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       Time Warp Trio: Wushu Were Here, p.1

           Jon Scieszka
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Time Warp Trio: Wushu Were Here

  Time Warp Trio™

  Wushu Were Here

  Time Warp Trio created by

  Jon Scieszka

  Adapted by

  Jennifer Frantz

  Adapted from the teleplay by

  Raye Lankford


  Chapter 1

  “So you are afraid to fight? Perhaps you fear that…

  Chapter 2

  Poor Fred. He never saw it coming. I blame it…

  Chapter 3

  So that’s how we got to ancient China. Now Fred…

  Chapter 4

  “Firewood,” Tanzong called out as he entered the city center.

  Chapter 5

  The unfriendly guys with the spears escorted Fred, Anna, and…

  Chapter 6

  Outside, Fred, Anna, Li Shimin, and I were lined up against…

  Chapter 7

  “What’s all the commotion? I can’t see what’s going on,”…

  Chapter 8

  “Are we there yet?” Anna said.

  Chapter 9

  I found Anna and Fred, and we quickly set off…

  Chapter 10

  Anna, Fred, and I must have been going for a…

  Chapter 11

  “That was a close one,” I said.


  About the Publisher


  “So you are afraid to fight? Perhaps you fear that you are not strong enough?” a voice said.

  Anna, Fred, and I peeked out from the skinny bamboo trees we were hiding behind. In a small clearing we saw two angry-looking guys dressed in ancient-looking Chinese robes. They were both holding wooden fighting staffs and looked ready to rumble.

  “Not strong enough?” the second guy replied. “I’ll show you strength. HEEYAAH!”

  He swung his fighting staff at angry guy number one. The end of the staff smacked into the ground with a thud. Angry guy number one had vanished into thin air.

  Suddenly he reappeared right beside angry guy number two.

  “AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!” Angry Two screamed as if he’d seen a ghost. He dropped his staff and fled in shock.

  “Go to your village!” Angry One yelled. “Send me your best fighters and I will test their strength.”

  Then he picked up the other staff on the ground. He looked a little disappointed that the fight hadn’t lasted longer.

  “Is there no one in China who is up to the task?” he said to no one in particular. He tossed Angry Two’s staff into the air, sending it flying in Fred’s direction.

  “Ow! Hey!” Fred yelled. “It’s raining weapons.” He picked up the staff that had just smacked him on the head. “Hey, Joe,” he said, showing it to me. “Look at this cool fighting staff!”

  Fred swung the staff wildly and struck his best kung fu pose.

  “Maybe you should put that down,” Anna suggested.

  I gave Anna a look. It was her fault we were in this mess—stuck in the middle of a forest in ancient China with Fred waving a weapon and an angry Chinese warrior guy five feet away.

  “This is all because you went digging in my things,” I said.

  “Well, I wouldn’t have dug,” Anna said, “if you’d just told me what wushu is.”

  “Silence!” a voice screamed.

  Angry One had spotted us. “You,” he said, looking at Fred. “You will go first.”

  Fred looked at his staff and then back at the angry guy who was now in a fighting stance. “Something tells me we’re not playing stickball,” Fred said.

  Angry One pulled his knee into his chest and then slid in Fred’s direction. Fred ducked. Anna and I dived back toward our bamboo hiding place.

  Fred tried to stand up, but suddenly Angry One was an inch from his face.

  “Wha…?” Fred cried.

  “You are fast, my friend,” Angry One said. “But not fast enough.”

  “KYAAAAAAH!” He whipped his staff at Fred, who fell to the ground.

  Anna and I ran to Fred. “Are you okay?” I asked.

  No reply. Fred wasn’t moving.

  “Wake up!” Anna cried.

  Angry One looked down at us with an evil stare. “I have finished off your friend,” he said. “Who is next?”


  Poor Fred. He never saw it coming. I blame it all on that kung fu movie….

