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July 20, 2012


illustrations by CRYPTO 1


excerpts from the new book



Usually stories are created or retold when a writer comes up with an idea – and a
plot for the book. And if it’s a children’s book, once the book is finished, the
writer is joined by an artist who makes illustrations for the book. Well… this time
things happened differently. In a totally opposite way. For the last few years I‘ve
lived in a big city, in a house, in an apartment on the 4th floor. I share this
apartment together with an artist whose name is Crypto. We are roommates and
friends. Ever since I‘ve known him he’s been creating rather fantastical images of
all sorts. Many times I have put a question to him, like: “what is this?” or “what is
that?” or “who are they?” The usual answer is: “Hmmm – you know… they just
come into my head like visitors from some unseen world. I really don’t know who
they are!” The pictures of them in different forms and stages are hanging all
around the apartment. Especially in the kitchen. And they have been hanging
there for some considerable time now. One night I had a dream. I was standing in
front of these pictures in the kitchen and suddenly all the characters of the pictures
started to talk. Or rather, it’s more like they were complaining – or even shouting at
me: “Please! Please! Help us! Can’t you see? We are in prison here!
We want to be free!” I woke up with a feeling of uneasiness. Later I told Crypto
about my dream. We kept talking about it and decided that we had to do something
about it. The result is this book. I really hope that they are not angry with us. We
did the best we could to set their spirits free.

Chapter 1
Once upon a time in a big city in a big house on the 4th floor lived a girl called
Clara. She was seven years old. She had a mother, a father and a brother, two
years younger. Dad had been sent to war in a far-away country quite a while ago.
Her brother suddenly got sick and was taken to the hospital. And mom… mom was
crying a lot lately. Clara felt more and more sad, playing alone in her big room.
Things were not going well, to say the least. Besides, it was the end of a long cold
winter, which doesn’t make one‘s state of mind any better.
One night Clara had a VERY VERY strange dream:
Clara was flying through the night sky with considerable speed. And she felt very
Then she noticed a large apparition in the sky heading her way and it looked so
improbable that it’s best not to try to describe it. You can judge for yourselves.To top it all off, this being was eating a big cabbage head. Or maybe it was a small
planet… Clara couldn’t tell. She froze in her heels.
“Who are you?” screamed Clara in fright.
“ME?” Who are YOU?”
“I am Clara from the 4th floor!”

“Really… Ha! Ha! Ha! I am Star-O-Fun! I hear everything that has happened
in the universe – and what is going about to happen! Ha! Ha! Just look at my
ears!” (Sometimes when this being spoke it was hard to get the meaning of his
words because he sputtered so much.)
“I don’t understand you, sir.”
“So… so… we finally meet, Clara! It’s been some time, right? I was beginning to
think that you may have changed your mind!”
“Sir, forgive me, but I don’t think we have met before.”
“Well, that is what you think and, besides, HERE your thinking will not help you
much, you know!”
“Where am I, Sir?” asked Clara politely.
“Well… you are HERE! Where else? Ha! Ha!”
“And what will help me HERE, Sir?”
“Oh… HERE… The only way – or chance – or impossibility – or certainty is…”
And then he once again started to sputter so much that Clara couldn’t make out
anything he was saying.
“And what was that you were saying about changing my mind?”
“Mind is only if you mind what’s in your heart, Clara.”
“And what’s in my heart, Sir?” she persisted.

“Words are of no help THERE, Clara.”
“I don’t think I understand you STAR-O-FUN. But I would like to.”
“Ahhhh… some things are inescapable,” sighed Star-O-Fun, with a big sputter.
“Sir, what is that spinning thing on your stomach, if I may ask?”
“Oh, nothing… that’s just a star which I swallowed so I can shine, from the inside…
You know… it’s dark here, isn’t it? And you wouldn’t see me otherwise. Eh?”
“Hmmm… Well, what I am supposed to do now, Sir, since you know everything?”
said Clara, trying to follow his line of reasoning.
“Oh, nothing… Nothing at all. Everything real happens by itself! See you later,
Clara,” cried Star-O-Fun, disappearing into the night sky with great speed.
Then Clara woke up.

