What Lies Beneath?

By Gavin Sekel (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” Jack blurted out. The entire room looked at him. Everyone was meeting in the cafeteria to discuss opening the door.

“Jack, it is broken,” Tom whispered to him. “We’re running out of supplies.” He had been good friends with Jack since they took cover there.

“We don’t know what will be out there,” Jack continued to say to the crowd.

“The books say it should be safe for human life out there now,” a voice came from the people. They had been left books to tell them how to live over the years. “It has been twenty-five years since the bombs dropped.” The crowd began to roar in argument.

“Come with me,” Jack said to Tom as he began to push through the crowd.

“Where are we going?” Tom asked.

“They’re going to open that door no matter what I say. We need to be ready,” Jack answered.

When they made their way back to Jack’s room, Tom waited as his friend flipped up his bed. Underneath was a safe.

“The door will be opened in exactly one hour,” the loudspeaker echoed along the metal walls of the hallway outside the room. “We advise everyone to stay calm and return to your rooms…”

“Take this,” Jack said, handing Tom a revolver. He had one for himself too. “We should find some better weapons once we get out. Tom, it’s going to be dangerous out there.”

“I believe you, Jack. I’ll stick by you,” Tom said. Jack gave him a head nod and the two headed for the vault door.

The hallways were chaotic. People were running to hide in their rooms or to get ready to see the outside world. Tom and Jack waited at the vault door as the hour went by. A large group of people slowly gathered to wait with them.

Jack noticed a young boy standing with his father. He thought about how that kid had never seen the outside world before so he walked over to him and knelt down.

“Here bud,” Jack said to him and handed him a pair of glasses.

“What are these?” the boy asked.

“They’re sun glasses. The outside is going to be brighter than anything you’ve ever seen,” Jack replied.

“Thank you,” the boy said with a smile. He put the glasses on and looked excitedly up at his father.

When the hour was up, three men arrived. Jack knew the one man quite well. His name was Jared. His hands shook as he approached the panel next to the door. He typed in a code and a box on the wall opened. Inside was a red lever that had WARNING written on it. Jared turned to look at all the people waiting and locked eyes with Jack who shook his head. With a deep breath, he pulled the lever down. There was a loud crackling noise in the wall and the door slowly swung open. The sunlight poured in and the whole crowd took a step back. They all held up their hands to cover their eyes.

Jack was the first to climb up through the door. He sniffed at the air and looked down at the soil. It was dry and cracked. The outside rang with noise. Tom stepped out next to him.

“Hello, old friend,” Tom said with a smile. He breathed in the fresh air.

Jack turned back to Jared. “This door needs to be kept shut at all times. We don’t know what’s out here and we don’t want anything getting in. I will knock three times when we get back. Be ready for us,” Jack announced. Jared nodded and closed the door.

“Well, let’s do this,” Tom said. The two men walked through the woods. It was different than they remembered. It held less life. They walked on through the dust and the trees. A feeling came slowly up from inside of both of them. They wondered what knew things would come into their lives.

Jack stopped and noticed something sticking out from the soil. The sun reflected off of it. He bent down and realized it was a sort of knife made from scrap metal and fabric. A shiver spread through his body.

“Jack,” Tom whispered. Jack looked up to see Tom staring off at something. Rising to his feet, he saw what it was. Multiple statues stood twenty feet tall in an opening in the woods. They were made from sticks and hay. A few of them represented humans and another looked like some type of four-legged animal.

“Something must have built those. Just like they made this,” Jack whispered showing Tom the knife. “They almost look like scarecrows. I think we’re the crows.”

At the same time they noticed a house made from scrap wood and metal built in a tree across the opening. It was small. The door was only a few feet tall. They began to notice other houses in the trees as well.

“The world has changed, Tom,” Jack said as they began to back away slowly. “We need to get back to the vault and tell them about this.”

“I agree. We need to figure out what to do about this,” Tom replied.

