What Lies Beneath

By Allie Cox (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

While resting on the jagged rock, I heard something in the distance. My body jumped and my heart raced. Beginning to slowly walk backwards, away from the noise, I could make out the footstep like sound getting faster and closer. I turned around and sprinted, only to come to an eerie wooden door that blocked my path. It was covered in vines, with patches of aged timber. It seemed sketchy, but I had a feeling whatever was on the other side was better than here.

The door opened away from me and I could hear the bustling of the leaves being pushed out of the way. I crept through the entry way and slammed it shut behind me.

Before me in this mysterious place was a field of unusual mushrooms. The tops of these blooming plants resembled the head of Toad from Mario Kart, big, round, red and white. I plopped down on one and tried to catch my breath. It was then that my seat started to shake and emerging from a tiny door within the stem was a furious gnome. The feeling of safety was no longer with me. He was screaming with cheeks as red as his glistening pointed hat, and a beard white as snow, long, covering most of his blue blazer. I began to tremble with fear.

“And what do you think you’re doing, you giant,” questioned the gnome.

“I am no giant,” I responded, while wondering if they had even existed. “My name is Fiona. I came through that door and believe I am lost.”

“Just like you mortals, coming in unannounced and sitting on people’s houses. What’s wrong with you?” continued the creature.

Trying to explain myself, “Well you see, I-” then rudely getting cut off.

“Scram! Get lost!” hissed the one foot tall beast.

I turned around to leave, seeing as this place was no good, then noticed the door I had come in through, was no longer there. “What do I do now?” I thought. Scurrying away I suddenly encountered an unusual bridge, spread out over a rocky stream with the railings all intertwined. Right before crossing a sudden voice stopped me. It seemed as if I couldn’t do anything without running into trouble. Nervously wondering what it could be now, I turned around and surprisingly saw nothing. Inching forward to continue on, it spoke again.

“Over here,” echoed the deep tone.

There it was a talking tree. “Is this even possible?” I couldn’t believe my eyes.

“I would think twice before crossing that bridge there,” said the big oak. “Hello, I am Stump, I’m the oldest creature in these woods and I know everything there is to know about them. Now if you wish to stay safe and out of danger stay on this side of the forest.”

“But I just want to get out of here,” I wined.

“Well silly, how did you get in?”

I answered with a slight stutter, “There was a door, then there wasn’t and now I’m stuck here.”

“Oh I see, well good news is your not quite stuck here. You see that door is the portal between our world and yours, but there is another way to get out too. You must go over that bridge and through the Wicked West Woods and there should be an exit. I would love to join you, but I am planted here in the East Side, so you’re on your own kid. Just know the river is essential to continue, and keep a look out for that other door. Good luck.”

I was off, replaying every word the tree said to me with every creaky stride I took on the overpass. It was foggy in the distance and I couldn’t see anything ahead of me.

“Halt!” There it was, my first obstacle. “Before you pass by me, you must answer to thee. A riddle that’s all but if you fail, you fall,” rhymed the mythical troll. He was a little taller than the gnome and seemed noticeable nicer. To me that seemed odd. His ears were as big as Dumbo’s and he had a nose like an ice cream come. He was stocky, but not in a chunky fat way. He continued, “I have a mouth but can not swallow. What am I?

“A mouth but can not swallow,” I repeated, “How could that be?” I thought about it long and hard, but the roaring of the river rapids bellow was distracting. That’s when it hit me, like a flyswatter to the face. In a river an opening that flows into another body of water is considered a mouth, but technically it is not capable of swallowing anything. The answer to the brainteaser was a river.

Angered and spiteful because I had solved his measly puzzle, the troll let me go. Now pacing through the West Woods, attempting not to run into anymore danger, there was no door to be found. All of a sudden, I heard it again, footsteps off in the distance, getting closer and faster. I dashed straight ahead, not stopping for anything. Cobwebs stuck to my face as I darted through them and a dead end crushed my hopes of getting back in one piece.

Out of the corner of my I eye I saw something appear. It was the door, round like a ball and resembling the fancy Cinderella carriage. With no hesitation and not looking back, I swung the door open and there I was, home at last.

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