  We were back in Brooklyn hanging out in my room, watching a movie about these two guys from seventh-century China, Li Shimin and Wang.

  “I knew you were behind this, Wang.”

  “Where are your monks when you need them, Li Shimin?”

  See, Li Shimin was the good guy who’d been kidnapped by Wang, the bad guy. Now Li Shimin’s thirteen monk friends were going to take on Wang’s entire army to get their pal back. But at the moment, Li Shimin and Wang were going to duke it out man-to-man.

  They both raised their fighting staffs.

  “Awesome!” Fred said. “Time for an old-fashioned booty-whoopin’, kung fu–style.”

  Li Shimin and Wang slid carefully around each other like two cobras waiting to strike.

  Suddenly…whap, whap. The staffs slammed into each other. They battled back and forth for a few minutes.

  Then Wang landed a real whammy. Li Shimin was about to crumple. Then…

  “Do you suffer from uncontrollable drooling? Well, now there’s help.”

  “Oh, man,” I said.

  “There’s always a commercial just at the exciting part.”

  “Is the good guy really dead?” Anna asked.

  “Nah,” Fred said. “He’s the hero. They’d never kill the hero in the first five minutes.”

  Fred jumped up into his own kung fu stance. “That guy playing Li Shimin is so cool,” he said. “He’s got great wushu.” Fred did a wild kick, knocking over the lamp on my desk.

  “‘Wushu?’ What’s that?” Anna asked.

  Fred ignored Anna and chopped at the air. “I’d love to try out some wushu on my older brother, Mike. WAAAAYAAAAAH.”

  “What is wushu?” Anna asked again.

  “You know,” Sam said, “kung fu isn’t about attacking your enemies; it’s about using your enemy’s own energy against them.”

  Sam had his nose in a history book. As usual, he was more than happy to share the information.

  Fred was about to attempt a roundhouse kick when his watch began beeping loudly.

  “I wish I could figure out how to turn this thing off,” Fred said. He tried pushing one button. Then another. And another. Finally, the watch was quiet.

  “Would someone please tell me what wushu is?” Anna cried.

  I would have answered her question…if driving her crazy weren’t so much fun. Besides I had my own questions.

  “Hey, Sam,” I said. “Did thirteen monks really take on a whole army? Or did they make that up for the movie?”

  Sam flipped through the pages of the history book. “Li Shimin is in here, but it doesn’t say anything about the thirteen monks.”

  “Hey,” I said, “I bet it’s in The Book.” I headed toward “the safe” to get it.

  Sam looked up, panicked. “Joe,” he said. “Don’t even think about it. You know what’ll happen. We’ll warp, get in trouble, and the next thing you know someone will be trying to chop our heads off.”

  He had a point. The Book had gotten us into a few scrapes in the past. I got it as a birthday present from my uncle Joe on my tenth birthday. It’s basically a time machine—it can transport us to any place and time in history. While that sounds really cool, there is one problem: Whenever we travel through time, The Book has a habit of disappearing. And without it, there is no way to get back home. But I really wanted to know about those
monks. I opened the safe and gasped.

  “What?” Fred and Sam asked at the same time.

  “The Book—it’s gone!” I cried.

  “Wushu,” Anna said. “Literally translated, wu means ‘martial’ and shu means ‘art.’ In other words, the study of the art of fighting.”

  Fred, Sam, and I looked over to see Anna…reading from The Book.

  Sam froze.

  “Hey,” I said. “Where’d you get that?”

  “From that cardboard box you keep it in,” Anna said.

  “The safe!” I cried.

  “That’s supposed to be a safe?” Anna said.

  I was about to throttle her, when Fred interrupted.

  “Does it say anything about the monks?” he asked.

  Anna flipped the page and pointed. “Oh, look. That thing with the thirteen monks really did happen. They broke Li Shimin out of prison. Wang was—”

  “That’s my book!” I yelled.

  “I’m just looking,” Anna said.

