Arstina and the Shadow King

by Maya Wang-Habib, age 8
Arstina and the Shadow King Maya is eight years old. She loves to read graphic novels and stories about girls and school.

“She felt the rough spot on her stomach. She rubbed it, and it came off in flakes. She bent down and licked it off the hot floor of the underworld. Ice cream. In that moment, Arstina felt something odd. Desire.”

Arstina was an evil doll. She had long since escaped the nursery and now roamed the underworld where she lived looking for something. She didn’t know what it was. Her hair was rough and knotted. Her eyes had splotches of paint on them. Her crippled body was stained with all sorts of things. Suddenly one day she knew what it meant.

She felt the rough spot on her stomach. She rubbed it, and it came off in flakes. She bent down and licked it off the hot floor of the underworld. Ice cream. In that moment, Arstina felt something odd. Desire. She longed for another taste. Sadly, though, that would be hard. 

There was no ice cream in the underworld. The shadow king ruled it all. And he did not give out sugary treats. He was very greedy. Arstina decided to beg the shadow king. Maybe he would show compassion.

She walked over to his palace. She rapped on the tall, black door. A guard answered. Arstina explained why she was there. The guard growled something and went to get the shadow king. Arstina hoped he would listen.

Soon, two guards came out. They both grabbed one of her arms and carried her in.

“What’s happening?” Arstina asked.

“The king is not pleased with you,” one guard responded in a gruff voice. “He thinks you are inconsiderate, horrible, lazy, annoying, and an overall nuisance. He wishes to kill you.”

Arstina gulped. Then she snapped back into reality. She started to yell at the guards.

“You are horrible people, and you should let me go! All I wanted was some ice cream!” Four words into her sentence, though, one guard stuffed a handkerchief into her mouth.

Six minutes later, she arrived in a courtyard out back. There was a big pile of wood in the middle. The shadow king walked up to Arstina and smiled. 

He said, “Hello, Arstina. I expect we’ll have some fun together. Simply jump on that pile of wood and allow us to tie you up.”

Arstina gulped and decided against it. The shadow king was holding a bunch of matches.

“Do you not want to?” Pause. “We can do this the hard way or the easy way.” Another pause. Arstina still stood firm. “All right, the hard way.”

The shadow king grabbed a rope and tied her up before she could respond. Then he forced her to march to the wood pile. He then tied her down. The shadow king struck a match and smiled devilishly. He gingerly placed it on the pile and then stopped for a second to watch Arstina burst into flames.

She cried out in pain. “I just wanted some ice cream!”

The king paused for a moment, as if he was thinking of something. Then he ran into the castle to get something.

The last thing Arstina ever saw was the shadow king laughing maniacally as he licked an ice cream cone. 


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