What Lies Beneath?

By Hannah Kirkell (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

Seven years ago, I almost destroyed the world as you now know it. Here’s how.

A dream is simply a fantasy your brain projects, right? You mentally galavant with pirates, or fend off ninjas while being chased by monsters, or go to school without your pants, and all the while your body lies motionless in a coma- like state, as if dead. So, in short, a dream is not any variation of reality; they’re just as they are: dreams. Hopes. Fears. They never have been, are not, and never will be substantive.

Well… I’m going to tell you a secret. My dreams aren’t reality- no, that’s just too simple. Reality is my dreams.

In my dreaming state, I have the capability to do whatever I want.

I could, for example, study for my math test, and when I wake up, I will have retained the outcome of my study session, and still be well rested. This is, obviously, an extraordinary gift. With only a few guidelines, I practically have the world at my disposal. I can’t kill anyone, I can’t change anything (this will tell why), and I can’t tell anyone. Other than that, I am an artist and the world is my canvas.

It wasn’t always like this, however. I didn’t receive this gift until I was about 13 or 14. The day I discovered my powers was the day I unleashed the horrors of hell and ruptured the known universe. In short, I opened a portal to another dimension- one containing mythical monsters, demons, terrible people, and the lake of fire. I remember thinking ‘this is just a dream; why not?’, and I was correct. Up until that point it was just a dream. After waking up, finding the world in chaos, and surviving a day that rivaled Judgement Day in the forms of death and destruction, I reentered my dreams to find myself in the same hell-like world I had struggled through that day. I knew I had about nine hours to right my wrongs: this is how it happened.

In my dream, I was standing in front of the same semi circular wooden door I had opened the previous night, but something was off. It took me a moment to realize that instead of being closed tightly and bolted with hundreds of locks, it was slightly ajar. The door was protruding from a muddy hill, constructed somewhat crudely with planks. There was a small opening right in the middle, barred off so that only a little light pierced the darkness. This tiny ray of sunlight had illuminated the inky blackness, allowing me to see a 7 by 4 oval that glowed with a faint violet color.

Now, I didn’t need the grated window. The opening allowed me to see just fine, but now the portal was gone. In its place, a small piece of paper, blackened along the edges, lay on the hard earth. After mentally wrestling with myself, I threw caution to the wind, yanked the door open wide enough for me to enter comfortably, and strode in confidently. I immediately smacked my head on the drooping ceiling. Courage failing, I scooped up the note, flung myself backwards, and slammed the door closed with a resounding BANG! Soundwaves echoed in my head and seemed to resound over the sloping hills, rolling over mountains into the valleys below.

Still clutching the scrap of paper, I willed myself to shoot heavenward, wanting to get out of the spooky forest and away from the door. Long hair ruffling in the wind and wind stinging my eyes, I shot towards a large clearing with a lake off to the side. I touched down in front of a wooden outpost, running to diminish my stored momentum. I took refuge from the oncoming storm clouds inside the lookout post, climbing the ladder and flinging myself down against a splinter-filled wall. Above me, the rain pitter-pattered and made whooshing noises as it slid down the slanted roof. Finally gathering the nerve, I glanced down at the note.

Three words were branded onto the aged paper: Look behind you. My heartbeat quickened as I threw a quick glance over my shoulder. Lurking behind me was a humanoid figure, one that heavily resembled a frog. Tiny white flecks marred his dark blue membrane, and his eyes burned with a cold fury. In those eyes I saw sacrifices, beings of straw being burned alive. Yelping, I leapt the 25 feet to the ground below. All memories of being in control were absent- terror streamed in like water into the titanic. Somehow, my feet brought me back to that ominous door. I darted inside it, flinging it shut and collapsing onto the dirt, out of breath. Menacing laughter echoed outside the thick door, serving as a barrier between me and my impending doom.

Shadows danced about the dark room as the monstrosity paced back and forth, beckoning me out. I attempted to steady my breathing and calm my racing nerves, but to no prevail. I didn’t have much time left- maybe an hour? Hour and a half? After that, any changes would be solidified for another day until my brain released me back into my dreams. So basically, if I was unable to take immediate action, I was as goo as dead. Somehow, I would have to slay the beast. Ignoring my mental screams of protest, I threw open the door and made a run for it. Legs screaming in agony, I pushed on. The frog-man was so close, I could feel his static breathing on my neck.

I ran over a wooden bridge, wind stinging my eyes and preventing me from seeing the blockade until it was almost too late. Throwing my legs forward and my torso back, I slid under the wooden barricade and came up running. I continued to flee for my life, until my path was blocked on all sides. The only escape was a wooden covered bridge. As the frog-man drew nearer, I decided that creepy bridges were better than death. Entering the enclosed bridge, I knew that this was it- my final stand; a hail-mary. I altered the gravitational pull and turned the never-ending bridge into a vortex (a jail-like black hole that would hold the beast captive). I turned around… The beast sprung at me… I leaned my shoulders back, causing my body to plunge downward.

I was falling

Falling

Falling

The last thing I remember was the scream of outrage, and claws sinking into my left calf.

My body shot upright, eyes flew open. I was back in reality. Fearfully, I glanced out my bedroom window, and was greeted with a surprising sight- rolling hills with dying grass, red and orange leaves, and an algae-filled pond. “Oh, God…” I muttered. I had done it.

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