This story is by Shanna Adams and was part of our 2017 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the Spring Writing Contest stories here.
I don’t know why I didn’t see the hole. I was just walking through the park minding my own business when I felt like the earth beneath my feet just gave way. Maybe it was because I was checking my phone for the fiftieth time. Apparently, I was not paying attention. Now, I am trapped.
I look up and it seems like it may be night time or the hole itself is covered up. I can’t be sure. I use my phone to light up my surroundings and see nothing but dirt on one side. I spot a wooden slab on the opposite wall.
It appears that I may be able to climb out of this predicament. I put my phone in my back pocket, and clutch on a firm looking chunk of dirt. Hefting myself up, I work towards the top. Climbing is hard for me because it is not like I work out.
I get about half way up, and I slip. I fall right off the wall and straight onto my back. I try to lift myself off of the ground. My head immediately starts swimming, and I have to lie back down for a moment.
I turn to my side and stare towards the piece of wood that I saw earlier. Even though it is dark in the hole, it appears that there is a faint glow that is emanating from it. The whole idea that a piece of wood was a source of light was nonsense. I must have hit my head harder than I thought.
I keep looking at this magical wood, and it starts to warp into what appears to be a door. The door is green with a small brass knob. It has a little peephole that you open to peer to the other side. My head hurts bad at this point that I have to close my eyes.
While resting, I began to notice that a super bright light is shining on me. It was radiating heat warming up the chill in my bones. I open my eyes quickly, and all I see is black. The door is no longer lit up.
If it weren’t for the strange breathing sounds coming from behind, I would panic. My eyes widen in an instant. I had been alone, but I got a distinct feeling that was not the case. Whatever the thing that was breathing behind me it smells me. My self-preservation instinct kicks into high gear.
I held still because maybe this is some animal that had fallen into the hole. I felt it come closer to me as I tried hard to keep my breathing steady. The breath of the creature is getting hot on the back of my neck, and I realize it is mere inches away from me.
That’s when its fingers clutch my arm to turn me over. I shoot up and back away from the thing. I backed up into the wall looking around frantically to see what had touched me. The brush had felt hot. Whatever it is, it has a higher body temperature.
I peer out into the dark, but I can’t see what is in the hole with me. Squinting my eyes do not help in my quest to find this creature. I see two red glowing orbs coming from the dark on the opposite side.
“Hello?” I ask. A deep growl is my only answer. My heart starts pumping wildly. I am about two steps away from passing out in fear, and I feel that I need to keep my wits. I take a deep breath to calm my nerves. There is no other choice but to keep my inner peace.
“I am not going to hurt you, I swear,” I say to it. My voice is shaking the whole time. I feel like such a coward. It didn’t growl at me this time and cocked its head as if it is curious.
“Why are you here, little girl?” It asks me. Its voice has an inhuman quality to it.
“I fell in this hole on accident. I tried to get out, but I fell back in.” I told the creature. I begin to sob uncontrollably. The monster edges closer to the spot where I lay.
“I can help you leave this place, but it will be dangerous. You have to go under to go up. Can you handle it?” It says as it stares at me with a small look of compassion.
“I think I can, and besides, what other choice do I have?” I say to it.
“Good point,” it grunts, “What is your name, child?”
“My name is Cynthia. What is yours?” I ask.
“Gaap. Follow me.” It answered while pointing to the door in the earthen wall.
Green light spews from the door as it is opening. I can’t quite see what is behind the door, but there seems to be what looks like a town beyond the portal that we are about to walk through.
I hope I can do this, and hope that this doesn’t signify that I am dead. Not only would that suck, but I am sure that it means that I have gone to hell. Well, I am not sure if that place is hell, but it looks like what I think of when reading the Greek myths about Hades.
Gaap grabs my hand and leads me through the door. As we pass the threshold, a brilliant light blinds me, but my eyes begin to adjust. Everything in this world is black and a source of light with the same green tinge from earlier. There is nothing that appears to look like a sun in the ordinary sense, but this world is sufficiently lit up.
