By Lindsay Ferguson (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

It was about 200 years ago when I took my first steps into the door that lead to the biggest change in my life. I didn’t believe in magic or ghost stories back then, but now it seems I live in one.

The door I entered was small and embedded in the side of a hill. It was made of wood, with a rustic curved roof and a stick for a handle. I found it while on a leisurely stroll through the woods behind my high school, my usual stomping ground. I had thought it belonged to a child, so I followed my adventurous instincts and took it upon myself to go in and investigate. Upon entering, I saw nothing but chilling blackness, the kind that will forever haunt my soul. Every ounce of color and light was sucked up into the void until I, myself, was a part of the bleak darkness too. I struggled to find a way out of the bone chilling abyss for a minute or so, then I saw a miniscule speck of light. I began to drift towards it until I got sucked completely into the light and fell out in a colorful wooded area, the likes of which I had never known.

Everything was kissed with starlight. Every leaf on every tree dazzled and sparkled in the sun. From the soil in the ground to the clear blue sky, shimmering starlight speckled all that could be seen. I was in awe. A door full of perpetual blackness lead to a world of wonder. I looked around and saw that the door had vanished. This, however, did not frighten me because I was in such a beautiful place, and I grew eager to explore it. I stood up off the ground which I had fallen on, and began to stroll into the woods of glowing wonder.

For many miles of walking I saw nothing strange, just vast stretches of the sparkling diamond-like woodland covering all the eye could see. Then, all at once it seemed, night fell upon me. I found a lovely tree to sleep under, and blissfully drifted off in the world of starlight. Sadly, my blissful sleep only lasted a few hours until I was awoken into a new world of terror.

When I stirred and began to look around for the cause of my awakening, I saw that I was not in the same place I had fallen asleep. I was in the center of a field, surrounded by large statues made of rope and straw. Around me sat thousands of tiny gnomes. The gnomes could move and speak, though it was a language my ears did not recognize. My stomach turned to butterflies and my hands grew clammy. The gnomes had restrained me using various ropes and chains. When they saw that I was awake, they ran to me and in unison carried me up to one of the straw structures. They bound me to one and began to chant a ritual. I fiercely fought to escape but it was to no avail. It was then that I knew my life would never be the same.

All at once, a beam of light shone down on me from the heavens, and the gnome chant grew louder. I fought as hard as I could to free myself from my restraints and still had no luck. Then, my whole body began to tingle and shake. I was transforming into something unknown.

Then I blacked out.

When I awoke, I saw my old body lying before me. I looked down at my hands and saw that they were smaller and my surroundings seemed much bigger than before. Then I realized the terrifying truth, my old body had been sacrificed and my soul was in the body of a gnome. Emotions overtook me. I was doomed to live out my infinite days in the world of magic kissed by twinkling starlight.

At present, I am stuck as a mischievous gnome with nothing but ill intent. I constantly place doors around the human world to lure children in and turn them into gnomes. We gnomes do this as sacrifices to the gnome god in the hopes of receiving blessings in return. I miss my old home. Starlight no longer dazzles me, it makes me yearn for my old life. The languages of the gnomes no longer puzzle me, they just make me long for the diverse languages of home. Everyone I have ever loved has probably died and forgotten about me. After all, how could they know where to look? As I capture more children each day, I wonder how their families will react. Will they think their children ran away, were kidnapped, are dead? Will they ever think to look behind the rustic small door hidden in the side of a hill? Will they even consider the possibility that their kids are trapped in a world of starlight? Who knows, maybe we all did get kidnapped, ran away, or are dead. Maybe this is just some twisted version of the afterlife or our mental escape from the horrible reality we may live in.

Maybe we gnomes are all just lost souls trapped in a world of starlight.

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