blame me if she runs into trouble, Peaky.” Phez the pheasant said haughtily.
I scrambled away. Phez the pheasant and Peaky the peacock following me.

The golden ruler bridge was made of solid gold planks and stiff wood.
“This looks easy!” I commented.
I began to cross it. Being the proud person I was, I never, ever looked at the floor. My nose was in the air, my feet uncontrolled. A bluebird was hopping about the bridge.
“You’ll fall!” it chirped sweetly.
I stared at it for a long time. Suddenly, the bridge broke away beneath me feet.
“Oh no!” I screamed, and plummeted down. I fell into the murky black water where the greyhound fish and piranha dogs lived. I remembered something. I couldn’t swim.

The greyhound fish swarmed around, piranha dogs not far behind.
Phez was madly rushing around yelling “Police lions! We need police lions!”            
I tried to tread water as the inquisitive greyhound fish nudged me with their pointy noses.
“Get off!” I swatted them. Once the greyhound fish had retreated, the piranha dogs came closer. They snapped their mighty jaws, watching my every move. It was really frightening.
Peaky fanned out his beautiful tail feathers and held them over the river.
“Grab this, Dixie!” he called.
“Thank you so much!” I gasped, grabbing his tail.
“My pleasure!” he replied.
Phez began to sulk. I knew that he had wanted to rescue me himself.
We’d started our journey again. We were a right crew. A sopping wet shivering girl, a sulking pheasant and a too proud peacock. We came to a crossroads.
“Which way to the golden ruler?” I asked.
“This way!” said Phez pointing his tail feathers.
Peaky and I followed the pheasant for miles and miles.
“Where is it?” Peaky demanded finally.
“It’s there.” Phez did his best to point with his foot. The golden ruler’s castle was beautiful. It was made of solid gold and sparkling diamonds. Rubies, Emeralds, Sapphires, Amethysts and Tiger’s Eyes. I was amazed.  
Then I remembered what the scary voice had said,
“You face a duel with the golden ruler himself.”

An elf boy was standing at the castle gate, his name badge reading ‘Billy’.
“Who goes there?” he yelled.
“Peaky, Phez and Dixie the chosen one.” said Peaky.
“Ah, the chosen one, my master was expecting you.” Billy grinned.
“Yes, I’m meant to have a duel with him!” I replied
“Follow me.” Billy opened the gate and we followed him in, quiet as mice.
“So, where is your master?” Phez chirped brightly.
We all shushed him, even Billy. Escorted by Billy, we trooped past a lot of rooms all made of gold. Eventually, Billy rapped on one of the doors and called “Master! Dixie the chosen one is here to duel you!”
“Bring her in.” came a low, deep voice.
I trembled.
Billy pushed past me inside the room and shut the door, barring Peaky and Phez from going in.
“Peaky! Phez! What’s going on?” I screamed. Everything was pitch black, I couldn’t see anything.
“Is she alright?” I heard Phez ask Peaky.
“I hope so, that room looked so dark.” Peaky replied.
Well done, Peaky, good observation, I thought sarcastically.
I began to feel a little uneasy after a few minutes. There was no noise, apart from the golden ruler gently swishing his jewelled cane back and forth. I sniffed and gazed into the blackness, trying to catch a glimpse of the golden ruler and his cane.
“Do you do fencing in your world?” the ruler asked me suddenly.
“Err……no.” I quivered.
“Good, you’ll be easy to defeat then.” He muttered under his breath.
I was terribly scared. I’d never fenced before, never even heard of it. The lights snapped on. I had a clear view of the ruler, a smile on his untrustworthy face.
“Ready to duel?” he smiled roughly.
“No.” I said, hating him.
The golden ruler lunged at me. I did something pathetic then, I called out “Mummy!”
“Mummy’s not here for you now!” the ruler cackled and tried to hit out with fencing equipment.
Then I lunged out, grabbing a fencing mask from his hands.
“You stupid girl, in ruler fencing, we don’t wear masks!”
I ignored him and put the mask on.
“Well…..if you want to play like that…” he flicked a switch in the wall. Nearly the whole room broke away before my eyes. Only the square in the middle which the ruler and I were standing on was still there. We began to duel. He lunged and I defend myself. We did this endless times until the ruler had me pinned to floor.
“I’ve defeated hundreds of chosen ones before, do you honestly think you can beat me?” he cackled.
“Sure, I mean you’re just a ruler.” I replied coolly, even though I was nearly gasping with the shock of being pinned to the ground.
He flicked my mask.
“Stop it!”
He didn’t stop. I lost my temper. I flailed my arms out and hit the ruler to the ground. He did not land softly, but with a crash. He exploded into a thousand tiny pieces.
I punched the air in triumph.
I used the ruler’s too big throne to cross the huge gap between the middle of the room and the door. I turned the throne on its side and laid it across the crack in the room. I crept over it carefully and opened the door quietly. I was greeted by a cheering pheasant, a grinning peacock and a whooping Billy.
 “Did you defeat him, Dixie?” Peaky said excitedly.
“Yes.” I was fizzing with happiness.
“Err, chosen one the building is falling down.” Billy cried.
“Let’s get out, then.” I said urgently.

We ran. The castle collapsed as we scrambled out. Phez tore off into the forest, Peaky, Billy and I close behind. We didn’t stop until we got to the Golden ruler bridge.
“Wow!” Billy exclaimed.
I smiled at him, just as Margo emerged from behind a bush, bleary eyed and tired.
“Where am I?” she questioned, yawning.
“Well you definitely aren’t in bed!” I joked.
“I feel like I’ve just slept in a hedge!” Margo said yawning again.
“You probably have.” I remarked.
Then I heard the voice again.
“Dixie and Margo, please prepare for a rough landing!”
I knew it was time to leave ruler country. There was just enough time for a quick hug from Billy, Phez and Peaky before we left.
“If you’d like to visit us again just grab the ruler!” Phez advised and shoved a roughly scrawled piece of paper into my hand.
If you want to visit again just grab the ruler and say “Ruler country!” From Phez, Peaky and Billy.

We were then lifted off the ground and instantly we were back home. Margo was shaking her head, tossing her long blonde hair out of her eyes.
“Wasn’t that amazing?” I asked.
“Wasn’t what amazing?” Margo  said quizzically.
“You know, ruler country, Phez, Peaky, Billy?” I gestured around.
“What are you talking about?” Margo asked.
I realised that she’d had to forget it. Only the chosen one is allowed to remember what happened.
I heard Mum calling “Dixie, Margo! Would you like to make Thai food with me?”
“Yes please!” Margo flung open the attic door and dashed down the stairs to the kitchen.
“Coming, Dixie?” Mum shouted.
“In a minute, I’ve just got to write something down!” I yelled back.
Here it is.
Dear whoever finds this golden ruler,
My name is Dixie, I have used this ruler. It is not a plaything. It is an extremely dangerous item, unless you want to find out about a pheasant called Phez, a peacock called Peaky and an elf called Billy. I advise you not to use it.
From Dixie, the chosen one of the ruler.

I felt that the ruler would be in safe hands if anyone found it. And who knows, maybe someone will find it. And now I have a golden rule. I will never look in a box that says dangerous on it ever again……….

The End.

Maddie, age 10 Hillcrest Primary School

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