Adventures in Akadia
Where Are We?
The bright glow that surrounded the door approached the children. Instinctively, they stepped backward, but the light quickly caught up and surrounded them. Their surroundings at White Creek Elementary began to fade from view and were replaced by the warm golden glow. Worried that Gabriela might somehow be in danger by being out in front, Elizabeth grabbed her arm and pulled Gabriela back in line with the others. Their eyes met and they exchanged worried looks.
Golden streams of light appeared and began circling around them. At first, the streams of light moved slowly but gradually began to move faster. As the light circled them more quickly, the kids felt a sensation of rushing wind. Jamari stuck out his hand and saw the streams of light swirl around his fingers, as though he had stuck his hand in a fast moving river.
The lights continued to circle around them for only a moment before they began to slow down again. The streams of light then faded and the golden glow around them soon did the same thing. As the glow faded, their surroundings came back into few and the children could see that they were no longer at White Creek Elementary. Instead, they were standing at the top of a grassy hill, overlooking a beautiful green valley with mountains off in the distance.
The children stood in stunned silence. This place was completely unfamiliar to them and, at least from what they could see, it looked like nobody lived there: no homes, no buildings, no roads, and nobody in sight.
“Where are we?” Gabriela asked in a whisper.
“No idea,” Jamari replied. “I must be dreaming again.” He quickly looked over his classmates to see if their appearance had changed or if there was any other indication that he might be dreaming.
“I don’t think we’re dreaming,” Lukas said thoughtfully. “This has to be real.”
Looking around for clues, Elizabeth gasped at the sight of what was behind them. “Look, the door!”
The others quickly turned and saw, about 10 feet behind them, the door that had brought them here. The door looked the same, but different. The glow was now gone and instead of a wooden frame, the door was surrounded by a stone archway.
“How did this get here?” Gabriela wondered out loud.
Without a word, Jamari walked right up to the door and reached for the knob. The door easily opened, but nothing magical happened this time. The children were surprised to see that the door didn’t lead anywhere, it just opened. Jamari stepped through and closed the door behind him. He then walked around the stone arch and join his classmates as they stood in wonder.
“So…” Elizabeth thought out loud. “Does that mean we’re stuck here?”
“I don’t think so,” Lukas responded.
“How do you know?” asked Gabriela.
“Well, think about it…” Lukas began, “...Ivy talked about coming to this place, but we saw her at school, so she must have gotten back somehow.”
“But how?” Gabriela asked.
Pondering this question, Lukas slowly walked around the stone archway. After taking one lap around it, he had an idea, “The door needed to be ready to bring us here…” he paused, thinking, “...so that must mean it needs to be ready to take us back.”
Accepting Lukas’ hypothesis, Jamari asked, “Okay, so how do we show it we’re ready to go back? What are we supposed to do?”
In a whisper, Gabriela responded, “Look for Aurelia.”
The other three looked to Gabriela, hearing that she had said something but unable to make out what it was.
“Look for Aurelia,” she repeated. “That’s what Ivy told us to do.”
“But how do we find her? Where do we find her?” Jamari asked. “This place looks like it goes on forever.”
They turned to face the valley again and walked only a few steps forward. The rising sun was now a little bit higher and was lighting up more of the valley. As they looked over the valley in its new light, it hit them: the door had been carved to look exactly like the view they had right now.
After a moment with this realization, Gabriela spoke, “It’s so pretty here.”
Her words were an invitation for the group to pause and notice how beautiful this place was. Birds were now singing. Butterflies and bees were already busy traveling from flower to flower. The leaves in the trees were slowly rocking back and forth in the morning breeze. The air smelled perfect and had an immediate relaxing effect. They still had a lot of questions, but for now they were able to relax.
As they continued to survey their surroundings, Elizabeth noticed something. “There, look,” she said, pointing down to the valley.
“What is it?” Jamari asked, trying to follow the path of her finger.
Lukas was the second to see it and spoke up. “It’s a path.”
With some help from the others, Gabriela and Jamari were also able to see the path down in the valley. After a brief silence, Jamari spoke up, “Well, what are we waiting for. Let’s go!”
“Wait!” Elizabeth said. “Are we sure that’s the right way to go?”
“Do you have any better ideas?” Jamari asked, slightly annoyed
Elizabeth’s voice became quiet. “Well, no…” She paused. “I just want to make sure we do the right thing.”
Looking to Gabriela and Lukas, Jamari asked, “What do you think?”
Lukas looked at Elizabeth and said, “I think he’s probably right. There doesn’t seem to be any other clues about where to go.”
Gabriela nodded in agreement.
“Alright, so can we go now?” Jamari asked, already several steps ahead of them.
Elizabeth finally nodded and they followed Jamari down the hill.
As they approached and joined the path, they noticed how it looked a lot like any other hiking trail you might find at home. Something was different though, this trail seemed a little too well-kept to be a regular hiking trail. There weren’t any bumps or sticks or rocks on the path. It was perfectly smooth, and even though it was made of dirt, it didn’t seem like it would get their shoes dirty.
