What Lies Beneath

By Alyssa Barlow (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

8,9,10…. READY OR NOT

I ran wildly, darting through the bushes,  searching for the perfect place to hide. I looked over my shoulder, running like a track star, SMACK. I flopped onto my back and grabbed my head,it was  pounding, like someone banging on a door while trick or treating. Shakily, I push myself upward, legs extended in front of me. I’ve been here before; I was only 4 years old the last time, exploring the woods with my Father. That was before, when Daddy was still with us and my family had plenty of money, new toys, cars, and fancy dinners. Now Mama and I barely make it from paycheck to paycheck.

Something was different, the once towering dark brown door, now stands only up to my chest, its color now faded into tan.

“Elena” a voice whispers.

“Hello?”

It sounded like my dads voice, but I know that’s impossible, he can’t just come back. I crouch down, grasping the worn stick handle and slowly pull it open. All is silent, like the people during the national anthem. Peeking my head around the door, curiously looking in, I see nothing but darkness. So dark I can’t see my hand in front of my face, but still; I enter.

On my hands and knees, I crawl in. The door slams, and a cold breeze blows its way up my shirt, sending a chill up my spine.

“Creepy.”

I crawl about the length of a minivan when suddenly I see a faint light in the distance. Crawling faster and faster, until I reach the light. I stand up, looking all around me, it looks like the same old forest I was just in.

“Elena!”this time the voice yells

I whip my head around, searching for the voice. No one.

“I guess I must have imagined it,” I say.

Continuing walking forward, going deeper and deeper down the grassy path, a dense fog starts to swirl around me. Its grey color, ominously filling the forest starts to make it hard to see. I stumble along the path until I come across a small bridge, where a guard post stands.

“Hey!”

I jump, whipping my head around. A gnome like man with goat horns stares at me, his deep red eyes piercing into me.

“What are you doing here?” he says to me.

“I-I don’t know I just opened the door and ended up here.”

The gnome man’s eyes widen.

“Only certain people get through the door, so what is it you’re wishing for?”

“Wishing for? What are you talking about?”

“Just cross the bridge and it’ll take you right to Luke, he’ll give you what you wish for, tell him Cain sent you.”

He lifts the gate, I slowly shuffle across the bridge, legs heavily dragging behind me, finally I reach another grassy path. Continuing down the path, the fog continues to thicken,  and I can barely see a foot in front of me. After walking for what seemed like hours, I reach the end of the path, and the fog starts to thin. Towering above me is a huge wooden structure, with a drop floorboard right in the center, a giant flight of steps leads to its entrance. It looks to be an old gallows. Hesitantly, I start to make my way up the stairs, looking around me after walking up each step.

“So! I’m guessing you’ve come here for me huh?”

The booming voice terrifies me, causing me to trip and fall up the steps, I shoot my eyes upward. Leaning against the one side of the structure with his arms crossed, stands a man, about 7 feet tall, covered from head to toe in a black soot. He had thick goat horns, with red eyes that glowed, contrasting to his dark, dirty face.

“Uhhh are you Luke? Cain sent me.”

“In the flesh” he laughs. “Don’t call me Luke though, call me Lucifer. What brings you here?”

“I really don’t know, I came in through the door, Cain said something about a wish?”

“Oh, I see, what is it you wish for?”

“Well, I want my dad back, and I want my family to have money again.”

He pauses for a couple moments, biting on his nails and staring at me, nothing but silence. He lets out a sigh.

“I might be able to do that. But, under one condition; you have to give me something in return.”

“Anything, name anything and I’ll do it.” I say eagerly.

“Your soul and your friends.”

“What? How am I supposed to just give that to you? I can’t do that.”

He uncrosses his arms and sighs, his lips purse together and he shakes his head looking at the ground. He turns around slowly, “I guess you don’t want to see him again”

“No ,I do, I do.” I pause for a moment. Tears start to flood my eyes, and my chest burns like a fire as he walks away,

“Lucifer!” I yell to him. He continues walking.

“Okay, okay, I’ll do it,” I yell desperately, running up the steps. He whips his head around revealing a devilish smile.

“Great! Your wish is granted, go on home” he says to me excitedly. I turn to walk down the stairs, hesitantly walking down each step. That’s really it?

“Oh, and Elena,” Lucifer calls out

“Yes?” I question. Turning my head around slowly, with a puzzled look on my face.

“There’s no trade backs.”

I turn back around, still confused on what happened. My excitement to see my Dad overcomes my confusion.  I run back the way I came, through the thick fog and over the bridge, all the way back to the tunnel. I crawl back through the pitch black and shove the door open. Through the midst of my running, I see blue and red lights flashing through the trees. I start to make my way over

“I think that girl Elena was with them, everyone be on the look out for her”

After hearing that, I’m thinking my best bet is to run. So, I dash through the forest towards my front door, my legs so weak they felt like jello. A new mercedes benz sat in the driveway. “God I hope this worked” I thought, as I fling open the door

“Dad!” I sprint and jump into his arms, giving him a giant bear hug.

He was wearing his expensive Michael Kors watch, the one that mama and I had sold last summer.

“Honey, where were you? The cops have been looking for you since yesterday,” he scolds.

“What? I was only in the woods an hour, why do the cops want me?” confusion washes over my face.

“Something happened to your friends, you’re the main suspect.”

“Why me?”

“You’re the person who saw them last.”

BANG BANG BANG

The door sounds as if it’s going to snap off the hinges. My dad and I both shoot our eyes towards the door, my heart starts to beat so fast it feels it’s going to come out of my chest.

“Elena! This is the police, you need to come out.”

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