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"The Totem Thief" by Krishna Natarajan: May 2024 1st Place


In the small town of Sammamish, life was as predictable as the sunrise. That was until one day when the town's cherished totem mysteriously vanished overnight.


The sun rose that morning, casting long shadows on the empty ground where the totem once stood. When the news reached the ears of the townsfolk, they were dumbfounded. The totem had been an important part of Sammamish’s identity for decades. It was a gift from Chief Patkanim, the leader of the Snoqualmie tribe, as a symbol of friendship. Among the concerned citizens was Steve, a teenager with a keen interest in history and mysteries.


Steve and his friends decided to investigate. They started interviewing locals, collecting stories, and finding odd occurrences. They discovered a symbol etched into the ground where the totem once stood. It was an ancient Native American symbol, meaning 'transition'. This clue indicated that the disappearance was more than a simple theft.


As they dived deeper into this puzzling mystery, they unearthed an old prophecy. The prophecy stated that when the totem vanished, it would signify great change for Sammamish, though it didn’t mention what that change was. It did, however, mention that the change would be for the better.

Steve and his friends weren’t the only ones trying to solve this mystery. Citizens started a volunteer program to patrol the city, and surprisingly many signed up to protect Sammamish. A few others traveled to nearby cities in search of the totem. Everyone was trying to help.


A week later, the totem reappeared as mysteriously as it disappeared. However it had new carvings that signified unity. Steve and his friends concluded that the disappearance of the totem was a symbolic act done by someone who wanted to remind the town of its roots. Steve realized that during the time that the totem was gone, the whole town came together to solve the mystery, which might be why someone took it.



The vanishing of the totem initially caused distress, but it ended up bringing the community together. It served as a reminder of their city’s history, making Sammamish stronger.


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