They began to run back to the vault but stopped after they thought they were a safe distance from the tree houses and statues. Along the way they noticed a few strange animals. One of them looked like a normal rabbit, but it had yellow spots throughout its fur.

“This world holds a lot for us to learn. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. We must be careful though,” Tom said. “We needed to open the door though. You know that don’t you?”

“I know we did. There are just so many things we are going to have to face now,” Jack answered. “We have no idea what’s out here. Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe it’s safe.”

Arriving back at the vault, Jack knocked three times on the door. It remained shut though. He looked at Tom with concern. They couldn’t hear any movement inside.

Once more, he knocked three times.

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What Lies Beneath?

By Carly Bondrowski (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

Adeline ran from her house until she couldn’t anymore. Everyone there seemed to be fighting. There she was, stranded in the middle of the woods with nowhere left to turn. The door, embedded on the side of a hill, was pulling Adeline in with curiosity. Adeline yanked on the door and she barely pulled it out a centimeter. She tried yanking it again and it pulled open with a loud “WHAM!”. Adeline peeked her head in the door as if she could see something. It seemed to be the same on the inside as it was on the outside so she wandered in. The door slammed behind her. She was locked in and couldn’t get back into the real world anymore. Adeline thought to herself, “No one will miss me anyway, they’re all too busy fighting with each other to realize I am even gone.”

Adeline found one lone path in the woods and began to follow it straight down. She heard the leaves rustle beside her and her eyes widened as her jaw dropped.

“Is someone there? I need to find a way out of here,” Adeline yelled into the woods.

“I don’t know if I can help you with that, but I can help you with a place to stay for the time being,” a voice asked Adeline.

“Why can’t I see you? Are you a ghost? Am I in heaven?” Adeline panicked.

“If you look really closely, you’ll be able to see me. I am right in front of your eyes,” the voice said.

Directly in front of her, Adeline saw a little person. She helped the little person up off the ground and into her hands. This little person had pointed ears, and a pointed hat. She seemed trustworthy because she had no reason to be nice to Adeline other than the kindness of her heart.

“Follow my direction, we’ll be home in no time,” the person said.

As they approached the person’s home, Adeline quickly realized her home would be far too small for her. It was obviously fitted to sleep a tiny person, not a young girl. The size of the fencing was just right for Adeline. It was hollow enough that she could curl into a ball and be comfortable while she slept.

Adeline asked, “What should I call you?”

“Brenda, Brenda will do,” she replied.

“Brenda, do you think I could sleep in the fence around your.. stum- er, I mean, house?”

“Why, yes of course. I noticed you would be too large to sleep in my stump.”

Adeline dropped Brenda off in her stump and she curled into the hollow fencing to sleep for the night. The next morning, Adeline woke up in a panic, unsure of where she was and what was happening. All around her the Earth was shaking. She turned her head to see what was happening and there was a 7-foot tall four-legged animal running towards her. Behind it was a 8-foot tall human looking creature.

Adeline screamed and woke up all the people around her. The people seemed to be annoyed that Adeline woke up the whole village, there was a low mumble with a negative tone. They were used to this kind of thing every morning and since Adeline yelled that way it had brought attention to the people. Now the giant creatures were coming right for Adeline. There was no stopping them now. Adeline began hearing her name being called from far away. It was coming from one of the tall human looking creatures.

“How does this creature know my name?” Adeline thought as it picked her up and ran away with her.

“Help me! Help me! I don’t know what’s happening!” Adeline yelled, wishing Brenda would come save her.

“Adeline! Adeline! Are you going to contribute to this conversation at all?”

Adeline looked up with her brows furrowed and rolled her eyes. She had forgotten all about this fight going on and she had thought about ways to get out of it.

“Whatever, I’m going to bed. I’ve had enough of all this fighting,” Adeline said.

