This is the first chapter of a 9-chapter novella by teenager Arden Calhoun. We’ll publish more installments of this story in weeks to come.


“You’re doing great, Johanna,” said Mr. Ron, the music teacher at Green Leaf Academy, the boarding school Johanna attended, “Keep practicing—I have to go check in with another student.”

“Okay,” Johanna replied, and turned back to the piano. She was learning a new song, and it was really tricky, especially because she wasn’t feeling very well. Her best friends Lauren and Lizzie were also in the room with her.

“That sounded awesome,” said Lauren.

“Yes, it was!” chimed in Lizzie, “I’ve got to go check on something. Lauren, want to come? We’ll be right back—keep practicing!” Johanna managed a tight smile and a nod, and the two friends left. As soon as the door closed, though, Johanna doubled over. She wasn’t sick, though—something strange, perhaps even magical, was happening, and she could feel it, her heart beating loudly in her ears, pulsing hard through her entire body.

Then it happened. Her nails started to grow long and pointy, purple scales grew across her belly, and small scaly triangles popped up along her back. Her feet changed to paws with giant claws, and the same thing happened with her hands—how could she play piano now? After that, a tail started growing, also scaly, but green. The last thing that happened was big, bat-like wings sprouting from her back, and by then it was clear. Johanna had become a dragon.

Well, the first thing that crossed Johanna’s mind was how cool this was! She would be able to fly! Then she remembered that she was in a music room at school, and the next feeling was minor panic, thinking How do I get out of here? Johanna took ten deep breaths to calm herself down, but just as she got to the ninth one, the door handle turned.

“Wait! Who is it?” Johanna cried out in alarm.

“It’s just us,” Lizzie replied, sounding confused.

“Okay, then,” Johanna answered after a pause for thought, “I have a little…surprise. Close your eyes and then come in, alright?”

“Alright,” replied Lizzie, unsure of what was about to happen, and the friends entered, their eyes closed as they shut the door behind them.

“Lauren, Lizzie, what happened while you were gone is crazy, so please don’t scream. Promise me you won’t freak out?” said Johanna after the handle latched.

“We promise,” the girls answered, and they opened their eyes.

Both stood there, staring, completely mind-boggled. Lauren was the first to speak.

“Who are you, and what have you done with Johanna?” she choked.

“Can’t you see? I am Johanna. I don’t know how this happened but I turned into a dragon somehow. Look at my eyes. They’re still the same,” replied Johanna. Lizzie took a wobbly step forward to look. She glanced back at Lauren, shocked.

“She’s right, Lauren. Come and look!” Lauren went over to take a peek.

“Okay, so our friend Johanna is now a dragon. What do we do? I really don’t want you to end up as a science experiment,” Lauren said.

“Can you try to turn back into a human?” asked Lizzie.

“I’ll give it a shot,” replied Johanna. She closed her eyes, imagined her human self, and wished to be that again. Suddenly, there was a poof of purple smoke, and Johanna found herself on her hands and knees, her human hands and knees, and stood up. She rushed to her friends, and gave them a hug, but didn’t feel their hands on her back where she expected to. Instead, she felt them farther out. She turned around slowly to look behind her, just as the door handle turned.

12 thoughts on “Battle in the Skies by Arden Calhoun

  1. It kept my attention as I waited to see what would happen next! Thanks, Arden! Loved it!

  2. What a great first chapter! I think it’s so interesting that Johanna is figuring out what’s happening to her alongside the audience. How much control will she have over these transformations? What can she do with her newfound powers? Will she ever finish her piano practice? I can’t wait to find out!

    1. You’ll find out in the weeks to come, Ellen! A new chapter will be out each week. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

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