By Alex C. (Media, PA)
Rrrring!!!! The last school bell rang and millions of bodies rushed out of the door, for it was Friday. James had been my friend since birth. No, literally. We were born on the same day, at the same hospital. Every day after school, we would walk through a patch of woods behind our houses to get home. But this time was a walk that we could never forget. “James, what it that?” I asked him, scared. “Uh, I don’t know. Let’s go check it out.” As we ventured closer to the object I could see what it was. It was a small wooden door leading into the ground, with a note in the mailbox behind it:
If you are reading this, you are probably scared. Well, you should be.
If you are brave, and if you are strong,
open the door and take a journey to find what lies beneath.
Well, you probably know what happened next. “Hannah, we’re brave, and we’re strong! We should take the journey, to find what lies beneath!” I was shivering at the feeling of what wrote that note. What could it be? I guess I would have to find out. Before I knew it, we had opened the creaky door and tip-toed down a path made long ago. “James, are you sure about this? What if our parents start looking for us? What if we never come back?” James just looked at me and said “I promise we’ll come back.” I nodded and kept walking. This “cave” was nothing like anything I’ve ever seen. There were openings, staircases and slides everywhere! There were stripes, dots, stars, and waves on the walls. Where were we supposed to go? We went straight most of the time but we made some turns and went down some slides and went up some stairs and through some tunnels. It was pretty dark in there, so I wasn’t sure how we were supposed to get back…. “James, where are we going?” James didn’t even look back when he said “We’re going to find what lies beneath that door!” Not only was it dark in the ‘cave’, but it was cold. I heard a loud rustle on the side of the path. “James! Is that you?” I felt kind of dumb asking that question but….”No, I’m right in front of you. It was probably just rocks falling, anyway. Don’t be scared. We’ll be fine.” That made me feel a little more comfortable about all this. “Okay. Right. We’ll be fine. We’ll be fine……. Ahhhhh!!!!!! Something’s grabbing me! Help, James!” I could feel the “thing” have a small but tight grip on my leg but I also felt James’ firm hand’s grip on my arm. Both James and the “thing” were playing tug of war with me. It felt sort of good but still scary, because I had no idea what was grabbing me other than James. It was only 20 minutes that felt like 6 hours while they were playing with me. Finally, the “thing” let go and I could hear him running away. “Ow! I hurt my leg. I can’t walk on it. James, what are we going to do?” James decided the only thing that he could do was to carry me like a groom carries his bride. It was sort of awkward but, okay. We started walking again. We walked for another 30 minutes. It felt like forever! When would this journey ever end? I didn’t even know what to eat, because we didn’t bring food and we would have to eat sooner or later. Drink too. There was so much to worry about. After a while of more walking I heard something down a set of stairs. “James, do you think we should go that way?” James stopped and listened. “Yeah, I do hear something….Okay, let’s go that way then.” James even carried me down the staircase. I heard the noise again “James, I heard the noise again! I think we’re getting closer!” I shrieked in horror and happiness. I was still scared because it seemed as if we would be meeting the author of that letter very soon. “Hannah, are you still scared?” James asked. “Uh, yeah, a little bit. I’m just scared of meeting the goblin or ghost or whatever wrote that letter. But it said you should be scared, so….” I kind of regretted saying that because now he would probably think that I’m too scared to go any further and that I’m going to start to cry. But, I was brave, and I was strong. And I could do this, no matter what. I heard another noise but this time I wasn’t scared. I knew then that we were getting closer and that nothing could happen to us so, I wasn’t scared. There were a lot of noisemakers this part of the journey. I mean, I heard shrieks and eeks and much more, but I wasn’t scared. We must’ve walked 10 miles because James was stopping in his footsteps. My leg was killing me! I didn’t know if I could take the vigorous pain much longer, and if I could, how long? Finally, I saw that there was a sign that said, in the same handwriting:
You’re doing great! You’re probably not scared anymore. Just 3 more staircases until you find what lies beneath….
I could tell that James was up for it, but I was beat up. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was going to die. “Hannah, let’s go! We can do this!” I shook my head “no”. I couldn’t do it. No part of my body could move. I really was going to die. “James, I can’t. I, I’m going to die.” James kind of giggled for a second but once he realized I wasn’t joking, his smile slowly faded away. “What? Hannah, no! You can’t die! We’re best friends! You can’t just leave me! We’re almost there. You can make it, I believe in you. Please, Hannah, don’t go.” I could barely speak now. This was the end. “I’m sorry, James. I l-l-l…..” Those were my last words, forever. James was now alone. I was gone, away from him. “Hannah? You what? Hannah! Noooooo! It’s over. She’s gone.” James said sadly. But before he left to finish the journey, without me, down the 3 staircases, he picked up my head and gently kissed me on the lips. “I love you, Hannah.” I could barely hear him start to cry but it zoned out and I knew that I was officially gone from this world up to another. Heaven. I guess I wouldn’t find out who lied beneath that old door. I wonder what did. My guess is a goblin, but not a mean one, a good goblin, a forest goblin who lives in and watches over his forest. But this was my goodbye.
After I died, I thought I’d never see anyone ever again. James, my Mom, my Dad, nobody. But after I did, I found that I could see from above. Like a bird, I could fly over the whole world and I could see anything. So, when I figured that out, I flew right back down through the atmosphere to the end of the cave where James and the “thing” would be. When I successfully found my way through all the tunnels and such, there was James, standing, talking with a forest goblin. Well, won’t you look at that, I thought. I was right! It was a forest goblin. James was speaking with him, asking questions about what he was and why he was here and what he did in this cave. “Well, I watch over all the animals of the forest. I watch passers, making sure the animals are safe from harm with the passers.” I heard every word he said and was amazed. How could anybody be afraid of such a nice creature? It was almost impossible. I just didn’t get it. Well, anyways, I watched as they sat on the couch. I forgot to explain how cozy and welcoming this goblins house was, considering how weird and freaky the pathway is. And even though James would never see me again, I would see him many times again. It definitely was NOT my goodbye.