Jake stands in front of me and holds his arm out, as if to protect me.
One of the goblins steps forwards. “Hello humans! Welcome to the Nightland, where your worst nightmares run wild!” He bows, and several of his companions laugh.
“Sargoph, they’re just two human children. Why do we have to take one of them back to the Offspring?” The one who has spoken was dark green with yellow stripes down his back.
Sargoph glares at him. “Frotis, the Offspring need all the food they can get, and you know how hard it is to find good food for all of them in the Nightland.”
Frotis nods and Sargoph turns back to us. He rubs his scaly hands together as his yellow eyes run over our bodies.
He takes a step closer to Jake. “Yes, the boy will greatly please the Offspring. The girl, yes, we will come back for her when she gets fattened up.” Sargoph takes another step closer to Jake. I tense my body, ready to spring. A three foot goblin doesn’t look like that much of a threat. Jake must have sensed my reaction, because he tightens his arm up and places his hand against the wall, preventing me from escaping. Sargoph cackles as he steps even closer. I watch as Sargoph threw something at Jake. I close my eyes in the blinding light that followed.
When I opened my eyes, all the goblins and Jake were gone. I run out in the hallway, thinking maybe they were still there. The hallway is empty, but the silver handle was back. I grab it and try to turn it, but it’s stuck. I look out the window across the hall and see the sun rising. I hear Cassie and Mrs. Whittingham start to move around in their rooms, so I run back into mine and close the door.
I go downstairs to breakfast around eight, the time Mrs. Whittingham had set last night. Amazingly, they are acting like nothing was wrong. Had last night just been a bad dream? I sit down at the table.
Cassie stops what she was doing and looks at me. “Sharon, there’s no one here named Jake. The only people staying here are you, me, and Mrs. Whittingham.”
Mrs. Whittingham glares at me. “I have a hard enough time remembering you two live here, I don’t need you throwing in anyone else. Leave your imaginary friends in your room.”
I grab an orange and toss it from hand to hand, thinking. If they didn’t remember Jake, then last night wasn’t a dream. And if last night wasn’t a dream…oh, great. That means that I have to go after Jake. And going after Jake means that I have to go through whatever was behind the door with the silver handle.
I slip out of the kitchen and into my room before Cassie and Mrs. Whittingham notice. I sit on my bed and try to remember last night. There were a bunch of three-foot tall goblins; there was Sargoph and Frotis, and something about the Nightland and the Offspring.
I sigh and look around my room. My eyes linger on the door that connected my room to Jake’s. I shake my head and look at my floor. I just met this guy yesterday. Why do I feel responsible? Because the voice said that I was the guardian of the door and I shouldn’t have let the goblins pass through, even though I couldn’t even stop them from taking Jake. I know that most people would call the police, but how do you explain to them that the hot guy staying with you at a foster home was abducted by a goblin called Sargoph and whisked away to the Nightland to feed the Offspring without getting sent to an asylum?
The sound of wings snapping interrupts my thoughts as I look up to find the source. I see the winged husky I drew last night flying around my head. I must be going crazy. The husky lands on my bedpost and cocks its head to one side, studying me.
“What?” I really must be going crazy if I’m talking to a drawing.
“I just thought you might want to find your friend. But if I was wrong…”
How does it know this?
“Do you know where he is?”
The husky nods and circles around in the air again before settling back down. “Sargoph and Frotis took him to the Nightland. That’s a land where all dreams are, good and bad. Sometimes dreams escape through a door like the one here and get their first taste of freedom. When this happens, they begin to transform and turn into nightmares. Over the years, a group of them formed a small ‘group’ as they call it. They steal young dreams and feed them things from this world so that they grow up tasting freedom and wanting to be like the nightmares. And sadly, that’s where your friend, Jake, was taken. He’s the next meal for the Offspring. And once he’s gone, he’ll be a dream to you, nothing more. Just a face, a memory that’s there one second and gone the next…Unless you go and save him.”
I look at the small husky. I really must be going crazy. Then a thought crosses my mind. “Can you show me Jake?” the husky nods and stares into my eyes.
I find myself transported to a dark world. I hear Sargoph, Frotis, and the other goblins talking. I see Jake tied up against a tree. There’s a gag in his mouth and a cut on his cheek. His eyes are closed and I wonder if he’s asleep. Then, the vision vanishes and I’m back in my room.
I look for the husky, but it’s gone. A voice echoes in my head.Go find Jake.
I get up and see a black necklace with the winged husky on it. I put it on and walk to the small door that leads to the Nightland. I’m debating on whether or not to open the door when I hear the sound of someone coming upstairs. In an effort to hide, I open the door and walk in, shutting it behind me.