By Lola Ibrahim (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
The gates ridged edges cut my palms. I reach the top and let myself down, my foot slips. I take a second on the ground and try to collect my thoughts well enough to get up and keep running. My camera bangs against my chest in rhythm to my steps.
“Stop!” The park guard exclaims. I hesitate, frantically searching for a place to shield myself. I find a mass of partially dead trees and various other scraps. Deciding to sacrifice my hoodie I dive into the heap, my black hair gets caught in numerous twigs.
Beams of light shine through the bush in scattered, misshapen, patterns. I lean from side to side trying to dodge the rays. My breathing stops; I hear him inching closer. I can only pray he doesn’t spot me. He leaves, that’s my cue to start investigating; I photograph a bridge made of intertwining branches. I question how something so beautiful could be created by an average human. I look up at the sky and on my right to the setting sun.
I move closer, the leaves crunch under my tacky rain boots. There’s a small door under the bridge. “I know there’s something weird about this place” I whisper. My hand timidly reaches for the little knob and I open the door. I squint through the window trying to find anything in that tiny house. But I can’t pick anything up in the darkness. I depart in seek for more mysterious treasures. “Ow!” I yell. My shriek of pain gets cut off by my hand, as if to suppress my already exerted scream.
I look down to a gnome in a frightened expression. The top of its hat is broken off, and the gnome appears like it’s experiencing some sort of pain. It feels oddly warm despite the winds of November. I lightly apply pressure to it’s abdomen and it moves. I gasp and drop the creature, it hits the ground and scurries away.
It runs along a dirt path and I follow closely behind. The gnome leads me to small village of living gnomes. They live in small houses like normal people sleeping, eating, and walking around. It’s like a whole other world down there. I snap some pictures, they acknowledge my presence but keep doing whatever they were doing previous to my entry.
I catch a eerie blue glow out the corner of my eye. I turn and walk towards it, I arrive at trees hovering over a worn door. It looks like the trees are shading the door, protecting it from harm. A thick piece of wood plays the role of a door handle. I’m no match to the size of the gray door, I stand on my tippy-toes trying to see through the metal gate. Hoping to find the cause of the light. I lay my hand on the handle feeling the crevices of the grain.
The door fiercely swings open, a cold hand grabs my wrist and pulls me inside. My mouth’s covered with a cloth, I try to scream but can’t manage more then a muffled yell. “Stop” he says, calmly “ leave from here”. I punch him trying to loosen his grip. I can’t get a good look at him, his black, hooded, cloak covers his face. I struggle fighting him, I still can’t see his face as we wrestle each other. It’s all a hazy blur of blue and black, I try to piece together what’s happening but everything’s moving so fast it’s impossible.
He picks me up and throws me outside, I fall, out of breath. I feel for my camera, patting my chest in panic. I desperately hunt for my Nikon, I feel the ground for any trace of the device. I rustle the orange leafs, but there’s no luck.
I get up and brush myself off, the door that was once there is gone. All that’s left was my camera shattered to pieces. Everything had managed to disappear including my only evidence.
I hear something in the distance and run towards the gate. The park guard is close by, I climb the fence. Sunrise is coming and my mom would have a heart attack if she found out I was missing. Through it all I smile as I run, knowing my article’s getting an “A.”