Chapter 2
Some time went by and the strange dream faded away. Slowly spring came. One
sunny morning Clara woke up earlier than usual. Sleepily she looked around her
room and noticed that right there, at the other end of her bed, was sitting a rather
peculiar creature. It looked unlike anything she had ever seen before – including
all the pictures she’d seen in all of her beautifully colored fairy tale books. And
the funny thing was that it was impossible to tell what the creature’s real size was.
It seemed to expand and contract according to some unseen force.
Clara was surprised to realize that she wasn’t scared at all. Deep inside she felt
that she knew something like this was bound to happen. Clara had a vague distant
memory that they had seen each other before. But you can never be sure about
such things.

“Good morning!” – said the peculiar creature.
“Good morning!” – said Clara, and added: “Who are you?”
“Me? What a funny question. I am Clara!” replied the peculiar creature.
“But I am Clara!” – said Clara..
“No, I am Clara!” – said the other Clara.
“Are you ME then?”
“How can I be YOU if I am myself, Clara?”
“So that means that there are many many
Claras?” pondered Clara.
“There can not be many many Claras, because I have always been Clara and I
cannot be anything else but Clara,” reasoned the visitor.
“This is very confusing!” sighed little Clara.
“It is nothing of the sort. If I am Clara it means that you are someone else,” said
the visitor, with a decisive nod.
“Alright, let’s try another way. I am Clara and I am a seven-year-old girl. Who
are you?”

“What do you mean? I cannot be really sure if you are a girl or a table or a
spoon. I only know that I am Clara. And I have never been anything but Clara. Is
that so hard to understand?” exclaimed the visitor.
“This is exasperating!” cried little Clara.
“Well, I guess we’ll just have to find a way out of this exasperating situation,”
said the Clara the visitor, as she sank deep into her thoughts at the end of the bed,
fluttering her luscious wings now and then. Her dark eyes seemed to shine even
more than before. Both Claras fell silent for a long time.
Then Clara the visitor suddenly shuddered and lit up. She flew around the room
and again landed at the end of the bed.
“Here’s an idea: as long as you are with me you’ll be Sara. That’s almost as good
as Clara, isn’t it? Or even better! SARA! SARA! What do you say? Doesn’t that
sound GRAND!”

Clara didn’t answer. She thought about it for a while. “Sara” didn’t sound bad at
all. There were times in the past when she even caught herself thinking that she
would like to have some other name than Clara. And changing names after all is
so exciting. And she had been SO SO lonely lately. And Clara was so SO SO
“Yes, I think as long as we are together – and my mom doesn’t know about it – I
could be Sara,” decided Sara who used to be Clara.
“Good then!” said Clara, greatly relieved.
“What are we going to do now? Now that I am Sara and you are Clara? Are we
going to play? How about a game?” asked Sara, excitedly.
“A game? How about going for a ride? On a trip! A journey perhaps?” – as Clara
pointed to her back with one of her legs, motioning Sara to hop on.
“Oh, dear… but what about my mom? If my mom comes into my room and finds
that I’m not here she will be very frightened.”
“Oh, don’t worry! We will definitely be back before she wakes up. Let’s go!” –
cried Clara. “TIME is on our side! There is no time but TIME!”
“But how? You are too small. If I sat on you I would crash you with my weight
immediately,” said Sara, sitting in her bed in her pajamas, with a mixture of
concern and happy anticipation. And not knowing why, she burst into laughter.
“Oh, well, that’s easy. Just come here and kiss me on my eyes. You’ll see!

That’s all. But before you do, put on your play clothes!” And Sara did so.
“Now take all the cookies from the table,” ordered Clara in a firm but kind voice.
Sara did so, stuffing her jacket pockets full with the cookies her mom had brought
into her room last night.
“Ah… I see you have a bubble machine as well,” said Clara, pointing to the device
next to the cookie tray with which Sara amused herself when she felt particularly

“A bubble machine? What do we need it for?”
“For bubbles, of course!” explained Clara. “You never know what might come in
handy on a trip! And if we meet somebody – or go visit somebody – it’s always
good to have gifts, don’t you think?”
Sara did everything exactly as she had been told. Then she came right up to Clara,
stooped down, and said, “like this?” – and kissed Clara on her open black eyes.