Adeline dreamed that night of the magical place she had thought of that day and wished she could actually escape to there. Unfortunately, every time she went to the woods, the door she imagined was never there. She searched every corner and every path there was and still she found nothing.

Adeline finally decided it was time to give up, when one day she saw it. That exact door, that led to her magical world. As she walked in, she wasn’t sure if she would actually meet the person named Brenda, or sleep in a fence, or get taken by a giant human like creature. Adeline was sure that she would not be coming out of the magical world this time.

She intended on staying there a long, long time.

What Lies Beneath?

By Brandon Saul (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

The teenaged boy’s pale shaky hand reached for the doorknob, but it creaked open itself. He tiptoed into the dark room and the door shut on him. Lights flickered on and there was a dead body on the ground. The boy ran to the door and jiggled the handle. He started to panic and screaming “Help!” and banged on the door with his side.

Soon after he realized it was no use. While looking around the compact room he found what looked to be an elevator switch. The only number there was zero. He hesitated to press it, but he knew it was his only hope. The small room shook as if it was released from hatches. The room dropped and an elevator door opened. The boy took a few steps out. There were lights, shops, and homes everywhere.

“You too, huh?” She grabbed his hand and pulled him along. The boy’s face turned red, his hands started to sweat.

“How old are you?” she asked.

“15, I mean 16, uh… uh… 17.”

“So am I,” she replied.

They approached a small house covered in flowers. They went inside and an old lady approached the boy. “What’s your name, kid?” she asked.

“Damon.”

She turned her head and said to the girl “So he had the same fate as you Serah?”

She replied “Yes.” Then the old lady insisted that she show him to the town’s garden. On their walk Serah explained how she’s been down there for almost two months. Also, that most of the people have lived here most of their lives. They have no way of escaping because the key to the exit is kept by the ruler. They reached the garden.

Serah said “Food has been low recently; we’re all bound to die soon if the ruler keeps taking from us.

Damon became awfully scared, he didn’t want to die.

He said “Why don’t we sneak into the ruler’s home?”

“Many have tried, but the guards kill everyone, it’s nearly impossible.” Damon sighed, “But we’ll die either way so we could try.”

She agreed and they went back to consult the old lady about their plan. Although she thought it was crazy, she agreed they should try. The old lady dug into a closet and pulled out two military outfits.

“These should help protect you if you get hit; supposedly they belonged to my dad.”

The two kids put on the baggy, dark green and light green outfits. Serah was practically tripping over herself so she had to fold them at the ends. The two walked out the door and marched towards the ruler.

There was a protest going on outside the ruler’s house about the food shortage.

Serah said “This should make it easier.”

Damon nodded. They found the furthest vent on the house and crawled inside. They came upon their first entrance. Serah smushed her eyeballs against the vent to check the surroundings. The vent collapsed and she went head first into the floor. Damon jumped down and helped her up and noticed she had a big bump on her forehead.

“Let me lead.” He pressed his ear up to the door to make sure it was clear. He looked at Serah in the eyes as a signal to run. He opened the door and they ran to the ruler’s bedroom at the end of the hallway. There was a safe with a lock on it. Serah took a bobby pin out of her hair and snapped it in half. She pick locked the safe.

Serah snatched the key and said, “There are no vents we can reach, we’ll have to rush by everyone at the front door.”

Damon nodded and they exited the house. Guards from all over pointed their guns to them.

“Halt.”

They ran past them while being fired at. Damon got hit twice in the back, but they managed to make it to the old lady. Serah grabbed her hand, trying to take her with them.

“I’ll only slow you down, please go!”

Damon picked Serah up and ran to the small elevator. He quickly pressed the zero and it started going up. Damon, losing his breath gave out a sigh of relief, and asked “Do you know why there is a dead body here?”

“Probably someone who mistakenly came in here like us, but never pressed the button.”

The elevator hit the top and the dead body moved. Serah unlocked the door and opened it. There was a gun fire followed by a thump. Serah turned to see that Damon was lying face down on the floor. She paused in fear, but then ran away and shut the door behind her.