  Clearly her little-sister brain was not grasping what I was saying. Time for action. I tried to yank The Book out of her hands.

  “Hey!” Anna cried, holding on tightly.

  “I don’t go digging through your things,” I said. “How’d you like it if I raided your diary?”

  “That’s different,” Anna said.

  “Hey…uh…guys,” a small voice said. It was Sam. “Guys, don’t pull on The Book. Don’t pull…”

  But Anna and I were too busy with our tug-of-war to pay much attention.

  “Tear that book,” Sam said loudly, “and you could rip the entire space-time continuum!”

  Just as I gave The Book a giant tug, Anna let go. My arm flew back and The Book went with it, smashing into Sam. A flash of green light erupted from it, blinding us.

  I looked down. My body was still there. Phew. We hadn’t warped.

  “We’re still here,” I said. “Sorry, Sam. I think I whacked you pretty hard with The Book.”

  I turned around. “Sam?”

  Sam was gone.

  “Help! Help!” A muffled sound was coming from The Book. I opened it up. There—on the same page as Li Shimin—was Sam.

  “What happened? Where am I?” shrunken Sam cried. “Get me out of here.” I couldn’t believe it—Sam was trapped in The Book.

  Anna, Fred, and I looked down at The Book. We’d had a lot of weird adventures before, but this was a first.

  “He must be stuck mid-warp,” Anna said.

  “Don’t worry,” I told Sam. “We’ll get you out.”

  Fred poked at the page, trying to help. “Ow, watch it,” Sam said.

  Green mist started seeping out of The Book.

  “Stop poking it,” Anna said. “You’re going to make us warp.”

  It was too late. In a bright green flash, we all disappeared.


  So that’s how we got to ancient China. Now Fred was dead, and Anna and I were face-to-face with a crazed madman with some serious wushu.

  “‘Finished him off,’” Anna said, repeating Angry One’s words. She glared at him. “He’s just a kid. How could you kill him?”

  “I…I…that’s not what I meant,” Angry One said.

  “Fred never did anything to you,” Anna said. “He was just minding his own business when, bam, you challenge him to a fight. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

  There was no stopping her now. Anna was all fired up, and the angry guy was getting an earful.

  “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size,” Anna said. “You know what you are—”

  Fred tapped her shoulder.

  “Have you seen my other shoe?” he asked.

  “Back there, where he killed you,” Anna said, waving her hand behind her.

  Still glaring at Angry One, she continued her rant. “You’re just a big bully. Fred never…”

  Then it hit her.

  “Fred?!” Anna said.

  “Look! He’s alive,” I said, clapping Fred on the back.

  “Ow, ow, ow. Careful,” Fred said.

  Angry One came over.

  He looked a little less scary now.

  “What I meant to say,” he explained, “is that I could have killed him. But I am a Shaolin monk, and a monk never kills. He only uses his opponent’s energy against him.”

  “That’s what Sam said,” I said. “Sam. Where is he?”

  “Where’s The Book?” Anna asked.

  Sam was stuck in The Book, so wherever The Book was, Sam was, too. And right now The Book was…lost.

  The monk turned to Fred. “My apologies,” he said. “Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Tanzong. I thought you were a volunteer for the army I am raising to fight Wang.”

  “Who’s Wang?” Fred asked.

  “Wang Shichong is the man who calls himself emperor,” Tanzong said. “I call him a bloodthirsty villain.”

  “Hey, Joe,” Fred whispered. “Wasn’t Wang the bad guy from the movie?”

  Fred was right. This was all starting to sound familiar.

  Tanzong continued. “Wang has taken General Li Shimin—the son of the rightful emperor—prisoner. Unless the Shaolin monks find a way to rescue him, Li Shimin will be executed and the country will descend into bloodshed.”

  “But these are not your concerns,” Tanzong said. He picked up the extra fighting staff from the ground.

