Estimated reading time — 21 minutes
Here is the journal I kept during my time at The Ash House. At times I was unable to write, so some entries are recorded by memory. At the time of this journal, I had just been dropped off to the Ash House by my old parents. This journal spans somewhere between 2002 and 2003 in Gary, Indiana.
January 17, 2002
Kai talked for the first time in weeks. He told me how much he hated The Instructor and how she was an evil woman. “The devil incarnate,” that’s what he said. I couldn’t agree more with him.
January 30, 2002
There must be something wrong with Kai. He’s talked twice in the past three days. And to me, a Ground Level resident, out of all people. I wonder if I have something he wants. That’s the only reason anyone, especially Kai, would bother talking to me.
February 5, 2002
Everyone was whispering today. No one would come close to me, and I think I know why.
Two boys, Michael and Andrew came up to me at lunch to tell me to save two seats at the Ground Floor table tomorrow. They are from the Second Floor, and me, being excited about someone talking to me, eagerly agreed. I didn’t think about who they are or what they’re known for. I saw the Basement kids enter, Kai leading. Everyone huddled away from them. No one dares to look at them. I stared just long enough to see Kai glaring at Michael and Andrew as they walked away. They just smiled. I wonder why?
February 6, 2002
Today was horrible. Utterly horrible. As mentioned yesterday, I saved a place at the Ground Floor table at lunch. At the sight of two Second Floor kids, my Floormates all moved away.
“Enestra, was it?” that was Michael’s first question. I nervously nodded my head. They both asked normal questions at first. We talked about the news going around the Ash House. Then Michael got up and sat next to me. He was smiling, but not at me. He was smiling at Kai, who was glaring at him. I realized what was going on now. I asked Michael to stop. His smile faltered. He was looking at me now and I didn’t like that any more than before. He then smiled again and before I could react he started pulling me towards him. There was a loud bang, everything quieted and all eyes were on The Basement Floor table. Kai had slammed his tray down on the table. His dark, almond-shaped eyes were filled with rage. He made his way smoothly over to my table, and the kids that remained at the end of the table quickly scattered at the sight of the black-haired boy nearing the table.
“I’ll give you three seconds to leave before I turn your bodies into tomorrow’s mystery meat,” Andrew looked at Michael. Michael swallowed hard, then finally agreed and left. Kai looked at me once, the fiery inferno in his eyes beginning to die down, then returned to his table.
February 10, 2002
I got the news today. I will be moved to the Basement today at 3:33 PM sharp. That’s where the troublemakers go. I don’t know which category I fit into, but I won’t dare question it. Everyone on the Ground Floor refused to talk to me, no surprise there.
When I got to the door that leads to The Basement, my heart dropped. This was really happening. The Instructor opened the door and a blast of cold air billowed out. It was pitch black. My eyes struggled to adjust as The Instructor pushed me down a step and proceeded to shut and lock the door behind me without a word. I could hear everyone walking around upstairs. I made my way down. I had no idea what the layout of this place is. I felt a brush against my arm and gave a little yelp, but a voice calmed me down. I asked who it was. The voice gave an immediate answer, “Kai,” he led me by hand for what felt like hours. Then he stopped and led me to a bed and said to sleep for now and that he’ll be here if I need him.
February 11, 2002
I woke up several times through the… night? I don’t know if it’s day or night due to the darkness I couldn’t see very well. I got out of bed and began to feel my way around. After a minute or so, I got to what felt like another bed. I felt my way up and felt something warm. I then realized it was someone’s stomach. I yelped as a hand grabbed my wrist as I began to pull away. The voice asked who I was, I told them my name. The voice said they didn’t know me and got out of the bed, their hand still anchored to my wrist. I was pushed down, and I braced myself for a slap or something when I heard another voice chime in. The newer voice asked what was going on. The person let go of my hand and gasped.
“Kai!” Kai told the young boy to get lost, and he did exactly that. Kai helped me up and led me to a different room. I thanked him, but he didn’t respond. He just sat me down on another bed, presumably his. We sat there for a while, while he read a book, before he finally told me to stand up and led me to the stairs. He shouted for everyone and they all came.
