By Kathryn Delgiorno (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
I gently slid the glass door open and shuddered as the nighttime air hit my skin. I looked around me and started towards the woods behind my house. My hands shook with excitement and my mind wandered with possibilities. I couldn’t wait to see the door again tonight, it was always the highpoint of my days. It was pitch black, except for the silver light from the moon shining on a door. The frame was rotting and the handle was rusting. As I reached for the knob, it dissolved into the air. I shook my head and sat on the ground.
“I wish it would stop disappearing, so I could finally go through.” I said to myself. Just as I finished this thought, the door slid open with a creak that made me jump. I walked through the archway, my eyes and jaw wide open. At the end of the tunnel there was a field of short green grass covered with mushrooms half my size.
I bent down to touch a mushroom and a small creature flew out from underneath. I was in awe as I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned around to face a girl with red-hair and big green eyes that were filled with mystery. Her skin was pale and sprinkled with dark freckles.
“Daniel! Hello, I’m Harley and this is The Hidden!” her voice was high-pitched, but still beautiful.
“How do you know my…” I tried to say, but I was cut off by a shrill sound.
“Your name?” she asked over the loud noise, “I heard your wish to be here and that’s all I needed to get you here.”
“That’s impossible, I’m dreaming. I need to wake up!” I pinched my arm and shut my eyes hoping to wake up in my own bed, but I didn’t.
“Isn’t this what you wanted?” her smile was fading, “To know what was here?”
“I don’t know, I thought it was all a dream.” I mumbled.
“Daniel, be calm, I’m here to help you. Let’s go introduce you to my father, he’s probably worried sick because of the bells.” Harley said as she grabbed my wrist to drag me into the forest. As we went through the thicket I noticed small houses without roofs. There were chairs made of trees placed in the main section of the living space. As we continued deeper there were bigger huts surrounded by thick vines and underbrush. In the middle of the beauty there was a huge oak tree with at least 300 large creatures surrounding it. As Harley pushed to the center she reached an orange mask and began talking to it.
“Daddy,” Harley said as she pushed through the people, “this is Daniel, he just came through the door!”
“Oh, Harley, this is the second outsider this month. What has gotten into you?”said a booming voice that came from the mask, “I’m taking it that this is why the bells went off?”
“Yeah, I was wandering in the fields and saw him enter through the door. Is he in danger?”
“Wait, what? Danger?!” I asked, “You have got to be kidding me.”
“No, the rebels try and take humans, like you, for their army. It’s beyond our control what they do, we can only stall them until you can escape, but they already know you’re here.” It explained, “We’ll be sending you with the guards where you will rest until nightfall, then Harley will help you make your escape.” From behind the giant tree came four large men that were two times my height. They had grey wings protruding from their back and they carried long spear-like rods.
One grasped my arm and led me towards the mass of trees and shrubs. It felt like we traveled for hours before we reached an old ram-shackled building that was surrounded by shorter trees and weeds. As we climbed up the stairs I noticed a maze of multi-colored tubes that hung off the ceiling.
“You can rest here.” The guard said, pointing to a pile of hay on the floor, “We’ll wake you when it’s time to leave.” My heart thumped in my chest as I thought about the danger I was taking part in. My mom would be missing me and I had school in the morning. As my head spun I began to drift into a peaceful sleep.
I woke up in complete darkness with a sense that I wasn’t alone. “Daniel,” Harley whispered, “it’s time to go.”
“Where are we going?” I asked groggily.
“Just get up and follow me. Make sure you’re silent.” She pulled me to my feet and started out of the door and down the stairs. In the distance there was a loud crack and my heart beat quickened. One part of me wanted to run and the other wanted to go find out what was going on. Harley ducked under tree branches and jumped over fallen trunks while I tried to keep up. Harley slowed her step when we heard a wretched laughter coming from the treetops.
“We’ve found the boy!” a voice screeched, “Chase him!” I turned around to find nearly one hundred huge creatures flying after me at full speed. I decided to take a sharp turn, as I quickened my pace I tripped over a root causing me to fall right on my face. As I laid on the ground I readied myself to be attacked, but instead I heard a roar over my head, then it was gone. I turned over and opened one eye with caution, all I saw was the stars in the sky.
I sat up and looked around, there was a shadow running towards me, “Harley, is that you?” I spoke up.
“Yes, yes! It’s me!” she said with excitement, “I didn’t think they would fly right over you.”
“It was all a blur, I think I hit my head, but are you okay?” I replied in a soft voice.
“I’m okay, they didn’t see me. But I want you to get out of here, the door is clear right now. Run there, straight ahead and you’ll make it. I promise.” She looked at me and then squeezed her arms around me, “Be safe Daniel.”
“I will, Harley, don’t worry.” I said while hugging her back. I gave a quick smile then took off. As I approached the door I heard a rumble behind me and without looking back, I knew it was them. I jumped through the doorway pushing the door open. I was met with a rush of cool air and the early morning sun. I turned to make sure nothing had followed me, but instead I saw that the door had disappeared. My mind raced with possibilities that could explain what had happened tonight but I couldn’t believe any of them.