1 One minute we were sound asleep, warm and safe in our box. The next, we were upside-down, falling. All of us. My whole family. We’re pencils, and as I’m sure you know, we’re not good at holding on.
One minute we were sound asleep, warm and safe in our box. The next, we were upside-down, falling. All of us. My whole family. We’re pencils, and as I’m sure you know, we’re not good at holding on.
There went Orange Todd. I watched him fall, eraser end first. I could hear the others shouting as they fell, down… down… until…
Thud. Thud. Bonk.
We landed on something flat and hard, as well as each other.
“Ouch, my eraser,” Purple Gloria said.
“Dude, get off me,” Bucky, my blue-green brother said.
I looked around. Everything was so different from what I was used to. We had landed on a large, brown area. Over in the corner was a stack of thin, white rectangles. I could see our box in the distance and wished I was in it.
“What is going on? Where are we?” I asked, rolling off of Red Sean.
“Is everybody okay? Did somebody forget to shut the box?”
“I did not leave the top open,” Orange Todd said, bumping against me. “Why does everybody always blame me?”
“Todd.” I rolled a little to get away. “I wasn’t saying that you―”
Right then, a shadow fell over us all.
Ahhhhh!” All twelve of us screamed together. I never saw such a scary thing. Okay, so I’ve been in a box all my life. But trust me, it was still pretty bad.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. The thing was huge and so weird looking, all lumpy and pink with big clumps of stringy yellow stuff on the top. So gross.
I squeezed my eyes shut and whispered, “Okay, when I open my eyes, we’ll all be back in the box.”
Lame, right? As you probably guessed, I opened my eyes, and the monster was still there, staring down at us with giant eyes the size of ―I don’t know ― giant eyes.
“It’s going to eat us!” Green Theresa, who happened to be closest to the thing, fainted. The poor thing. I didn’t blame her. What else could she do? What could any of us do?
“What if it wants to bite our erasers off?” My blue brother, Tyson, rolled against Brown Kerry’s side, hiding his face.
“Like I can protect you,” Kerry said, rolling her eyes.
We were all helpless. What would happen to me? To my family?
“My name is Mike,” The number two called out.
“Calm down. It’s not going to eat anybody,” said a far away voice. I rolled over to see who it was.
On the other end of the big rectangle we had been dumped out on was a yellow pencil, the kind with the pink eraser. It was odd how calm he was. While we were all screaming and rolling around, that yellow guy just laid there, smiling.
“You folks are new here, aren’t you?” He seemed friendly enough. Why wasn’t he freaking out like the rest of us? “Shhh,” I hissed. “It will hear you.” “Oh, don’t worry about that,” Mike said with an even bigger smile than before. “They’re way too busy to ever notice anything we have to say.” “So, is the monster going to hurt us?” Blue Tyson asked. Yeah, was it? “Hurt us? No way. He likes pencils and he’s not a monster.” ” I moved a little closer to Mike.“You’re kidding, right ? That’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. How can it not be a monster?” “I understand
what you guys are
going through,” Mike
said. “I was scared
too, at first. You just
have to get used to him.
His name is Joey. He’s
really not so bad.
Look at him again.
“Don’t talk to him,” whispered Purple Gloria and she turned her back to him. “He’s just a regular old number two. Act like you don’t hear him.”
“Okay, I’m looking,” I said, narrowing my eyes at the creature. “Is that opening under that big lumpy thing a smile?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Okay, so maybe it’s smiling because it’s planning to eat us?” Blue Tyson suggested.
The thought did not make me feel any better.
“No, that’s not it at all. They like us. We’re very important to them.”
“Yeah, for food.” Red Sean said.
“No, you’re wrong,” Mike sighed. “Humans would never even think of eating a pencil.”
“How do you know so much about these things?” I asked.
“Well, I’m the last pencil in a pack of twenty-four. When you’ve been around as long as I have, you learn some things.”
Green Theresa woke up and joined us. “The last? But what happened to the rest of the pencils in your box?”
“Yeah,” Brown Kerry said. “Where is your family?” “They got eaten!” Green Theresa said. And with that, she fainted once again.
“They did not get eaten.” Mike bumped up against my sleeping sister, trying to wake her. “If you’d just let me explain…”
Before he could finish, something came up from beneath the edge of the rectangle we were lying on. I could not believe my eyes, so if you don’t believe me now, I understand. Large and pinkish with five long things sticking outof it, the thing made no sound as it moved through the air above us. It grew from the end of a long tube-like sort of thing.
“What the heck is that?” I said. None of my bunch knew. We just gawked at it, frozen with fear. Green Theresa woke up, just as the pink thing passed above us. I think she may have stayed awake for two seconds that time.
The thing came down and pushed aside everybody that had been lying on top of those thin, white rectangles. So far, it hadn’t eaten anybody, but I still didn’t trust it.
“That white stuff is called paper,” Mike told us. “They use a lot of it.”
The thing used two of the five long pointy things to pick up one piece of paper and set it down a short distance away.