The lights flickered off.

What Lies Beneath?

Payten Piccioni (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

Ignoring her boyfriend’s remarks of how it was childish, she began to grasp the handle of the wooden door before her. It had creaked open at her touch and Cara, one who lived for adventures, walked inside noticing a whole new world. The door shut behind her and locked her boyfriend on the other side. Barely noticing, Cara’s eyes lit up, a smile broke onto her face, excitement coursed through her veins to the orange sky and pink poppy fields. A two feet tall boy wearing a red pointed hat, a blue collared shirt, and pointy toed shoes stood in front of her.

“Follow me, I’ll show you around,” he stated.

She agreed and the two winded their way through shrubbery covered trails and eventually came to a weathered worn bridge with a tiny house built underneath.

“This is where I stop and you have to continue on alone,” he whispered.

Turning around to ask why, she noticed, he had disappeared. Before Cara could put a foot onto the bridge, a fat, spikey haired, pointed nose troll came swaying over to her. She shoved past and the troll dropped to the ground rolling on his stomach. Once over the bridge, her eyes bulged and her eyebrows raised. There were hundreds of moss covered huts stuck between trees, doors ajar, fog covering the ground, but not a soul in sight. Seeing articles of tiny clothing askew on the ground, she realized the gnomes used to live here and did not leave willingly. She twisted further through the village and saw bigger homes that were the size of sheds. The doors were closed and she still saw no one. Opening the door to a wooden little hut, she noticed she could not see anything in front of her.

“You made a mistake walking in here, foolish girl,” a man replied.

A bright flash of light appeared, causing her to lift her arm up to her eyes to block out the light. Slowly she moved her arm down from her face, squinting, and could now see the man. He had a pointed blue hat covered in stars with a long gown to match. The inside of the house was filled with test tubes, erlenmeyer flasks, and different colored liquids in each.

“What the –”.

“Be quiet, you fool,” he seethed.

With his remark, her mouth had glued shut, words muffled. Grabbing at her face, trembling, she locked eyes with the man. Looking away, Cara observed a gnome poison recipe in a potion book. The man mixed different solutions together and put them all in one large basin. Chanting in Latin, he disappeared. While her heart pounded in her ears, her head throbbed, and her legs hammered the ground, as she exited the house, over the troll’s bridge, and back to the gnome’s new village. As she kept running, she hit her head on a branch and darkness overtook her thoughts.

Her eyes snapped open and she was on the other side of the door. Jumping to her feet, Cara called out to her boyfriend.

He strutted over to her and questioned, “What’s on the other side?”

“No time to say, we have to go back and help the gnomes defeat the wizard to stay alive. How long have I been gone?,” she questioned.

“Calm down, you’re talking crazy Cara. You’ve been gone for a couple minutes.”

“That’s not possible I was in there for at least an hour. I talked to a gnome, a wizard, and pushed past a troll.” she exclaims.

“No, I would have called the cops if you had been gone that long. It’s been about two minutes, babe.”

“No,” she mumbled in disbelief.

“Let’s get you home. You should rest.”

Looking behind her, she saw the door start to disappear. Wiggling herself around in his arms, she pushed against him in an attempt to get back to the door.

“The door! it’s disappearing! I have to save the gnomes!”

Her boyfriend, dragged her away and reassured her that the door would be there the next day.

It wasn’t.

What Lies Beneath?

By Sarah Greenleaf (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

Beyond a wooden door hidden in the crest of a hill, a young dwarf sat twiddling his thumbs while scattering the gravel with weightless kicks. This particular dwarf went by the name Rockson. He was more of a coward than your average scaredy cat, which made his father, King Dwarfmaster, very disappointed. Today, he was going to prove the whole kingdom wrong. A meeting was held in the Hall of Legends, so Rockson figured this would be the perfect time to shine. With a sharpened stick in his hand, he tightened his grip and got ready to show his worth. On the count of three, he leaped out to surprise the others.

