The family stepped out of the portal and found themselves in the middle of a lush, green forest. The trees were covered in blankets of green moss and their trunks were thick as dinosaur legs. When Lilly tried to hug one, it was like hugging a wooden wall.
“Let’s get moving,” the father said, and everyone followed him through the forest.
They walked a few minutes before making it to a pond where seven giant lily pads were floating on the surface in one line. And at the end of the line, to the family’s surprise, was the next portal. It was already open. But the family would have a hard time getting across because sitting on the lily pads, staring at the family with unblinking black eyes, were seven giant green frogs with red bulls-eyes on their throats.
“How are we gonna get to the portal?” asked Max.
“We have to get these frogs out of the way,” said the father. “They all have bulls-eyes. Maybe this is Serena’s world.”
Serena shook her head. “My world was the first one, remember?”
Then Mike laughed and cartwheeled to the edge of the pond. “This is my world! Everybody sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!” He whipped out a ninja star, did a little dance in front of the first frog in line, then tossed his star at its throat. The star bounced off and the frog croaked angrily. The star didn’t pierce its skin, but the frog hopped off the pad and dove into the water.
“Haha!” Mike cried, throwing his fist in the air. “Told ya! I’m the best! Watch me work.” He tossed a ninja star at the next frog, already getting ready to do another victory dance, but this time, the frog snatched the star in mid-air in its tongue and swallowed it whole. The family watched in shock, but Mike didn’t see what happened because he’d already turned around and started shaking his rear end at the frog. The frog croaked and spit the ninja star back at him, coated with green slime. The star smacked into Mike’s rear end and knocked him forward on his face.
“What was that?” he said, scrambling to his feet. “What happened?”
“Whoa, that’s some serious spit!” Max yelled.
“Not as serious as this!” Mike said, swinging three more stars at the frog. The frog’s tongue came out like a whip and caught all three, one after the other. Then it spit them all back again and the slimy stars smacked into Mike’s stomach, chest, and face.
“You don’t look too good,” Serena chuckled, pointing to the green goop sliding down his cheeks.
“Let me try,” said Max, pulling out his own star.
“No!” Mike shouted, knocking Max’s star out of his hand. “I can do this! None of you can do it like me!”
He tried again with six stars this time and all six of them were spit back into him with splashes of slime again.
The father rubbed his chin as he watched Mike. “I think I see the problem.”
He looked at Jay then pointed at the frogs. Jay shrugged and pulled out his hammer.
“It’s not gonna work!” Mike started saying. “You’re not as good—”
But Jay tossed his hammer and it hit the frog right in the throat, then bounced off and landed back on the shore of the pond. The frog croaked then hopped off and dove into the pond.
Mike’s jaw dropped. “What?”
The father threw his sword at the next frog and it sank deeper into its throat then bounced back to him. The frog croaked then leapt off too.
Mike watched in disbelief as Lilly went next, then his mother, and finally Serena fired an arrow at the last frog on the last lily pad. Now all of the pads were clear and the open portal was waiting for them on the other side. Mike sighed and hung his head.
His father came up behind him and put his hand on his shoulder. “We all need help sometimes, son. No one’s perfect.”
“Let’s go,” the father said, jumping onto the first lily pad. He hopped away and the family followed him to the other side then jumped into the portal.