“Don’t worry, it won’t hurt us,” Mike said. “They use those to pick up things―pencils too. They’re called “hands”. Those five long things are called fingers. All of the humans have them.”
“Hands?” Purple Gloria said. “It sounds like they would be really useful.”
“Yes, they are. Humans do all sorts of things with them,” Mike said.
What a strange day. One minute we’re all sleeping, warm and quiet in our nice, dark box. The next, we’re out in the bright light watching a lumpy, pink giant pick up something called “paper” with its “fingers.”
The hand hung in the air above Mike for a second. Then, to our shock, it came down and wrapped its fingers all around him.
“Oh boy,” Mike said with a wide grin. “Now watch what happens. This is going to be so cool.”
If it had been me, I know I would have screamed like my sister Theresa.
“I just knew those things couldn’t be trusted,” Purple Gloria said.
“It’s okay,” he said as the hand carried him away. “You’ll see.”
But what had they done to him?
“So what do you think?” he asked.
Everyone gathered around Mike, wide eyed and smiling. Everyone but me.
“Wow. Did it hurt?” Red Sean asked.
“Not at all. It looks good, right?” Mike rolled over so we could see the back.
bump. “It’s new, modern ― different. Sharp is the new flat.”
I couldn’t believe it. Everyone gathered around Mike, asking him questions. But not me, so I was the only one who noticed when the hand came back and grabbed our brother, Blue Tyson.
“Hey Guys, I uh …” Tyson was gone before he could finish. It all happened so fast, but really, what could I have done?
Would Blue Tyson come back sharp too? It was too much for me to take. I started rocking back and forth, crying.
“This is a nightmare. We’re all doomed.”
“What’s wrong with the rainbow colored guy?” Mike asked.
“Oh, that’s just Gerald,” Brown Kerry said. “Don’t worry about him. If it was up to Gerald, he’d stay inside the box forever. He doesn’t do well with change.”
“That’s not true,” I said, but nobody listened. They just kept asking Mike questions about how it felt to get sharpened. The girls were ridiculous. What flirts. Green Theresa was the worst of them. She rolled herself right up beside Mike, batting her eyelashes right in his face.
I bumped up against her. “What are you doing, Theresa? A few minutes ago you didn’t even want me to talk to him.”
The others were no better. Either they were just too dumb to understand, or they just didn’t care.
Brown Kerry rolled over and bumped up against me. “Gerald, everybody else thinks Mike looks great. Don’t you want to get your tip sharpened too?”
He was sharp. Mike’s tip was sharp. Pointy!
“I can see your lead,” I gasped and looked away.
“Yeah, awesome, isn’t it?” Mike said. “I wish I could see it.”
The other pencils crowded past me to get a better look.
Mike’s grin was so big the sides of his mouth almost came together in the back.
“You look so cool,” Purple Gloria said, batting her eyelashes.
“I just love the new look,” Green Theresa said.
“His tip is sharp,” I said. “Are you all crazy? It’s just not right.”
“Come on, Gerald,” Green Theresa said giving me a
“You are all nuts,” I said. At that moment my anger won out over my fear. For the first time I took control of my life. “Well, I’m not just going to lay here and let some monster sharpen my tip. I like it just the way it is. The way it’s supposed to be. Flat.” And with that, I, Gerald the Rainbow Colored Pencil, did the bravest thing I had ever done. I began by rocking back and forth, harder than ever. Soon I found that if I rocked hard enough I could roll pretty far. Purple Gloria laughed nervously. “Uh, Gerald…what are you doing?” “Leaving!” I rolled some more. “Who’s coming with me?” “But where would we go?” Red Sean asked, sobbing. “Someplace where pencils are safe from giants,” I answered, even though I had no idea where that was. Everyone rolled towards me. Great, I thought. We’ll all find a new home together. “Please don’t go, Gerald,” Green Theresa said. I could see the sadness on their faces. I was wrong. They weren’t coming with me. I pushed past Bucky. “I won’t be sharpened, so don’t try and stop me,” I shouted.When I reached the edge, I turned to give them one last chance. “Please come with me.” They all looked at each other, but none came forward. “We’re scared, Gerald,” Brown Kerry said. “We have no idea what’s out there.”
Sure. I understood. I didn’t know. But I sure knew what would happen if I stayed. “I love you guys. And I’m going to miss you, but I have to go,” I said. “Last chance. Who’s coming with me?” None moved to join me. “Gerald?” Red Sean called.With a sigh, I gave one final push and rolled right off the edge.
“Tyson,” I called out. “Are you alright?”
He had been put down with the others, so I couldn’t see him anymore.
But he could hear me, and shouted back an answer, “I’m sharp now Gerald.” Those four words chilled me down to the lead.
“They’re never going to get me!” I shouted back, and I rolled with all my strength. Did I have any idea where I was going? Not a clue. This world was no place for a pencil. I felt smaller than ever.
Before I could get very far, a new hand swooped down and yanked me high into the air. This one was pretty much like the other one. It was part of a monster with all of the same kind of holes and lumps. The stuff on top was a different color, but besides that, I couldn’t tell the difference.