We then went upstairs for lunch. Kai kept me close as we waited for the door to be unlocked and went to lunch. Not much else happened, besides the occasional glance towards our table. After, Kai took me back to his room and gave me the second bed in it.
February 12, 2002
I got out of bed and walked straight into a wall. Kai was there to lead me away from it, and I could have sworn I heard him snicker. At this point, my vision had adjusted just enough for me to see outlines. It was already lunch and Kai waited for me. We hurried up, this time I didn’t have to hold Kai’s hand. When we walked in we got many questioning stares. But they were quickly put to rest by a simple glare from Kai. We sat down next to other at the table. We did not talk.
A girl named Alice talked to me a lot. She kept it respectful, well aware that Kai was watching intently. She said she was 16 and had a sister in The Basement with her that was 12. She told me about the system of The Basement, which they created on their own due to lack of The Adults. What she told me was sort of a monarchy of some sort, Kai, though not the oldest, was their King. Whoever he would choose would be Queen, though there was none. Everyone else is considered equal under their King’s rule. Alice said that the oldest was 17, the youngest was eight, and Kai was 14. He is just under one year older than me.
February 14, 2002
Today, when I woke up, I was given the clothes for The Basement Floor by Kai. It was a plain black long-sleeved shirt, a plain black t-shirt, plain black sweatpants, and a black headband for girls. It went well with my dark hair and blue eyes. I was given the option of a haircut, which I took. To get it, I had to go to the Second Floor, which automatically meant Kai was accompanying me. Getting to the stairs was now an easy task, due to my eyes, which had adjusted to the darkness at this point, and because of the layout that Kai had taught me yesterday. He stopped suddenly as the door opened on its own. He told me to wait until their faces turned grey. I looked up at the door entrance, and to my horror, two vaguely humanoid figures stood with faces that slowly began to morph into stormy grey smudges. When the faces turned fully grey, they disappeared. Kai proceeded up as if nothing had happened.
When we finally got to the Second Floor, we got many stares, but no one dared talk with Kai around. When we got to The Barber, Kai stood in the corner of the bathroom staring at me until finally the job was done. It was a sort of bob cut, except it went to my shoulders. The Barber asked Kai if he needed anything, Kai just stared at The Barber then left with me in tow. I guess he liked his straight, messy black hair. Subconsciously, I lifted my hand and ran it through his hair. It was incredibly soft and straight. I immediately pulled back as Kai’s dark eyes turned to me. I apologized and he just shook his head and continued walking.
February 19, 2002
The Basement gives you strange dreams. They are scary. Many times I have woken up screaming. And every time Kai was there to lull me back to sleep.
February 26, 2002
There are scary things in the basement. The Shadows. They follow you. They know you. With time, they consume you. And they become you.
March 1, 2002
Kai was called up to talk with the other Kings and Queens today. I could have gone, I asked to go, but since I wasn’t officially declared a Queen, I was forbidden to go with him. After he left, I sat alone for a while. Then three or four boys came in. They were the idiots from The Changing Room. They grabbed me and muffled my screams with a cloth. Then, we entered a room.
“Have fun in The Well, darling,” one of the boys said.
“Let’s see if Kai can save her before she loses her sanity,” another laughed.
The third boy shoved me through a small square in the wall three feet off the ground and whispered, “Bye-bye, darling,” he slammed the cabinet like-door shut and I was left alone in The Well.
March 3, 2002
The Well is large. The Well is dark. The Well is home to The Shadows. They surround you. It is cold. The Well is the birthplace of Evil. The Well is home to The Devil. The Well has consumed countless minds, bodies, and souls. And now, The Well has begun to consume me.
March 5, 2002
Kai saved me. He crawled into The Well and found me. He dragged me out and carried me to his room, and held me close to him. Two days. That was how long I was stuck in The Well. It felt like years. Time has no relevance in The Well.