“Good god, don’t ever do that, kid.” a dwarf spoke from the crowd. Insults were thrown at him from across the room including,“You’re such a buffoon. A loser to your entire family.” Rockson’s face was so wet with tears, you would think he dunked his face in the ocean. His father came to his rescue, ordering everyone out of the room. The king looked down at his feet, his hands clenched in fists.

“What were you thinking?” his father spoke, gritting his teeth.

“I-I’m sorry father, I just wanted people to be proud of me,” Rockson stuttered. He wiped the tears from his face and looked up at his father. “I just wanted you to be proud.”

“Well son, I’m sorry, but now I’m even angrier,” he admitted, looking into his son’s teary eyes.

“If you want to prove yourself, then I order you to go to the Sinister Forest and bring me back the head of the Dark Creature,” his father exclaimed. Rockson knew who this was, one of the most feared creatures in the east. Rockson thought about this quest for a minute, and then nodded his head.

“I accept the quest, Father,” he said.

“You better make me proud, or I will not hesitate to banish you,” he threatened. Rockson gulped nervously and quickly ran back to this room to gather his necessities. Rockson exited the door, and headed down the trail.

After thirty minutes, he finally made it to a corner. With a sigh of relief, he hummed down the trail and made his way to the forest. Goosebumps arose onto his skin, causing him to shiver. Rockson slid his sword out of its holder, and got ready to attack anything in his way. A rustle erupted from the bushes in front of him, causing Rockson to jolt and slip on the mud. He fell down with a thud. Then, a deer leaped from the bushes over his head and left Rockson to lay in pain.

“Ugh, stupid deer.” Rockson groaned. A throbbing pulse came from his abdomen, causing him to squirm in agony. Lifting his jacket, he saw a stick jabbed into his stomach. A scream of pain was fighting to come out, but Rockson knew if he did, the creatures would come to tear him to shreds. He breathed heavily in and out, gripping his hand around the stick. He had only one choice if he were to continue, and that was to rip out the stick.

“Okay Rockson, you can do this, on the count of three,” he reassured himself.

“One,” he said. His grip became tighter around the end of the stick.

“Two,” he counted. His other hand picked up a rag from his pack, and shoved it in his mouth.

“Three.” He screamed. Rockson yanked the stick out, a ripping pain running up his stomach. Tears brimmed in his eyes, his face scrunching up from the pain and multiple groans erupted from his mouth. He quickly grabbed the rag from his mouth and placed it over the wound. All of a sudden, Rockson’s vision went blurry, and the world before him faded black.

 

Rockson woke up in a hut with incense filling his nostrils. He coughed and then a lady appeared from behind a screen.

“Hello there,” the lady greeted. She brought over a cup filled with fresh water.

“Drink up, you have a long way ahead of you,” she reminded him. He abruptly got out of bed, but a stabbing pulse in his stomach made him fall back.

“Be careful with that wound of yours, it still needs time to heal,” she told him.

“Well, how much time?” Rockson asked.

“Three days,” she replied.

“Three days!” he shouted in disbelief.

“Well you can’t defeat the Dark Creature in your state. You’d be dead before you could even scratch him” she stated. He sighed in annoyance, hoping that if he rested enough, he’d be better by tomorrow. Rockson laid his head on the pillow and rested his eyes for the troublesome days to come.

 

When he woke again, his stomach still felt sore, but he got up to get used to his surroundings. He peeked through the screen from where Penny had went. He saw her talking to a man, but he was much taller and muscular, with sideburns bigger than the moon.

“Listen, I don’t care if he’s innocent. I saw him in the Sinister Forest,” the man said.

“But he’s injured, Sarge. You can’t go in there and execute him,” Penny exclaimed with anger.