  “May Lord Buddha protect you on your journey,” he added. Then Tanzong bowed and walked away.

  “Hmm…Li Shimin,” Anna said. “That’s what I was reading about when we warped.”

  “And that’s the page Sam was stuck on in The Book,” I said.

  “If we find Li Shimin,” Fred said, “we might find…”

  “…The Book!” Anna said.

  We had to get to Li Shimin and to Sam, before someone else did.

  “Wait!” we called out, as we raced off after Tanzong.


  “Firewood,” Tanzong called out as he entered the city center. “Firewood for sale!”

  He was dressed like a peasant with a big pointed hat and a fake beard. Fred, Anna, and I were stuffed like sardines into a large basket slung across his back, pretending to be firewood.

  See, a good plan always involves two things: (1) a costume and (2) being really uncomfortable. And Tanzong’s plan to sneak us into the city to find Li Shimin and The Book was no different.

  After he had passed through the city gate, Tanzong ducked out of sight and opened the lid of the basket.

  “Here,” he said, handing Fred two pieces of flint. “Once you have found Li Shimin, use this flint to set off a smoke signal. We will follow the smoke and free you.”

  He tipped the basket on its side so we could crawl out. In front of us was a stone building with barred windows. The prison. That’s where we’d find Li Shimin and (hopefully) The Book.

  “Remember,” Tanzong said, “a monk does not kill, but Wang does. You must all be very careful.” With that, he disappeared.

  Fred, Anna, and I quickly shimmied through some open windows, ending up in an empty hallway in the prison.

  “Okay,” Fred said. “Let’s go over the plan. We sneak around the prison until we find The Book—”

  “And Sam,” Anna said.

  “—which is probably with this Li Shimin dude,” Fred continued. “We set off the smoke signal. Tanzong flies in and rescues us, bam, we warp back, catch the end of the movie, and find out how the big battle of the thirteen monks turns out.”

  Maybe Fred had seen a few too many action movies.

  “Let’s synchronize our watches,” Fred said.

  Okay, he’d definitely seen too many action movies.

  Fred started playing with his watch, and it began beeping wildly.

  “Turn it off!” I hissed. “I’m trying!” Fred said. Fred frantically pushed more buttons. Finally, the beeping stopped.

  “Whew!” Fred said. “All right, let’s—”

p; But before Fred could finish his sentence, there were some very sharp spears pointing in our direction.


  The unfriendly guys with the spears escorted Fred, Anna, and I to our new home—a stone prison cell. Another prisoner sat slumped in the corner, but this wasn’t exactly time for polite introductions.

  “‘Synchronize our watches?’” I asked, glaring at Fred.

  “It seemed like a prison-break-y thing to do,” Fred explained.

  “Maybe if we set off the smoke signal, Tanzong could come and get us,” Anna suggested.

  “Yeah,” I said. “But then we’d just have to break in again. We still haven’t found The Book, or Sam—or Li Shimin.”

  The prisoner in the corner turned to look at us. He was a young man in his early twenties. “You are looking for Li Shimin?” he asked.

  “Yeah,” Fred said. “Do you know him? We’re here to bust him out of jail.”

  “I am Li Shimin,” the prisoner said, eyeing Fred.

  Fred gave the guy a once-over, then leaned toward me. “The guy in the movie was much older,” he whispered.

  “You’re the big general they’re all talking about?” I asked the prisoner. He didn’t look the part.

  “You’re the big rescuers they sent?” He had a point.

  But arguing was just wasting time. We had to break out.

  “What about The Book?” I asked. “You’ve got it, right?”

  “Book?” Li Shimin said. “I don’t have any books. Wang has taken everything from me.”

  “Maybe it’s around here somewhere,” Anna said.

  We started looking around the cell, but aside from some dirty straw on the floor, it was pretty empty.

  “I better start that smoke signal,” Fred said, pulling the pieces of flint from his pocket. He walked over to the barred window and began fiddling with the flint.

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