I learned too much in The Well. I learned about all The Evil in the world. Every sin, death, and tear was transferred to me. The Shadows told me. They told me many things, among them why babies are born crying. Do you want to know? It’s because they have seen The Basement. The Shadows. The Well. They have been told of The Shadows. The have been touched by The Shadows. They breathed the air The Devil exhaled. They cry because they feel the pain of The Basement. They cry because they are cradled by The Shadows, who show them pain. Not even Pandora’s Box could release such horrors. As they grow, they forget. But they still remember how to do Evil. That is why they cry. They cry for those who live in The Basement. For those who are yet to see The Basement. That’s what The Shadows say.
In those two days, I was born again. I saw The Well again. The Shadows again. The Devil again. I consumed a piece of each. I was given Pandora’s Box. I took everything but hope, and I devoured it. Because the only way to overcome pain, is to become pain. The only way to abandon fear, is to become fear. And the only way to find hope, is to lose it first.
March 7, 2002
Today I felt a bit better after my experience in The Well. We went up to lunch and Kai demanded I stay as close to him as possible. The boys who put me in The Well haven’t been seen since I was put in there. I don’t know where they went, and I’m not sure I want to. Kai and I sat at the end of The Table with Alice and Sera. The first person to say anything was Sera.
“What’s the deal with your hair?” she said. I didn’t know what she was going on about until Alice told her to shut up. It was too late. Kai already heard. At first he just stared at Sera, then Alice wrapped her arm around her, as if she was worried Kai would hurt her. Kai turned his dark, almond-shaped eyes on me. A scowl formed on his face as he said, “Marie Antoinette Syndrome.” I stared at him.
“Say what?” asked Sera.
Alice responded, “Marie Antoinette Syndrome. Often used to describe early graying or whitening of hair due to stress. Queen Marie Antoinette was the queen of France when she was captured and put on trial for execution. During her time locked up, her hair turned white due to extreme stress.”
We sat there silent for a while. Then Sera said, “I guess it’s because those boys put you in The Well, huh?” I flinched at the mention of that horrible place as Kai slammed a fist down and stood up.
“If I hear one more word about The Well,” he began, “I swear to The Gods, I’ll kill every last one of you,” he finished after pointing at all The Basement kids. The Lunchroom got real quiet after that.
March 8, 2002
Today I was awoken to the sound of Kai’s voice. He was telling me to get up. “We are going somewhere,” I got up and followed him to the door. I was about to walk up when he grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back. I remembered he did this last time. He said the same thing.
“Wait until their faces turn grey,” the same humanoid figures showed up and their faces again grew into a blotty grey.
“What are they?” I had said.
“We call them The Guardians. They have killed forty-seven people in two years. That’s only since I’ve gotten here,” I asked him why they kill people. “We don’t know,” he replied. “We think it’s a form of population control,” I nodded as we continued upstairs.
When we got to the Main Floor, I finally asked Kai where we were going.
“We are going to see The Instructor,” he replied. My heart dropped.
“W-why are we going to her?” I had asked. His reply was simple.
“I am going to make you The Queen.”
When we arrived in front of the door leading to The Instructors room, I started shaking. Kai grabbed my hand as he pushed open the door. When we walked in there was a small room made out of metal before actually entering The Instructor’s room. There were two boys that were lounging on the ground who stood up when they saw Kai.
“Well, Well, Well, look who it is,” the first boy said. I recognized him instantly.
“Michael, Andrew,” I whispered.
“Yes, that is what our names are,” Michael grinned as he stalked over to me. Before he could actually reach us though, Kai stepped in front of me.
“Would you be so kind as to open up that door?” Kai asked wryly.
“Why you little-” Michael began, but was interrupted by Andrew.
“Michael! Just let them in. They may be from The Basement, but Kai is still a King. And from the looks of it, I’d say he found his queen. So let them through and we’ll just get this over with,” he said quietly.
“You should listen to your friend,” Kai laughed.