A million little sparks flashed before Sara’s eyes – and when she opened them
-everything was totally different. The room was full of bright light and Sara could
no longer tell what was big or what was small, or what was close or what was far.
But somehow she didn’t care.
Without further ado Sara jumped on Clara’s back and grabbed the scarf that was
wrapped around Clara’s neck. With a joyful cry, Clara flew out the window with
Sara on her back.

Sara couldn’t believe what was happening. It was too delightful. They flew up
high in the morning sky, circling around Sara‘s house, which looked so small from
above that she couldn’t imagine that she had ever fit into it.
Clara continued to circle round the open sky. Then, direct as a dart, she shot down
toward Sara’s house.
Just when Sara thought that they were going to crash into it, Clara suddenly slowed
down, and with an elegant move, slid inside the open window.

Chapter 3
“OOPS! I think I chose the wrong window!” – said Clara, landing softly unto the
“Where are we?” – asked Sara, climbing off Clara‘s back.
“I’m not sure. But it could be that we’re in the attic of your house,” said Clara
“How can it be that I’ve never seen this place before, even though it’s just one
flight up from my bedroom?” – wondered Sara.
They were standing in a large room. The ceiling was very high, as in a church.
The space was cluttered with all kinds of old things that looked like they may have
once been useful, but whose use had long ago expired. Dust was everywhere.
And… and… they were not alone! Just about everywhere – on crossbeams, floors
and ledges – were birds. A large number of birds: pigeons, sparrows, finches,
crows, and even birds Sara had never seen before.
It appeared that they had interrupted a loud and serious bird discussion about
something extremely important – arguing like politicians on TV. Or, at least, that’s
how it SEEMED. Somehow the birds appeared to be much bigger and much more
threatening to Clara than any birds she had ever seen in the park. And it was clear
that the place belonged to these big birds, or at least they seemed to think it did.
There was a big, long pause…

“Good morning!” – said Clara, trying her best to sound carefree and calm.
“Good morning! I am your neighbor from the fourth floor. How are you?” – added
Silence ensued. Sara didn’t like that at all. Clara pinched Sara’s leg and pointed to
Sara’s pockets. Sara understood immediately, without words. She briskly pulled
out four or five cookies from her pocket and put them in front of the birds.

“Here are our gifts to the inhabitants of this beautiful place!” – exclaimed Clara
jubilantly. “In case you’re wondering… we’re only here for a short visit.
Just to look around. You see, I’ve never been here before, even though I live one
floor down. Only one floor…” continued Sara, rather shyly.
After another long pause a few of the birds came closer, looking around
suspiciously. But, not being able to resist the delicious smell of the cookies, they
started to poke at them with their beaks. Poke… poke… poke… Soon others
followed, which resulted in a rather big commotion and a lot of noise. Nobody
seemed to pay attention to Sara and Clara anymore.
“Let’s go!” – whispered Clara.
“Where to?” – asked Sara, in a hushed voice.
“Well, how about the very end of the attic? Maybe there is another open window

there. Somehow I get the creepy feeling that they don’t really like us here,”
admitted Clara.
“Yes – my thoughts exactly!” – answered Sara, vigorously nodding her head.
They both rushed ahead to the very end of the attic. No other windows were open.
But there was another unexpected turn at the end of the attic – a small hidden space
under the lower roof beams. And right there was a big box. And on the box,
covered with a thick layer of dust, was written with chalk – THE BOX. Sara and
Clara stopped cold, looking at the box – and each other stupefied.
“Now what?” – asked Sara.
Clara didn’t answer. From the sounds in the distance it was clear that the birds had
finished up their cookies – and now an insatiable greed had overtaken them.
“I suppose we don’t have much of a choice!” – said Clara pointing to THE BOX.
Angry chirping gurgling fluttering sounds came closer and closer.
“Let’s do it!” – shouted Sara.

