I opened the window and felt a cool breeze entering my room, making my lips curled upwards. After months of the harsh winter, I gleaned as the snow started to melt, leaving behind of emerald green patches as a grand entrance for the lovely spring season. As I waved goodbye to my aunt who was standing in front of the door, I ambled on the way to school, picking up some lost trinkets that were buried in the snow.
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A shiny gold ring, a large shovel which Mr Siva must have been looking for the past three months, and numerous strange objects which I would stumble whenever the snow starts to melt.
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As the years went by, my curiosity about where these bones came from began to grow as I suspected something sinister lurking in the dark forest, waiting to pounce its victims. Whenever I asked Aunt Inara about where those bones came from, she would just shrug and claimed that it was the coyote's meal but I don't believe it.
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"Bugsy," Mrs Grey called, snapping me back to reality. "Could you explain to me how do we find the hypotenuse of a right-angled triangle."
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I took a deep breath and took white chalk on the teacher's desk, and wrote the answer. "The formula of the Pythagorean theorem is a² + b²=c² and after we find the initial answer, we have to square root it to get the final answer, which is 10."
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"The answer is correct," Mrs Grey praised. "And can you tell me why is Pythagorean theorem is important?"
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"It builds critical thinking," I guessed. "You're close, Bugsy," said Mrs Grey. "But your answer is too general."
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I pouted my lips as I sat down on my desk, flustered. "Can anyone explain to me why the Pythagorean theorem is important?"
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Lisa raised her hands. "We can use Pythagorean theorem for building something."
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"That's good, Lisa," Mrs Grey clapped in an enthusiastic manner. "Can you explain it to me?"
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"Let's say you're building a sloped roof," she explained. "If you know the height of the roof and the length for it to cover, you can use the Pythagorean theorem to find the diagonal length of the roof's slope. That way, you could cut properly sized beams to support the roof."
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"Thank you, Lisa," Mrs Grey grinned. "Yes, one of the importance of Pythagorean theorem is to construct a building. Anyone else can explain the importance?"
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"It's good for navigation," Archie answered. "For example, if you are at sea and navigating to a point that is 300 miles north and 400 miles west, you can use the theorem to find the distance from your ship to that point and calculate how many degrees to the west of north you would need to follow to reach that point."
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The whole class erupted with applause as Archie held out his arms opened, gleaming. I rolled my eyes, only for the bell to rang. "We'll continue our lessons next week," said Mrs Grey, hanging her sling bag on her shoulder. "Have a nice weekend."
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We walked out of the school building and ambled on the dirt road, chit-chatting. "You alright, Bugsy?" asked Ferdinand. "Can't believe I screwed up in math class," I beat myself up. "You answered the question correctly, Bugsy," Naomi chuckled. "However, you couldn't apply the Pythagorean theorem in real life."
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"Thanks for pointing that out, Naomi," I groaned. "God, if only I wasn't distracted by the stupid bones I found this morning."
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Ferdinand let out a harsh cough. "I'm sorry, what?"
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"When the snow started melting, I ended up finding lots of bones."
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"Where do they come from?" Naomi questioned me.
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"My aunt told me those were the coyote's leftover meal but I doubt it."
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"Oh my gosh, another murder mystery."
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"Sounds fun," Ferdinand squealed. "We should do this after lunch."
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"I agree," Naomi nodded. "I'll get us some torchlight and a compass."
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I sighed and protested. "But you might get yourself kill."
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"Bugsy," Ferdinand gave me a playful punch on my shoulder. "Don't worry about it. We've done this numerous times anyways."
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We stepped inside the forest, holding each other's hands for assurance. Surrounded by the enormous pine tree with thinner snowy cushion, the frost that sprouted on flowers began to fade as a few marigolds bloomed and danced merrily.
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Picking up a trace of bones, we headed up north of the woods, hoping to find more answers. As the ray of the sun began to grow dimmer, I suddenly stopped on our track, making my friends to bumped into me from behind. I opened my legs a little wider to avoid falling on the rocky path. "What's wrong, Bugsy?" Ferdinand gave me a puzzled look. "I don't know," I shook the head. "I know it sounds strange but I swear to God I'm telling the truth."
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"Did you see something horrible?" wondered Naomi. I denied. "I don't even know what's going on."
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Then, a luminous glow appeared in front of me, making my eyes squint. "The will-o-the-wisps."
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"Hey there, little fella," he waved his hands. "We're kinda lost and it would be kind of you to lead the way for us."