“You coward! You are just gonna let these losers walk all over us? They’re Basement kids! We rule them! Why can’t anyone see that?” Michael screamed. With that he swung his fist at Kai who ducked and delivered a nasty right hook. Michael shrieked in pain as thick red blood dripped from his broken nose.
“Open the door, Andrew. I won’t ask again,” Kai snarled. Andrew began to move towards the door but Michael shouted at him to stop.
“We’ve worked so hard to get here, and I’m not letting Kai mess it up again!” he snarled. Then he whirled to face Kai. “Five years, Kai,” he laughed. “That’s a long time to hold the weight of The Basement, yeah?” He laughed maniacally as Kai clenched his fists, rage burning in his black eyes. “You’ve been down there for what? Seven years? I was ten back then. We both know you can’t stay down there forever, Kai.”
“Watch me,” Kai said calmly, obviously livid now.
“Ha!” Michael continued, “Kai, you’re bonkers, absolutely insane if you truly believe you’ll last that long. I bet The Shadows in The Well are so attached to you that, at this point, no matter where you go you’ll hear the voices. This girl of yours is next. You can’t handle it. Everything will disappear. You will neve-” Michael stopped so abruptly, I thought he might have had a heart attack, but then I saw that it was Kai. He had kicked him in the stomach, sending him hurtling across the floor. He hit the wall with a sickening crack.
“Andrew, open… The… Door,” Kai snarled. Fear shown in Andrew’s slanted brown eyes as he ran over to the door and opened it up. Kai turned around to look at me, his eyes widening with what seemed to be terror, or maybe… sadness.
“Oh, no. Please don’t do that. It’s okay. I’m not gonna hurt you,” Kai pleaded with me. It was only then that I realized I was crying. I had my hands over my mouth as well. He walked towards me and I stumbled away from him and fell. He kept repeating that he was sorry as he held my hand. Then he pulled me up and said, “Come on, we have to get going,” his voice was very quiet. Eventually I got up and followed him. As we passed Andrew, who had been holding the door all that time, he ran over to Michael and started pushing him, begging him to get up. Michael groaned a little, then started twitching, and Andrew dragged him up and proceeded to go to the first door we entered through. Kai shut the door and we were in darkness.
“Wha-” I began, but Kai put his free hand over my mouth.
“Don’t talk too much,” he whispered as he continued to guide me through a long hallway. Eventually, we made it to a dark room with a single lightbulb hanging from the ceiling. Under it, a small cherry wood dinner table was illuminated by the soft yellow light. Sitting there was The Instructor herself. Her pale, bony hands untangled themselves as she gestured toward two seats on the opposite sides of the table. Her black, long-sleeved dress that went just past her ankles seemed to make her pale blue eyes glow. Her silver hair, done neatly in a bun, was glowing as well.
“Hello, my children. How can I help you today?” she said, her rich voice ringing out in the dark room. We were silent. “Come on now, sit down, I won’t ask again,” she demanded. We did as she said and sat down, our hands still intertwined, but Kai seemed to be hiding them. “Now, tell me why you are here,” she said, with a sickeningly sweet smile plastered on her pale face.
“I would like to make Enestra The Queen of The Basement,” Kai said in a low tone. The Instructor’s smile faltered.
“Ah, you’ve moved on already, huh? I remember your old Queen. Bright young lady. Too bad she had such a fragile mind,” The Instructor giggled. I looked at Kai. His face was set in a blank stare, I looked back to the table only to find The Instructor staring at me with her pale eyes.
“You are new here,” she smiled. “How did you replace Kai’s old Queen so quickly?” I didn’t know what to say. Kai dropped my hand and slammed it on the table, sending a loud crack through the room.
“She is nothing to me. Nothing to anyone. She is just a weak little girl that doesn’t know what’s going on in this world. I just needed a pawn for my little game of chess. She seemed good enough, plus The Basement kids started having doubts, I needed to put them to rest. So if you think this child is worth anything, you’re wrong.” I stared in shock at him. The Instructor started laughing uncontrollably.