It held me up to its face and looked me over. I could even see a little bit of the same green crust around the two little holes below its eyes, just like the other one had. What had Mike called it? Oh yeah, its “nose.” I guessed that was normal for them. Gross.
“What are you doing out here all by yourself?” it asked me.
I hit the floor with a hard thunk, bouncing once on my tip and again on my eraser, smudging it. Oooff.
Even from there, I could hear them all gasp.
Then I heard a new, different voice.
“Hey, where did that rainbow colored pencil go? It was on my desk a second ago.”
Okay, so I’d escaped the giant, but where was I? Moving onto my back, I looked around. You have to remember that up until a few minutes ago, I’d spent my whole life inside a pencil box. The place was huge.
High above me, the pink monster returned my brother, Blue Tyson, to the group. From this new angle I could see a lot more than before. The hand grew out of a long pink tube and that tube was part of the giant, Joey. He had two of them, one on each side. Amazing, right?
Poor Tyson. I could see his eraser and some blue sticking out from between the…What had Mike called them? Oh yeah, fingers. How did they come up with these words?
Good question, right? What was I doing there? But what was more important, what was this thing going to do to me? Being sharpened seemed horrible. But was that the worst thing that could happen to a pencil? Well, I’ll say one thing for monsters, they can sure get around. Within seconds, we had traveled farther than I ever could have in days. Still, we never did get where he planned, because soon two more came along and blocked our way.
As it turns out, monsters come in all shapes and colors. Unlike the ones I’d seen so far, the stuff on top of these two was much longer. One of them was pink with orange topping, but the second one was different. Instead of being pink, it was a beautiful shade of brown, like my sister Kerry. And the top stuff was black and tied up into bunches with all sorts of red and yellow balls. A monster, but a colorful monster. “What you got there? Let me see,” said the one with orange stuff on top. The three formed a circle around me. I could tell they didn’t like each other right off. Sure, they were all smiling, but the smiles never reached their eyes. Were they going to fight over me? I imagined myself snapped in two on the floor. “Nice pencil, Geek,” said the brown one. Geek. Should I remember his name? “Want some chocolate?” The brown one raised one of its hands. Between two of its fingers was a small, brown rectangle.
“Want some chocolate?” The brown one raised one of its hands. Between two of its fingers was a small, brown rectangle. “Sure,” Geek said. His eyes narrowed, but his other hand, the one that wasn’t holding me, slowly moved to get it. But just as Geek’s fingers were about to grab hold, the hand yanked it away.
And do you know what that brown monster did next?
It ate it. In a flash, the monster shoved that chocolate right into its mouth and smashed it into a brown, juicy wad with those white things they all seem to have. Horrible, right? I hope it didn’t suffer. If it could do that to chocolate, what could it do to me? I watched as Geek’s own mouth fell open and his eyes grew wide.
Right away, the other two started making the oddest sounds. Maybe you’re familiar with it, but it was new to me, sort of like, “Ha hahahaha.” I have no idea what that meant.
Geek and I started to leave, but the orange one grabbed him.
“Yeah, that is a nice pencil,” she said. “Too bad you don’t know how to write.”
Geek didn’t like that. His mouth slammed shut and his eyes got all scrunched up.
“I wasn’t going to use it to write anyway,” Geek said.
Since I didn’t know what “writing” was, that didn’t make me feel any better.
“Well then, what are you going to do with it, Stupid?” asked the brown one. I guess some monsters have two names. This one was called both Stupid and Geek.
“Maybe he’s going to eat it,” said the orange one.
I did not like where this was going. I could still see some of that poor chocolate, all smashed up and wet, on the edge of the brown one’s mouth.
Stupid Geek held me up to his face. He frowned at me… but then he frowned at them.
For a second, I thought he would open up his mouth and stuff me in. I closed my eyes.
“I’m going to do this,” he said. Then he shoved my eraser right into one of those two nose holes.
Okay, so it didn’t hurt, but it felt disgusting. My eraser was covered in sticky goo. What was that stuff?
Then, I understood. I had been stuck in there in order to feed something that lived way back inside the hole where no light reached. I opened my eyes wide, but couldn’t see a thing. Although nothing touched me, I was sure that at any moment it would sneak up behind me and bite my eraser off.
Okay, I was probably in there for just a few seconds, but at the time it, felt like a lot longer. Funny, but what saved me was those two other monsters.
“Eeeeeew!” I could hear them yell.
Maybe pencils are not the kind of food “Hole Monsters” like. Maybe there was never a monster in there at all. That, I will never know, because as soon as they yelled, he pulled me right out. Covered in green goo, Stupid Geek held me out for the others to see.
“Eeeeeeeeeeew!” they squealed, even louder than before.
Smiling, Stupid Geek waved me around, poking me at the other two. Hundreds of flat, white things stood in his mouth.
“Don’t touch me with that!” screamed the orange one as it slapped me away. “Yuck. You got it on my hand. …Missus Ploznick!”
“Don’t,” said the second one. It slapped at me too, and hard. It hurt, but in a way I was happy. That brown monster had hit me so hard I was free.