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In a flash, the wisps paved us a path and urged us to follow them without hesitation. "Looks like our journey begins," said Naomi, adjusting her bag.
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Following the trail of the will-o-the-wisps, all three of us formed a human chain which I led. The surrounding of the forest turned cold as the colour of the trees turned jet black and all the flower bed vanished in front of our eyes. Our site grew foggier as we climbed the rocky hill, filled with cracks and ruined buildings.
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As the trail of the wisps stopped, the fog cleared up, revealing an enormous cave. Naomi headed towards the right side of the cave and picked up a coyote's skull, to my disgust. "Does anyone have a camera?" she asked. "I took out a small camera from my pocket and took a picture of Naomi holding a coyote's head. "Did you take it?"
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I nodded. "Remind me to get the pictures processed at Ms Blyton's."
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Naomi gave me a thumbs up and switched open her flashlight, signalling us to enter the cave. Taking my first footsteps inside the gloomy cave, my jaws dropped as I saw millions of bats squeaking, covering its eyes as Naomi flashed her light towards them. Ferdinand placed his hands on the brownish stalagmite and asked me to photograph it.
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On the cave's wall, I saw a painting, depicting a group of men and women farming on a ranch with livestock inside around the gate and a cornfield beside them. Naomi shone her flashlight upwards and saw a man cooking another man, leading us to a small transformation of a man morphing into a giant spider.
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"Reminds me of the story my mom told me," Ferdinand stated. "What was the story about?" I asked.
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"There was a man who was lost in the forest, so one day when he was starving, he saw another man and then he cooked and ate him for dinner."
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"Disgusting," Naomi commented. "Then what happens?"
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"For days, fur appeared all over his as his thirst for his own kind grew, making him grow extra legs and extra eyes."
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"So he became a spider?"
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"Not just any spider," Ferdinand specified. "The man became a crypt spider, a giant, man-eating spider."
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I shivered. "I don't think I want to meet this crypt spider."
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In a moment, a large shadow loomed over me, revealing a giant, fur-coated spider. Its bloodshot eyes stared menacingly as it drooled blood from its claw-shaped mouth that dripped on the cave's floor. I swallowed a huge lump of saliva as we walked backwards, only to stumble on a stalagmite.
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The crypt spider shrieked at our faces and we bolted out of the case, with the arachnid creature tailing us from behind. As we ran down the hill, I felt a sharp pain on the left side of my abdomen as my left leg began to ache, slowing me down.
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Out of the blue, the spider pounced on me from behind and I fell on the muddy ground. Tackling the spider's leg with both hands, it pushed itself towards my face and tried to bite me with its long fangs, only to miss several times. As I exerted all of my strength against the spider, one of its holes squirted white liquid on my legs, glueing it together. I attempted to push the cobwebs apart only for the spider to be kicked by Naomi.
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Ferdinand lifted me like a bride and ran, leaving Naomi to fend off the spider with her martial art skills. I watched as she kicked the spider's arm and punched one of it's a leg, making the spider screamed. As she was about to jump on the spider's body, the arachnid creature bit her hand, provoking Naomi's kick on it's a mouth.
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Holding the hands that were bitten, she soon caught up with us and urged both of us to hurry, only to find ourselves at the edge of the river bank. I panted as I saw the spider landed and cornered us by the river.
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"I think we should jump," I panicked. "Are you mad?" Ferdinand shouted. "We'll die of hypothermia."
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"Well, spiders can climb trees so we don't have any choice."
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In a flash, we splashed ourselves inside the deep, icy river and closed our eyes. Holding our breath, we prayed for the crypt spider to leave while enduring the freezing cold water.
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A few minutes passed and I bobbed my head out of the water and sighed in relief as there was no sight of the spider. We climbed out of the riverbank, shivering. Our teeth rattled as we hugged ourselves while walking back home from the forest at dusk, with our bodies lusting for the heat source.
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When we reached Ferdinand's farmhouse, we stripped our jacket and lied in front of the fireplace, to Mrs Ong's dismay. She rushed to the kitchen and prepared us warm water, lecturing all of us for being careless. "You know jumping in water during the cold water could kill you," she scolded. "You guys should've known better."
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"It won't happen again, mom," Ferdinand pleaded. "I promise."
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As his mother walked upstairs, Naomi lifted the sleeves of her pink shirt and glanced at her wound, wrapping it around with her handkerchief. "At least we're safe and sound," she assured us.
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