“That’s my boy. Very well, she can be your Queen, or shall I say pawn?” She began to giggle again. “Never mind that. You are released.” At that, the lights turned off and I was left in darkness. I stood up and started walking. I couldn’t comprehend what happened. I found my way to the door and opened it up to the little metal room where Kai had beat up Michael.
If you think this child is worth anything, you’re wrong. That phrase was ringing in my head.
I kept walking, head down when I bumped into something. It was Andrew. He looked startled at first and looked around, most likely for Kai. Then he just whispered, “He didn’t mean it, it was a show for The Instructor so she wouldn’t get upset.” I looked up, but he had already begun to open the door leading to the hallway. I had hoped it was true with all my heart as I walked down the stairs leading to The Basement. Andrew unlocked the door to the Basement.
I stepped in, and walked to my room. I laid down and heard Kai say he was sorry. I smiled and said it was okay. Then I heard crying and he said, “No, I’m really sorry.” I looked into the darkness at the other end of the room.
“It’s alright, just go to bed,” I said. I didn’t want to fall asleep to the sound of Kai crying.
March 10, 2002
When I got out of bed today, Kai was stuffing things into little black bags. I got out of bed and he looked at me.
“I packed all of your things, we are leaving tonight,” he said. I looked at him with disbelief.
“Where?” I inquired. “Why?”
He began zipping the bags as he replied, “We are getting out of The Ash House. I don’t care where we go, as long as it’s not here. As for the why, we are leaving before The Shadows start to feed off of your mind.” I swallowed.
“What? The Shadows will feed on my mind?” He gave a deep sigh. And walked over to me.
“You are a Queen now, therefore you will carry the weight of the Basement on your shoulders, it will feed off of your mind. If we leave, then we can still save your sanity,” he said. He walked back to the bed and tossed the black duffel to me and said, “We leave tonight, but first we need to make a stop.”
“What about Alison and Sera?” I asked, thinking of the brown-eyed, blonde-haired girls that were always so kind. “We can’t just leave them!” I whined, internally scolding myself for sounding like such a baby. Kai sighed and rubbed his temple, then replied.
“Do you know how much I do for you? Fine. They can come, but if they die, it’s not on me.” I got chills when he said that. “Anyway, let’s go, I wanna get this over with.” He sighed. We began to walk out of our room towards the hallway with the stairs. We got to the opening and peeked out, remembering what Kai told me about the humanoid figures. “We should be good now,” Kai said. We began to walk into the hallway when I bumped into something. I looked up and screamed the loudest scream I’ve ever heard. When I looked up to see what I bumped into I saw a human that was at least 7 to 8’8”. It had no hair and looked like it had one of those bodysuits on. The things face was what got me, though. Its mouth was curled up in a wide, almost comical grin. The edges of its mouth reached all the way past its nose, which looked like Voldemort’s, and up to its eyes which were simple white circles.
“Your time is up! Your time is up!” It shrieked in a shrill, screeching voice as it reached for me and Kai’s necks. Kai grabbed my arm and pulled me past the creature, I was screaming hysterically all the way. I couldn’t help myself, so as we were flying up the stairs I looked back one last time to see the creature running at us on his hands and feet in a backbend position, with his neck twisted so that his face was above his chest, staring straight at us. Right before we turned at the top of the stairs, the thing stopped and screeched in that shrill voice, “Your time is up! Your time is up!” Right as I turned my head Kai slammed the door shut.
“What was that?” I asked.
“The Guardian,” he huffed, gasping for air. He bent down and put his hands on his knees. “Let’s go, we have to hurry up,” He then grabbed my hand and started up the stairs.
Eventually, we made it to this ladder that led up to a small door in the ceiling.
“You go up first,” he said, no longer out of breath. I climbed up and pushed through the small square. It flew up and landed on a green-carpeted floor.
“Hello, who might you be?” asked a boy in a voice so soft it was like he was singing. I climbed up and twirled around to face a young blonde-haired boy with green eyes.
“I-I’m Enestra,” I stammered, shocked that there was anyone here. There was a golden light shining through a circular window about eight feet of the ground, setting the room ablaze. I moved aside as Kai slipped through the door.
