Samantha stopped to wait for Kale and Jake, who had fallen behind. They looked like they were having a serious conversation. Samantha guessed Kale was telling Jake what happened at the pool party. He would understand, she knew, because some people gave him a hard time for being a zombie, even though he had helped so much when the brain-eating zombies tried to take over their school (read Zombie Elementary to find out all about that!).
Samantha hoped that the club members would be welcoming to Kale. At least Kale wasn’t a zombie, she thought, only from another country nobody had heard of.
When Jake caught up to Samantha he said, “I have to go home and make sure my brother is behaving.” His twin brother James no longer ate people’s brains with a long green straw, but he still needed watching. Jake turned his slightly wobbly head towards Kale.
“Bye, Kale, nice talking with you. Don’t worry, things will get better.”
“Sure they will!” Samantha agreed. Seeing Kale’s sad face, Samantha decided to bring her right to the Imagination Club.
She stepped off the sidewalk onto a field. “Come on,” she said to Kale.
Kale followed Samantha across the grass around to the back of a house. Then they climbed over a fence and went into the woods behind the house. Soon they came to a huge tree with a thick trunk.
“There it is!” Samantha pointed to the tree.
“Wow, this is a big beautiful tree,” Kale exclaimed, patting its bark. This tree was so different from the trees on her planet. She remembered the floating trees, the fire and ice trees, and the shiny money trees. But she didn’t say anything about them to Samantha. Instead, she looked around for a clubhouse.
Samantha laughed and pointed up the tree. “The Imagination Club is up there!”
Kale looked up, shading her eyes against the glare of the sun and the light blue sky. The tree house was a dark green, covered with flat things that looked like leaves but when she looked hard she saw they were solar panels.
“Our tree house has electricity, heat, water and even internet! Samantha told her. It also has adjusted temperature so we can use it in summer or winter.”
“Wow!” Kale looked even harder (people from her planet see better than humans) and saw that beside the small flat leaf solar panels were big blue ones shaped like imagination animals, one like a tiger, one like a pony and another like a puppy. “Did the people of the Imagination Club build all of this?”
“Yep!” Samantha said proudly.
“Is that a red bird I see up there?” Kale peered up into the branches.
“Actually,” Samantha told her, stepping up to the trunk, “that’s the doorbell.” She pulled on a string that went up to the red bird, which opened its beak and let out a loud chirp. “That will let them know somebody is coming up.”
Kale saw some large mushrooms going up the trunk. She had seen these on trees in the woods before, but she had never seen anyone do what Samantha did next. Her friend stepped up onto the lowest mushroom, then on the one near it, which was a little higher, and she kept climbing up the mushrooms like steps. “Come on,” Samantha said.
Kale stepped up on the mushroom, which felt kind of bouncy, like a trampoline. She followed Samantha up the mushroom steps, holding onto branches that stuck out of the tree in convenient places.
They climbed up high. Samantha was puffing by the time they reached the top, but Kale was fine, since she was stronger and didn’t get tired like humans do. They came out on a wide platform painted green.
“This is a really cool tree house,” Kale said. “The branches overhead make it feel cozy.”
Samantha looked at her friend and grinned. “This is just the front porch elevator platform! Wait til you see the actual tree house!”
Kale looked around. “Cool. You can’t see it at all now, but I guess you can when the leaves fall off.” She had heard that this happened to trees here in winter and was excited to see it because trees on her planet didn’t do that.
“Nope!” Samantha smiled. “It’s camouflaged like hunters’ huts. It changes colors every season.”
“Wow,” said Kale.
Samantha went over to a pile of hard, green round things. Samantha picked one up and put it over her head. Samantha hand another one to Kale.
“Put this on.”
As Kale buckled the helmet on, what she had thought was just another tree branch slowly began moving toward them.
Kale watched amazed as the branch grew longer. Soon she realized that it wasn’t a branch but a robot arm.
The long arm gently but firmly grabbed onto Kale and Samantha, and began stretching up and up, getting longer and longer.
Kale held on tight. She could see the sky through the thick green leaves as they rose up. When they got higher the leaves thinned and she noticed that the light blue sky was crisscrossed with long clouds made by airplanes, like a blue birthday cake decorated with white icing.
Finally the arm set them down. As it folded back into itself, for a second she thought she saw a cute triangle nose and long ears behind the green leaves. Before she could ask about it, Samantha was knocking loudly on the door…