Brightly colored blossoms grew on both sides of the path and reminded Gabriela of her mom and how much she loved flowers. She began to gather flowers for a bouquet. Elizabeth noticed and happily started gathering a bouquet of her own.
After crossing the valley, the trail led the children into a dense forest. Once in the forest, it became much cooler. The trees were so dense that only the occasional stream of sunlight made it to the forest floor. Now a little more nervous, the children began walking closer to one another.
“Do you think we’re still going the right way?” Elizabeth asked.
Much less sure than before, Jamari responded, “Yeah, probably.”
They had only been walking through the forest for a few minutes when they were stopped by a strange sound approaching them. The children stopped walking and stood still as they strained to hear better. It didn’t sound like anything you would expect to hear in a forest. It didn’t sound like any sort of animal. It wasn’t footsteps. It wasn’t a storm or even a stream. The noise grew louder until—
“Is that giggling?” Lucas asked.
The noise grew louder and louder and then it seemed to surround them. From both the ground and up in the trees, the sound of high-pitched giggling now echoed in the forest! What could possibly be giggling in the middle of a dark forest?
With their hearts racing, the children formed a circle with their backs toward each other. Jamari grabbed a nearby stick, Lukas pulled a pencil out of his pocket, and the girls held their bouquets at the ready. They were sure something bad was about to happen.
But to their surprise, nothing happened. Instead, the giggling began to quiet down and the scuffling on the ground and in the trees seemed to move away from them and down the path. As quickly as the noise had come, it was gone.
“Well, that was weird,” Jamari said, still tightly gripping his stick.
“What was that?” asked Elizabeth.
Jamari didn’t answer and just started walking forward again.
“What are you doing?!” Elizabeth asked. “You aren’t actually going to follow that noise, are you?”
“Well, we can’t turn around. Besides, nothing bad happened.”
Elizabeth looked to Gabriela, hoping for some agreement. Gabriela thought for a second and said, “Whatever it was, it did seem happy. I think it might actually be trying to show us where to go.”
Elizabeth didn’t disagree, but she still didn’t like the idea of following the noise deeper into the forest. She looked to Lukas.
“I don’t know," he said, shrugging his shoulders. “You never want to follow an animal in the wild. But I’m almost sure that wasn’t an animal.”
Elizabeth looked up to the trees, then down to the group.
“Alright,” she said with a sigh. “Let’s go.”
The four children continued down the path, sticking even closer to each other than they had before. Enough time passed that the children were starting to become tired and hungry.
“How much longer?” Elizabeth whined.
Nobody responded but the group stopped to take a break. Lukas found a rock just off the path to sit on. Gabriela and Elizabeth found a nearby log that became their bench. Without wandering too far, Jamari decided to explore their surroundings. Having hiked for well over an hour, the group had plenty of time to think about their experience so far in this new place. None of their questions had been answered. In fact, reflecting on the experience only made them think of new ones.
After catching her breath, Gabriela spoke up, “Why do you think we’re the only ones who came? Why didn’t the rest of our class come with us?”
The others hadn’t considered this yet: Out of all the kids that go to White Creek Elementary, why were they chosen to come?
Lukas began, “I bet it is because we—”
“Shh!” Jamari interrupted.
The others turned toward Jamari’s voice and saw that he was holding a finger to his mouth. He then motioned for them to hide with him behind a nearby bush. Now crouching together behind a bush, they could see what Jamari had found.
The dense forest opened to a large grassy area about as big as their school’s gymnasium. At the center of the clearing was a small house that looked like it belonged in a fairy tale.
As they examined the house and its surroundings, it was clear that somebody lived there. There were well-kept gardens all around and smoke coming from the chimney.
“Should we go see if someone is home?” Jamari asked.
Gabriela was the first to respond, “I think so. This could be where Aurelia lives.”
“Or maybe a big ugly giant lives here and he’s going to eat us,” Elizabeth countered.
The rest of the group looked to Elizabeth, each of them giving her a look that asked, are you being serious?
“Okay, fine,” Elizabeth conceded. “Which one of you is going to knock on the door?”
“I did the last door,” Gabriella joked. “It’s someone else’s turn.”
Jamari chuckled. “Okay, I’ll do it.”
He emerged from behind the bush and walked a few steps forward before realizing the others were still behind the bush.
“C’mon you turkeys,” he said while motioning for them to follow. “I’m not going up there by myself.”
Lukas, Elizabeth, and Gabriela traded glances and then slowly moved out from behind the bush to follow Jamari. He led the group up to the house until they were standing on the front porch. As they approached the home, they were reminded of the door to room 143. The wood was the same color, the railings were carved with similar patterns, and the doorknob looked like it was made from the same material.
Whoever built this house might have also built the door.
Jamari raised his hand, turned his head to look at the group, then back to the door, and gave it three big knocks.