“Maybe he shouldn’t have been trying to kill me,” the man named Sarge shouted. He left in a flash and Penny started pacing around the room, while anxiously biting her fingernails. Without thinking twice, Rockson vaulted over the bed and barreled through the door. He winced from the pain in his stomach and fell down the stairs. Pushing up with his arms, he got back to his feet, and clutched his wound. Rockson ran into the thick of the woods, and he climbed into a tree hole to wait out the night.

 

In the morning, Rockson awoke to his stomach growling. While starting the fire, he scanned the area to see if any creatures lay nearby for him to devour. In the brush, he spotted a rabbit. Taking his sword in hand, he threw it towards the rabbit and claimed his meal. After cooking, his stomach continued to growl. “Huh, that’s strange. I just ate minutes ago.” Rockson exclaimed. However, it seemed that the noise had come from something behind him. He turned to see that a towering wolf-like creature stood over him.

“The Dark Creature.” Rockson mumbled.

“Why yes indeed it is I, the Dark Creature,” the Dark Creature stated. “Unfortunately, I think we both know where this leads to.”

“I guess so, but I’m almost certain I will be taking your head home.” Rockson said.

“Ha ha, I guess we’ll see little one,” the Dark Creature chuckled. The Dark Creature unsheathed his claws and snarled allowing the drool in his snout to drip to the mossy ground. They both intensely stared at one another, before Rockson lunged from his position and thrusted his sword at the creature’s stomach. The Dark Creature gripped the sword before it impacted and threw it to the ground with a supernatural force.

“Oh, it seems you have to fight unarmed now. How unfortunate.” the Dark Creature taunted.

Rockson bared his own snaggled teeth and sprinted towards the creature. The creature effortlessly put out his hand and casually gripped it onto Rockson’s head. Rockson now being frustrated thought of the only way to escape his grip. With all of his force, he stomped his foot down onto the creature’s foot. Howling in pain, the Dark Creature fell back on the ground causing the ground to shake. Rockson reacquired his sword, and kneeled over his prize.

“Oh, it seems you have to have your head sliced off. How unfortunate.” Rockson mocked him. He jabbed his sword into the creature’s neck, and began slowly cutting through the flesh.

“Just….tell….them……I’m……sorry for…..being…..me.” the Dark Creature coughed. The Dark Creature heaved in and out before taking his finals breaths of life.

“Well, I’m sorry, too,” Rockson sighed.

Placing the wolf-like creature’s head in his pack, he headed back to his kingdom to be honored with celebration., even if he felt the weight of guilt resting on his shoulders.

What Lies Beneath?

By Jaime Simons (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

I followed the moon. It led me to the place my soul wanted to be. I find myself beneath towering trees, as if they are protecting me while the clock strikes midnight. Like the owls in the trees surrounding me, my eyes widen, exposing them to the cool night air. I am drawn to the sweet smell of the freshly cut grass, and I lie on its soft carpet. Staring into the star-filled sky, I feel the freshness of the air, and notice a small shot of light speeding across my field of vision. I make a wish, relaxing, feeling a sense of peace.

Suddenly, chills rush down my spine when I notice a faint smell of smoke, and see a fire not far away. I peer over the graceful tall grasses, and I see a beautiful bridge being devoured in an enraged sparking blaze. Doll-like people are sitting on the other side of the bridge, creating chaotic sounds as the wood is burning; while my side of the bridge is dark, and I am alone. I watch as the people dance and sing, all the while observe the hypnotic burning scene. Unbelievably, the neatly constructed pile of sticks is not being consumed by the fire. There is no rubble, no ash.

I wander over to a small girl with what looks like a dulcet pink icing swirled on the top of her head, and perfectly flawless features. With caution in her voice, she breathlessly told me that the other side of the bridge is forbidden territory. I must not cross the bridge, where a Hayman roams the woods there. But he can only capture those who pass over. Still, I am unable to control my body as it moves toward the bridge. I see my footprints in the glitter- covered mud, yet my eyes are locked on the river of fire before me. I hear leaves crunching and small branches snap beneath my feet, and become aware of being followed.