“Hello, Kai,” said the boy, his golden hair shining along with the room, and his eyes shining like emeralds. “It’s been so long, how are you? Is this the girl I’ve heard so much about?” he asked, rising from the wooden chair in which he was seated.
“Hello, Tamaki, I’m doing fine, and yes, this is the girl,” he spoke to the boy, Tamaki, as if they were old friends, though Tamaki seemed to be over 17.
“So the time has come, huh?” Tamaki laughed, then sighed. Sorrow seemed to fill his eyes. “It’s been so long. I miss the sky. Maybe you can see it for me, like we used to. Do you remember, when we were kids and would play in the woods with Rinkai? That was so much fun. I wish we could go back, but because of me, we can’t. One stupid mistake and I ruined our lives forever.” He began to laugh sadly. “And all because I wanted to get some flowers for a stupid game,” he began to cry, his green eyes shining. I looked at Kai, wondering who Tamaki was to him.
“It wasn’t your fault, Tamaki. I was the one who suggested going to the old creek knowing mother told us not to,” Kai’s eyes looked like dark galaxies, with billions of stars and planets sparkling in them, the light making them even more mesmerizing.
Then I processed what Kai was saying, “You are brothers, aren’t you?” I said. Tamaki looked at me and nodded. “When were you guys taken?” I asked. Tamaki seemed to be thinking for a minute.
“I believe it’s been seven years or so. We were playing a game where we ruled the world together, then I suggested making flower crowns for the game, so we left our backyard and went to a creek nearby. When we got there a large man came out and grabbed us. He knocked us out and next thing we knew we were here.”
He said the last part with a bitter voice. Then something occurred to me.
“You don’t mean Turkey Creek, do you?” Kai and Tamaki looked at me in surprise.
“You know it?” asked Kai.
“Yea, that’s the last place I remember after ending up here. I was swimming alone in a creek when something hit my head,” Kai stared at me. Then Tamaki began laughing again.
“I guess that’s where they got their reservoir of kids!” I don’t know why, but that made me laugh too, then Kai started laughing. After around five minutes we finally stopped.
“You guys ought to get going now,” said Tamaki.
“You’re not going with us?” I asked, confused. Tamaki shook his head and smiled sadly, then took one more step, revealing chains around his neck, legs and arms.
“I’m stuck here. Made one too many mistakes,” he said. Then he held his arms out to Kai. “I’ll miss you, Kai. I won’t forget you, remember that,” Kai walked over to him and gave him a long hug, then Tamaki hugged me, whispering in my ear, “Don’t let him go, he’s more broken than he lets on. Please, be the glue that welds him back together, into something greater.” He pulled away, hands still on my shoulders. “Okay, Enestra?” I smiled, trying not to cry.
My voice cracked as I whispered, “Okay, Tamaki.”
He smiled then said, “Go on now, the world is waiting.” Kai smiled once more at Tamaki and then left.
When we got to The Basement, Alice and Sera were waiting for us.
“About time!” Sera giggled. Alice then showed us some matches and flashlights she had somehow acquired.
“How did they know to come?” I asked Kai as we began walking.
Kai smiled and said, “I have my ways.” Then he grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear, “To get out of here we have to use The Well. Can you do it?” I nodded.
When we got to The Well we stood there and stared at the small door for a bit. Kai volunteered to go in first, then Alison second, Sera third, and I would go last. Kai took a flashlight from Alison before he crawled in, and Alison handed one to me and Sera before she herself crawled in. I helped Sera crawl in and then I myself crawled into The Well. It must have dropped by at least 20 degrees right off the bat. I started to shake when Kai crawled over and patted me on the shoulder.
“You okay?” he asked. I nodded, and we began to crawl through The Well. The ground was made of soft dirt that was ice-cold. After a long time, Kai told us to stop and we stood up. “Careful, this is where it gets tricky,” he whispered. A large circle illuminated a small room. It was a lone wall, nothing around it. The circle had weird flames on it that seemed to burn like actual coal. Then it spoke, but only in a simple poem:
“Hello, my children of the dark,
I come to warn you to keep your mind sharp,
For what lay ahead has more bite than bark,
And will take what you know and tear it apart.