They both opened the lid of THE BOX and climbed into it, all covered with dust,
firmly closing the lid. Inside was as dark as dark can be. The big boundless
silence enveloped them. Without thinking, Sara & Clara clutched each other
firmly. And then the most unbelievable thing happened.
Without any notice, the bottom of THE BOX gave in and they both found
themselves falling – spiralling down into endless space.
They lost each other.
It seemed the fall would never end.
But it did. And with a heavy thud Sara fell deep into something soft.
And passed out.

Chapter 4
Sara came to herself when she couldn’t breathe anymore. With instinctive jerky
movements she groped her way up to something-or-other. Finally, when she
thought her lungs were about to burst, she reached the surface and gulped
desperately for air. After a while she calmed down and looked around.
Sara looked around for a quite a while. In all directions. Then she closed her eyes
and opened them. Then she closed her eyes again. And opened them again.
Nothing changed. Slowly, as if awakening from sleep, thoughts started to
formulate in her confused mind.
“How did I get here? HOW?” – wondered Sara.
“So… the last thing I can remember is… I was in THE BOX in the attic of my
house. And inside THE BOX it was very dark. VERY! And then something
happened. But WHAT? Oh, somebody – HELP ME!” Sara cried out in despair.
She waited. But no one came.
“Where am I now? What is this place?” Sara wondered, a bit more calmly. “OK.
It looks like a desert… at least this is what the deserts on TV look like. But
somehow it isn’t, either. As far as I can see there are endless hills of sand all
around. But here… HERE – there is no sun and the sky is gray. Do I feel
ANYTHING? Do I feel cold? Do I feel hot? I can’t tell… Why am I here anyway?
WHY? Somebody – please answer me!”
And suddenly, with an overwhelming clarity, Sara remembered everything.
“Oh… Oh, my dear… CLARA! CLARA! Where are you?” yelled Sara at the top of
her lungs.

There was no answer. Just a dull echo from the adjacent sand hills. For the first
time in her life Sara felt really scared. She jumped up on her feet. Wildly, she
started to run around in all directions, screaming as she ran in ever-widening
“Clara! Clara! Where are you? Clara, can you here me? Please answer me!
PLEASE! I need you so much! CLARA!”
After some time Sara stopped running and shouting and sat down on the sand. She
started to sob. She cried as she had never cried before.

No longer thinking of what she was doing, Sara started walking ahead aimlessly,
leaving a path of tears in the dry sand.
Exhausted, Sara stopped in her tracks and closed her eyes. Her head was reeling.
Out of nowhere, high above in the gray sky, as in a bad joke, as vivid as in her
dream, towered Star-O-Fun. In all his confident glory. Sputtering as always:
“Clara! Sara! Listen to me! LISTEN! Some things are unavoidable. Don’t lose
your courage! Your courage!”

And then Star-O-Fun disappeared again. Sara was wondering what just took place,
when she heard another voice:
“Sara! Sara! Where are you? Help me! Help me!” cried a familiar voice.
Sara opened her eyes and looked in the direction where the voice seemed to come
from – and spotted Clara in the distance, lying on her side, deep in the sand.
With a joyful cry of disbelief she ran to Clara and started to kiss her.
“Clara! Clara! You are still alive! I thought I would never see you again. Oh,
God, I was so miserable and lonely and scared!”
“Careful, Sara, careful! I think I strained one of my wings. It hurts quite a bit…
Sara, darling, I am so glad to see you too! I was beginning to think it was all over
with me.”
“Clara, tell me, what is happening? Where are we? What’s going on? Do you
know” – wondered Sara.

“Sara, help me get up! Please, I simply can’t do it on my own,” said Clara, weakly.
“Oh, of course, Clara, of course!”
Sara dug Clara out from the sand and had just stood her up on all fours, so to say,
when the sand started to vibrate, as if it had become alive.
“Oooooooh, Sara, Sara, look, look back! Look back!” – shouted Clara.
Sara did so. And she saw something she couldn’t have imagined in her wildest





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