Before I can shake myself out of the trance am in, I feel myself being snatched up, carried high in the air. The Hayman! Through the darkness, I see we are approaching an old hidden door. It is small, crumbling and quite frightening. The wind whips the leaves around, the portending winter adding to my gathering fear. Flinging open the creaky door, the man tosses me inside like a pair of old worn shoes, and runs off into the night. I sit quietly, hoping for some small ray of light that just a little while ago, I was enjoying from my vantage point on the grass. But the space is darker than the night itself.

As if to confirm my deepening fear, a blanket of thick fog slowly descends upon me. Shaking off the fuzziness in my head, I begin to think of a plan. Carefully, slowly, I spread my arms in front of me, searching for any escape route. As I inch my way forward, I realize there are no obstacles in my way; no walls, no furniture, no stairs. With each step, I am seeing a light, growing larger and larger as I advance. As the fog dissipates, it reveals a beautiful lake sparkling, and lit like the sun. Running toward the shimmering stream, I jump into the soothing water joyfully. Its magical liquid soothes my cracked lips, softens the skin of my body, and makes my hair silkier than a newborn babies’.

Alarmed at this dramatic transformation, I quickly jump out, realizing that I am not aware of what this substance is. As I turn, the lake disappears, yet I have now acquired an amazingly strange night vision. At last, I can see my surroundings, and when I do, I gasp. Strewn around me are all kinds of porcelain dolls, staring like they can see into my very soul. They are peering into every one of dirty little secrets, and digging through my deepest, darkest thoughts. Blinking furiously, once again, I am thrust into a new place.

I find myself in a room in my old daycare center. It was a place I dreaded going to more than anything else in the world. I hated that I was locked in such a childish place, while my parents were free to live their adult lives as they pleased. As I recall these things, the place where I am begins to change yet again. Baby pink ducks and purple teddy bears pasted on the walls are covered with graffiti. Shards of glass are scattered across the floor. Broken tables and chairs are strewn everywhere. As my heart sinks, I am overwhelmed by a feeling of homesickness. Why would I wish away all the things I had? All I feel is regret, and the need to flee this strange place.

As I do, I catch a glimpse of myself in a cracked mirror hanging on the wall. I am mesmerized by my own smooth, flawless skin, so shiny that it could almost be a mirror itself. My eyes are bright, expertly made up in bright colors my mother never permitted me to wear. Crimson red lipstick stains my smooth lips. Pulling myself away from the mirror, I look to my side only to see a window, wreathed in cobwebs. Newly focused on escaping the room, I push aside the silky threads and jump out the window.

I find myself running toward the burning overpass. There are the porcelain people who were gathered at the bridge before my adventure. I now look exactly like them. I sit and stare at the flames just like them. Gazing into the infuriating flames like a sunset, I realize that I no longer look like myself. A tear slides down my perfectly smooth cheek, and I hope with all my might that I would see another shooting star, to bring me back to myself.

Very soon, I see a little girl who looks like the old me approaching. She begins to stare into the fire as she takes a place beside me. She whispered, “I created you, I created this place. If you can distinguish the burning bridge, I will take back your wish.” I reveal a slight grin as I realize how easy this task I was given would be. I need to find a source of water to defuse the raging flames. She returned the grin and informed me that there are no bodies of water around and I would have to find another method. The gears in my head are turning rapidly and I came up with the idea of splashing some of the magic liquid onto the bridge. The girl fetched me some of the liquid and I threw it on the fire. I’m relieved and want nothing more than to be back to my normal self. She points toward the other side of the bridge and appeared to be amused when I request to be changed back. She looks at me, “You really think I was going to go through with my promise? I wanted you to extinguish the fire so that the force field would be taken down.” I’m no longer smiling with excitement; my eyes quickly fill with anger and drown in fear. The girl pointed as a horde of large Haymen head our way.

