Sarah misses the bus one morning, so decides to take a shortcut though the woods and stumbles across a world hidden from ours for centuries.
My eyes snapped open. I immediately saw early morning light pouring through my window like liquid gold. The shadow of the old oak tree made patterns in the sunlight, which moved and changed. My hand was on the SNOOZE button on my alarm clock, but I don't remember touching it. I lazily threw off the blankets covering my body. I gently set my feet on the ugly gray carpet covering my floor. I looked up at the window longingly, wishing that school could be any day but today. It was supposed to be 70 degrees today. Not a cloud in the sky, either. It was springtime, and all the rain water from yesterday was supposed to have dried up.
I tore my eyes from the window and looked at my alarm clock. Seeing the time, I scrambled to stand on my feet. I had 20 minutes to get ready!
I ran to the bathroom, washed my hair, yanked a brush through it, and brushed my teeth. Running to my room with a towel wrapped around my hair, I threw on a simple cotton tee shirt and a cardigan and a pair of blue jeans. I put on my favorite Converse sneakers and after double-knotting the laces, I grabbed my school bag and a granola bar. I would have no time for breakfast.
"BYE, MOM!" I yelled into the house as I turned the knob of the door. I snuck a peek at the clock on the wall of my living room. I had less than 2 minutes to catch the bus!
Being fourteen has only disadvantages. You're just young enough to not drive a car, you're put down by upperclassmen in high school (which kills, by the way).
As I opened the door to my house an ugly yellow school bus passed by, and I'm not on it.
I wanted to yell and cuss loudly, but my mother would've heard me, come out of the house and smacked me in the back of the head. So, instead of that, I threw a silent temper tantrum on the porch of the house. I stomped my foot and jumped up and down, but when my neighbor opened the door to come out and water her flowers, I stopped. I rushed to the garage, stuffing my granola bar in my mouth. I opened the garage and pulled out my bike. I'd been using it a lot more now because I'd been missing the bus a lot more.
I put on my helmet without buckling the strap. I hopped on the seat and started pedalling instantly. I rolled down the driveway. Down the street. As I accidently rolled into a pothole, my helmet flew off my head, but I was so focused on getting to school that I didn't notice.
I turned left, taking a shortcut through the woods.
The woods were the place that was the closest to home, now that my brother had moved away. My father had been killed in a car accident before I was born. Don't get me wrong, I love my mother, but there are times when you can tell that she's near the point of falling apart. My brother helps pay the bills. He sends us money. He has a great job, and you can tell that my mother wants a high-paying job like him. I know that she tries not to go crazy for my sake, but you can also tell that she can't wait for me to turn sixteen so I can get a job.
Anyway, I was pedalling towards the woods. I pedalled through an opening. Most people stay away from the woods because there are no real paths and the trees can be very scary and wild animals lurk in here. But I love it. The ground was bathed in green light and the trees were alive with sounds. Pedalling even harder, the dead leaves that had somehow survived the winter winds crunched beneath my wheels. I couldn't help marveling at the trees until I slammed hard on the brakes to avoid hitting a bright red cardinal that had wandered in my path. I went skidding through the leaves, and ran right into a large gray rock. I flew over the handle bars, and slammed against an old tree with rough bark. I hit my head and felt blinding pain on my forehead. I blacked out as I hit the ground.
I opened my eyes to find the bright red cardinal on my nose, it's claws digging into my flesh, drawing blood.
"Get off of me!" I yelled. The bird flapped its wings in suprise, hopped off of me in disgust, and chirped at me angrily.
I got up slowly and took a look at myself. There was a gash on the top of my head that was bleeding badly. I gingerly touched it and then winced. It might need stiches. My backpack lay about 5 ft. away. I staggered over and grabbed it, took out my gym shirt that I had taken home to wash, and then wrapped it around my head. Yes, I probably looked ridiculous, but it was better than bleeding to death. The shirt was soaked in miniutes.
