Chapter One: Preparations for Re-Entry
The four members of the Crafters’ Club sat with their eyes glued to the huge television in JJ and Jamie’s family room. Not a word was uttered. Each of them held an Xbox controller as they moved inventory into the Minecraft house they’d created.
JJ looked at his brother Jamie and their two friends, Annie and Charli, and grinned. They were so intent on putting the right armor, food and supplies into the house. Their adventures going through the real-life portal had taught them many lessons, the most important of which was to be prepared. Once they stepped through the portal and into the world of Minecraft they would be in survival mode with limited inventory. Creative mode would be much easier but so far they hadn’t worked out how to access it in the map. It wasn’t as simple as setting the Xbox to creative though, they’d tried.
“Can you believe we’re actually going to do this?” Charli asked. “I was sure I’d turn up here this morning and you’d come up with some reason why we shouldn’t go back in.”
JJ laughed. Charli was right. He’d spent most of the night worrying about the problems they might face bringing Toby, their villager friend, into the real world. “I’ve got lots of reasons why we shouldn’t go back in,” he said. “But I’m as excited as you are. If something goes wrong we take Toby straight back through the portal to his village.”
“I can’t wait to see him,” Jamie said. “I wonder what he’ll look like when we bring him out? Do you think he’ll be a normal boy?”
“One way to find out,” Charli said. “I think we’ve stored every bit of inventory we could possibly need in the house. We’re ready. Let’s go.”
“I’m not going,” Annie said. “I’ll wait in the forest beside the portal for you to come out.”
“Are you sure?” JJ asked.
JJ didn’t ask her again. The Minecraft world had frightened Annie, which wasn’t surprising. Their first adventure saw them stuck, unable to get home. Having to learn to survive attacks from mobs, craft materials, and discover a way to access a portal across boiling lava had been scary. On their second adventure, zombies had needed to be destroyed and Jamie nearly died.
“No,” Jamie said.
JJ turned to him. “No, what?”
“No, you can’t change your mind.” Jamie shook his head. “I know you, you’re having second thoughts, thinking about all the bad things that might happen. We’re going in, we promised Toby.”
“Yes, come on,” Charli said, putting her controller down. “Let’s go, he’s probably waiting.”
Hesitating a moment JJ added his controller to the coffee table and followed Charli toward the back door. Yes, he had some concerns about going back in, but the portal in the Minecraft map would bring them home if anything went wrong. All they would need to do is step back through to the real world. Excitement overtook his concerns as he followed the others down his sloping back yard and into the forest.
JJ found himself slowing down as Charli and Jamie sped through the forest toward the portal. He waited for Annie to catch up before using the stones to cross the creek and climb the steep bank on the other side. He and Annie pushed their way past ferns, rounded a large tree, and arrived in the clearing. Charli and Jamie had waited for them.
“Took your time,” Jamie said. “What did you do, stop for a nap?”
Charli laughed. JJ and Annie chose to ignore him.
“Are you sure you’ll be okay by yourself?” JJ asked Annie.
Annie nodded, her eyes darting nervously to the portal.
“Really?” Charli asked. “You’ll wait for us by yourself?”
Annie nodded again. “It’s a lot less scary than going through the portal,” she said, “and anyway, I want to see what Toby looks like when he comes out.”
“Okay,” JJ said. “If you get scared, or we’re not back in half an hour, run back to my house. You can watch us from the Xbox. We might need your help.”
“Why don’t you wait on that log?” Charli pointed across the clearing.
Annie walked over to the fallen tree and sat down.
“Let’s go,” Jamie said, walking toward the portal.
Charli and JJ followed him, watching as he stepped into the flickering purple light and disappeared.
“Ready?” JJ asked.
Charli nodded and together they moved forward, allowing the purple light to suck them in, leaving no trace of them in the real world.
“Back again,” Charli9 said. The three of them found themselves standing on top of the same hill they’d arrived on each time. Once again their Minecraft skins had replaced their real bodies.
Jamie punched his left arm and his inventory pad appeared. “Survival mode,” he confirmed. “We don’t seem to be able to enter this world in creative.”
“Let’s go to the house and check our supplies are there,” JJ said. “If they’re not, we head straight to the portal and go back to the real world. Okay?”
“So, if the supplies are there, we go to the village and get Toby?” Charli asked.
“Definitely,” JJ nodded, “but if they’re not we go back out and try storing them again.”
Jamie and Charli exchanged a look before nodding in agreement.
“Come on.” JJ moved down the hill toward the grassy valley. The scenery was now so familiar. He pushed his left arm out twice, holding it out in front the second time and found himself sprinting. His surroundings became a blur as he moved in the direction of the house. The speed at which they could travel was amazing. If this worked in real life he’d be finished the school’s cross country while most of his friends were still at the starting line.
He stopped suddenly, realizing he was at the house. A gust of wind hit him as Charli and Jamie stopped next to him.
“Let’s check the supplies are here, then we can go to the village,” Charli said.
JJ pushed open the door and they made their way to the movie theater. Chests filled the room. JJ grinned and opened the one nearest to him. “Armor’s in this one.”
Jamie and Charli started opening chests as well.
“Awesome,” Jamie said. “Check out how many cakes are in here, Annie’s stocked the food well.”
“There’s meat, apples, watermelon, and bread in this one,” Charli said.
“We’ve got swords, iron ingots, and TNT in here,” JJ said. “The other chests contain everything else we could possibly need. Let’s split the items between us so we all get full diamond armor, food, and weapons in our inventories.”
They spent a few moments dividing up the items.
“That’s everything,” JJ emptied the last chest. “Imagine if we’d found these supplies the first time we came through the portal. How much easier would it have been?”
Charli laughed. “Easier? That’s an understatement.”
“Let’s go,” JJ said. “We’ve got nothing to worry about this time, other than enjoying ourselves.” He walked back through the house and out the front door. Glancing over his shoulder to make sure Charli and Jamie were following, JJ turned and raced toward the village.