By Jordan Kolb (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)
As leaves twirled in the sky and flowers danced in the wind, Juliana jogged down the path. Blond locks swayed back and forth as the music blared from her earbuds. Juliana exchanged smiles with every person she greeted.
A black vehicle shadowed Juliana unnoticed. Her music was too loud to hear the wheels snapping branches and crunching leaves. Two muscular figures leapt out of the car. A tall man dressed in black landed beside her, with a hand stretching forward. She released a terrified scream, and her speed increased. Juliana’s feet guided her into the deep woods where she paused in front of a door.
The sun gleamed on the door, with silhouettes of leaves slightly moving. The shouts of the guys echoed throughout the trees, and stampeding footsteps followed. Her blue eyes opened at the door handle as the door flew open. She crawled her way through the tight space behind such a big door.
Darkness and silence took control of the vacant tunnel, no objects or people in sight. Juliana’s breath was heavy and full of relief. Turning on her phone flashlight, all she saw was a narrow path that led to another door. She followed the path and opened the door to be blinded by the sun. Uncovering her eyes, she saw tiny houses scattered across the land. Tiny people roamed the area, focused on their tasks. Her mind paced back and forth. Her eyes ascended into darkness.
As her eyes opened and closed slowly, she found herself inside a house. Jars upon jars lined a shelf with pots and pans piled on the counters. Juliana crawled off a table to look out a window. The hut shook as the door flung open. There stood a creature with pointy ears and a long, white beard. The gnome’s cone-shaped hat shot straight up as he fell into shock.
“Um, excuse me? Where am I? Who are you? Why am I the size of you? What did you do to me?” Juliana shot question after question at the old gnome.
“Child, take my hand. I will tell you everything.”
Juliana gripped the gnome’s hand, ready for an adventure to an unknown destination. The gnome explained everything to Juliana as they strolled. As questions were answered, Juliana began to wonder if she was dreaming.
“Mister, am I dreaming?”
“You are not. When you ran through the wooden door, you brought yourself into another dimension- a place mankind has never discovered. Since you are the first, I had to put you under a shrinking spell before anyone got a glance of you.”
The village seemed to stretch as they walked the road. Houses were oddly shaped, gnome children played tag, and everyone worked with their own talent. Their names reflected their jobs. The elderly gnome guiding Juliana was known as “Dr. Magic.”
A bunch of “Good mornings” bounced around Juliana’s ears as she walked past the gnomes.
“Everyone here is polite,” Dr. Magic stated.
“Wow. I can tell! It’s nice to hear something like that. My dimension isn’t too polite.”
After crossing a creaky bridge that hosted the troll under it, their walk came to a pause. Juliana’s neck inched up as she glimpsed at a structure standing tall. There, in front of her and Dr. Magic, was a castle. Gliding out of the front door was a gnomette in a long dress. Next to her was another gnome with a golden crown reflecting sunlight.
“Who are they?”
“They are the king and queen of the kingdom. They have kept everyone safe and guarded for forty-three years now.”
The door opened to reveal two guards decked out in silver armor. Marching their way towards Juliana, she gazed in amazement, blinded by the apparel. After they passed, Juliana and Dr. Magic climbed up the stairs to greet the king and queen.
Guiding them inside, the king and queen sat Juliana and Dr. Magic at a table. With a snap of the king’s fingers, food appeared on the table. Told to dig in, everyone began to eat their meals.
“Juliana, what is your role in my kingdom?” the king asked.
“My role? Oh yeah, my role. I, uh, work with the children.”
“Oh really? How have they been in school?”
Dr. Magic, chipping his fingernails, tried whispering to Juliana that there was no school, but she decided to ignore him. Knowing there was no school, the king called over one of his servants to tell him to get the guards.
Two guards stormed into the dining hall. As they made their way over to Juliana, she knew this was serious. The guards yanked her chair away from the table and grabbed her arms. They covered her mouth, so her screams were faint. Dr. Magic rushed out of his seat to rescue her, but another guard grasped him back.
The guards forced Juliana into a silver box. The walls seemed to tighten with the rest of the space taken by the bulky guards. The movement made Juliana’s stomach clench. It felt like an eternity passed while they stood in the box, until it came to a stop. The doors slid open to reveal walls taller than a skyscraper. There were thousands of cells.
The two armored guards took Juliana to the end of a hallway where a door laid against a wall. One of the guards opened it, while the other pushed her inside the tiny room. Cold air brought chills down Juliana’s spine as she sat in the shadows. Spider webs decorated the corners of the room, while rodents crawled through holes in the walls.
Moments later, the cell door unlatched and the guards pulled her out. Sitting her down at a conference table, they began to ask her questions.
“Why are you in this dimension, Juliana?” guard 1 asked.
“How do you know my…”
“I asked you a question!”
“I came through a door in the woods; it brought me here.”
Silence increased while the guard’s helmet sat staring at Juliana. Her brain screamed for her to run, but her body remained stiff. Guard 2 eventually inched his way over to Juliana as her breath grew heavy. Their hands reaching for their helmets, they pressed a button to reveal the two stalkers.
* * *
Children were forced to stay inside as officers roamed the park. Missing posters overloaded telephone polls and the internet was crammed with news articles.
Juliana was reported missing an hour after she crawled through the door. Once her parents noticed she never came home from her jog, they dialed every number they got a hold of to find their daughter.
A police officer strolled down a path in the park, when he came across a car piled with leaves. After forcing the leaves off the car, he found out that this was the vehicle they needed to find: the black automobile that the stalkers owned.
Eventually, the officer came across a wooden door. Sunlight peaked its way through leaves to shine on the worn wood. His walkie-talkie was overcrowded with calls that he chose to ignore. He stepped through the doorway and vanished into the shadows.