I looked for my bike. It was still by the large gray stone that had made me fly over the handle bars. The front tire had popped and was flat. The frame was bent. I took my phone out of my pocket. The screen had a web of cracks. It was busted. I checked the watch on my wrist. The side was dented just barely, but I could tell the time. I had about 20 seconds until first period started.
"See what you did?!" I yelled at the bird, who was still hopping behind me, chirping. It was probably insulting me in Birdese. "Now my clothes are a mess, I'm bleeding, I'm going to be late, my cell phone is busted and my bike is broken!" The bird chirped back at me angrily, cussing me out.
I could barely stand. My head was still bleeding badly, despite the shirt. I grasped a tree for support. The bird continued chirping.
"What do you want?" I asked wearily. I felt defeated... to a bird. The bird was hopping up and down, not caring that it looked absolutely stupid in its giddiness. For a moment I felt a new surge of anger. It was like the bird was happy that I was hurt, that I was going to die out here from my bleeding head...
But then I figured that that was stupid. It was a bird. It doesn't know what's going on. All it knows is that I surprised it and now it doesn't like me.
I turned around to see why it was so happy. I noticed for the first time that the bird's feathers seemed to glow. I blinked my eyes. I was losing so much blood that I was seeing things.
The bird started to hop up a hill that led to the House. The House was an old creaky place that small kids believe ghosts live in. It was old, gray, and needed a new paint job. It looked terrible and the dust coated everything. Animals lived in there, like bats, birds, racoons, maybe rabbits.
The bird hopped three times then stopped, turned around, and chirped. Follow me! it seemed to say.
I stayed rooted where I was. I really was seeing things.
Follow me! the bird pleaded.
I took a hesitant step away from the tree.
Follow me! Follow me!
I took another step. Then another. Stumbling, I followed the bird up the hill to the broken House.
When we got to the door, it was unlocked. The bird flew in through a broken window. I stumbled in drunkenly behind the bird through the door.
My face was covered in blood and it was running down my neck and on my shirt. My skin felt uncomfortable and sticky.
There was an inch of dust on the floor and a few sets of footprints runnning across the floor, but most of them didn't go past the stairs that were about four feet away from the door. The floor seemed to be made out of wood. The ceiling was cracked and the paint was peeling off the walls. To the left, there were white sheets covering the furniture. To the right, the kitchen was in ruins. Pots and pans were all over the floor. Some were smashed in and dented. Others were rusty and had spider webs on them.
The bird flew around my head, then landed on the floor. Right under its feet was a trap door hidden in dust. I could tell that it had never been used before, even by the familiy that used to live in this old house, generations ago. The bird seemed to want me to go inside.
Open it! Open it! the bird seemed to say.
I must be crazy, I thought as I stumbled to the trapdoor. The smallest handle just seemed to appear when I started to look for it. My fingers wrapped around it and I jerked it open. There was only complete darkness below. I glanced at the bird.
What are you waiting for? Go in! Go in!
I'm going to die down here, I thought, And no one is going to know about it.
I slowly went down the rusty ladder that led down into the darkness. Blood was still dripping from my head. I felt woozy. I stepped down the ladder and counted the rungs. 1, 2, 3. I felt like I was going to throw up. 8, 9, 10. I'm losing too much blood. 17, 18, floor. There was no light, except the soft glow coming from the bird. Wait... the bird is glowing? I thought that had just been an illusion. I rubbed my eyes, but the bird continued giving off a gentle, redish light. I stumbled around blindly until I found the wall. Leaning against it, I walked down what I thought was a tunnel stretching into the darkness. The bird did a mixture of flying and hopping around in the tunnel. I followed it thinking, I'm crazy. I'm so stupid. I'm going to die.
I was so busy thinking that I ran into a door. I almost fell back, but I clawed at the walls and managed to stay on my feet.
There was a small keyhole in the door that gave off an inch of light. I felt the handle just above it. It was cold and smooth, and it didn't feel like it was rusted. I wrapped my fingers around it.
I glanced down at the glowing bird.
Go on. Open it.
Taking a deep breath, I turned the knob.