Title: BLACKBEARD’S ACADEMY OF PIRACY AND CULINARY ARTS
Genre: MG Fantasy
Monsters under the bed never scared Jake, but the ones doctors claimed lurked inside his head did. He scratched a phantom itch on his artificial foot, waiting for Miss Hardgrade’s verdict.
“Jake,” Hardgrade said, “you’ve been excused from the ‘How I spent my summer vacation’ assignment.”
“I need to tell what happened.”
She twirled a pencil between her fingers. “All you have is a title page.”
“It’s an oral presentation.”
“But this never really—”
“I know . . . doctors think my brain created an imaginary world to deal with the trauma of almost drowning. But I know I spent my summer with pirates.”
She glanced at his paper again. “Blackbeard’s Academy of Piracy and Culinary Arts.”
“What do they teach—food fighting?” Tommy Fathead shouted.
The class laughed. Fathead usually sucked at quick one-liners. His talent since grade school had been scraping the feet of chairs to mimic the toot of a butt tuba.
Hardgrade’s pencil snapped. “That’s enough.” The class transformed into statues minus the pigeon icing. “Jake, maybe you should wait until you can present something real?”
He stood and lifted his shirt. “Like this giant tattoo of Blackbeard’s flag on my chest?”
Everyone gasped at the white horned skeleton on a black background covering Jake's entire upper body. The dead devil held an hourglass in one hand while pointing a spear at a red heart dripping blood with the other.
“Doctors know I hate needles,” Jake said, “but they can’t explain how I have a tattoo, which required a million needles, when tourists found me washed up on a north end beach.”