Gaap took me in front of this small hut and turned to me. “In here we can get the map that will help us find the way to your world.” He knocks on the door.
A small woman opens the door and looks up at my escort. She looks at me and scowls. I have no idea why, because I have never met this lady before. She motions us to enter her home.
“Why have you brought such a dirty beast to me, Gaap?” She asked.
“She fell into the gateway just to the north of this village. The earth above the portal somehow destabilized.” He answered.
“Ah, so it needs to get back home, then.” She waved her hand dismissively as she spoke. “Come, I have just the thing to guide you to the southern portal. It will be the easiest for her to travel through.”
She walks to a shelf on the left side of the room. It has tons of dusty old books piled on top of each other. She picks up a piece of paper and blows on it. A ton of dust comes flying off of the page causing me to sneeze.
“Ah. Here it is!” She exclaims. She walks over to the table in the middle of the room and lays it on top. Gaap and I move closer to find our way.
The map looks like a stereotypical pirate map complete with a dotted line and an X marking the spot. I roll my eyes. I don’t see how this is going to get me back to my world. It looks more like a joke than an actual map. My two companions do not look as if they are joking. Perhaps I am wrong.
“I can fly you to the portal, but the rest is up to you,” Gaap says to me. I nod my head at him in agreement. The sooner, the better.
“Let’s go, child.” He says and guides me outside thanking the lady for her time.
Once outside, Gaap starts getting taller than he was before, and wings sprout out of his shoulders. I can only stare with my mouth agape. There is no way that this is happening to me. I can’t believe that anyone can double their size not to mention grow wings.
He holds his hand out to me to help me crawl on his back. I guess I am to ride on his shoulders like the child he keeps calling me. I am just going to go with it, and hope for the best. What other choice do I have?
He lifts off, and we are whizzing through the air. He is a fast flier, and I should be scared. However, I feel pretty safe on his shoulders. I imagine this is what a child feels like on their dad’s back. The ground below blurs as we pick up more speed to our destination. Before I know it, we arrive.
I get off of Gaap’s shoulders, and he starts to shrink to his standard size. He looks at me and nods his head. Pointing to a small cave, he indicates that is my way home. I turn to thank him, but he is gone. I feel a sense of sorrow at his sudden absence, but I don’t belong here.
I take a deep breath and head for the cave. It is dark, but I am not afraid. I feel like all I have to do is walk straight, and I will come out at the other end to be home by supper. Confident, I walk inside the mouth of the cave.
Just on the inside, a torch catches on fire. It startles me, but I must keep going. There is no turning back now. With a new sense of determination, I move forward into the unknown.
The torches ignite to guide my way through the tunnel of the cave. It feels as if I am climbing a hill, and my legs begin to burn with exhaustion. I hope that I am not too much further to my destination.
All of a sudden, I hear a blood-curdling scream. That sound can’t be good. I start running as fast as I can.
I see the outside world ahead of me. I must keep going. The walls begin to close around me, and I am starting to panic. I shake it off at first, but they truly were closing on me. If I didn’t hurry, the earth would swallow me.
The closer I get to my destination, the ground moves quicker. It is trying to prevent me from leaving this place. My heart is pounding so hard, but I keep going. The earth caving in must be a way to prevent the creatures of this world from getting to the next realm. I truly am in hell!
I can feel the earth surrounding me as I reach the top. I claw at the soil. I am almost there, and I reach out my hand right before dirt swallows me. My hand is the only part that made it outside.
I try to grasp anything I can. Maybe I can pull myself out of this trap before I drown in the sand. Someone pulls my hand, and the sense of pure joy clutches my chest.
People dig as fast as they can to get me out. Luckily, they get to my head right before I pass out. That’s when I noticed that my rescuers look like Aborigines. It was at this point I realize that I am not going to make it home for dinner in time. How would I explain this?