“Run.”

What Lies Beneath?

By Sienna Novelli (Sun Valley High School, Aston, PA)

It was a Friday night when Olivia and Malcolm decided to walk to the woods outside of their town. They wanted to find out for themselves if the stories they heard about the door of no return were true. Old Jim was the owner of the local pizza shop, and would tell anyone who would listen that the wooden door opened inward, and anyone who entered the door had exactly sixty minutes to get out, or they would never be heard from again. All of the teenagers, for miles around, heard about the story, but none of them really thought it was true. Olivia and Malcolm had been dating each other for the past year, and have always been an adventurous couple. As they got closer to their destination, Olivia began to wonder if they were doing the right thing. Were they heading to a dead end path? Olivia started to grip Malcolm’s arm tighter as they walked for hours to what they thought would be fun. They both stopped, looked into each other’s eyes, and continued to their destination. Hand in hand, they decided to cross over the bridge. Would they open the door? Or would they walk away? Once they arrived, Olivia hesitated on going any further. However, since Malcolm was the daredevil of the two he was willing to do anything. He pushed the door open as he turned to Olivia. He took her by the arm and noticed that she was shaking. He closed his eyes, and took a deep breath as they went inside.

They heard noises they could not identify. The room was empty except for a table and four chairs, plus a large clock on the wall. As the couple was looking around they came upon a second door, opened it and walked down the steps to a basement. They noticed beautiful flowers, and colorful paintings that hung in the room. They were admiring the furniture, when a man grabbed Olivia by the arm, and pushed Malcolm against the wall, He was unconscious before he fell to the ground. Olivia shouted “Please leave me alone.” As he moved towards them. he pointed to an old clock over his right shoulder, and told them “They have been in his house for twelve minutes, and have just forty eight minutes left to get out, or they will be executed for trespassing.”

The stranger picked Malcolm up, and after he threw him over his shoulder, carried him upstairs, sat him in one of the four chairs, and tied a rope around him. In the meantime, Olivia was trying to find a way out when she noticed the house did not have any windows or doors, just the one they came in. The stranger started back down the steps, as Olivia hid underneath him. She found a large piece of metal and tried to hit him over the head, but he pushed her against the wall, and cut her left arm. He carried her upstairs and placed her in one of the empty chairs. She looked at the clock on the wall and realized that she had thirty minutes to live. After the stranger left the room, she tried to wake up Malcolm. Olivia could not free him, because the rope was very thick and she just could not undo the knots. Malcolm was still lifeless. The stranger returned to the room, grabbed her arm and placed her in the chair, across from Malcolm. After he finished tying her up, he took another rope, and threw it over the wooden beam above the table. He placed the rope around Malcolm’s neck, and tied the other end to a pulley that was attached to a wall. The stranger explained, “That he was going to hang both of them for just coming into his house”. Malcolm woke up, just as the stranger was placing a rope around Olivia’s neck. She began to cry hysterically. The stranger told them both, “It will be over in minutes.” The stranger walked over to the pulley, and started to laugh. The couple were yelling and screaming as loud as they could, in hopes that someone would be able to help them. At exactly 9:35, the stranger started to pull the rope, and lifted Malcolm, by his neck. Olivia could see his feet kicking, and then silence. As the stranger turned towards her, Olivia’s heart began to race, she was never this scared before. She finally passed out.

She regain consciousness in the local hospital, and noticed a nurse beside her bed. The nurse gave her an injection in her left arm, and she started to feel very comfortable. She looked around and was quite confused on how she got to a hospital. Several minutes passed by when a police officer walk into her room. She could only see his back. The officer was talking to the nurse and she heard him explain that he found her walking alone, and unable to talk on a bridge. The nurse picked up several pieces of bandages and left the room. The officer was writing something on a clipboard. He turned around and walked to the bed.

She opened her eyes and froze.

It was the stranger from behind the door.