Now for your first trial, you must have a steady mind,
It takes but a drop of ruby to find,
The key that will finally break your bind,
But careful in doing so you don’t break your mind.
Now don’t look so scared, your trial awaits,
That leads to the end of the chain you must break,
In order to find freedom from this house you so hate,
Now go, my children, before it’s too late!”
As the voice finished, the light from the circle abruptly changed to a scarlet red and, to my horror, The Guardian walked out in its demonic backbend position. It shrieked and started to run at us and everyone was screaming as Kai darted forward and began to bash the creatures head in with his flashlight. Once the creature stopped moving, Kai backed away, covered in scarlet blood, resembling the color of the light.
Kai looked at us and said, “There are hidden messages in The Oracle’s words, be ready for anything.” Then he proceeded to scrape the bloody end of the flashlight on the circle, and the light returned to normal as The Oracle said:
“You finished the first trial thanks to Kai,
But two more to go until you can fly,
Away from this nightmare, so you can’t yet die,
Come on now, why so shy?
Talking to your friends is the key,
If you hope to escape and succeed,
In finding a new home where you can be,
Anything that you can dream.
But a warning to heed, my little friends,
One you should consider, as to not meet your end,
This next trial will make your mind twist and bend,
And once it is gone, no more help will I lend.”
Once she finished, the bright circle opened up and led to another room, this one with a green triangle on a lone wall. The green hue gave us an eerie feeling. The triangle began to glow brighter as The Oracle whispered, “Remember what I said, or off with your head.”
Right as her sentence ended, images began to flash through my head, memories that were not mine. Memories of war, death, disease, famine, sadness, and torture. I remember hearing screaming in the distance. Then I realized it was me. When the images finally stopped, everyone was on their knees. Everyone except Sera, who was laying on the ground muttering to herself. Alison ran over to her and Kai ran over to me as he covered my eyes. Then I heard an awful scream, and I took Kai’s hands off my eyes to see Sera clawing at a bloody mass that used to be her face. Her hands suddenly dropped, and she stopped moving. Black hands began emerging from the ground and grabbing at Sera’s body, pulling her into the ground. Kai and I ran over to Alison and pulled her away and through the green triangle as she screamed and kicked, trying futility to return to her sister who was now completely underground. When we got to the next room, the triangle door slid shut, preventing us from turning back. This room had a regular oak door, with a gold hue coming from it. The Oracle again began to speak:
“You lost one along the way,
For her spirit, be sure to pray,
A riddle you must solve to pass this gate,
One final game for your mind to play.
Tell me: Who is the god of your dark and dusk,
Who gives you feelings like hate and lust,
Who is the one that you learn to trust,
And who is the one that makes your heart rust?”
I looked at Kai, and he looked at me.
“Is it The Instructor?” he asked.
“No, my child, you’ve guessed wrong, two more tries till your lives are gone,” The Oracle said, her voice like nails on a chalkboard.
Then Alison blurted out, “It’s Sera! It has to be Sera!”
“Wrong again, I’m sad to say, but you have one more try and you can leave alive today.” The Oracle’s voice rang out in the small room.
Kai whirled around and screamed, “You idiot! We only have one more guess now! Why in the world would you waste it on that?”
Alison began to sob and I looked at Kai and yelled, “Don’t say that! She just lost her sister! She was like a daughter to her!”
Then he shot back, “Yeah, well I lost my brother! He was like a father to me too, you don’t see me screaming out his name!” I stopped.
“Parents,” I whispered. Then I looked at the door and shouted, “Parents! The answer to your riddle is parents!”
The Oracle replied:
“Your answer correct, my dear,
You may leave behind this house along with fear,
But don’t forget from where you came,
For if you do, it’d be a shame.”
The door opened, and Kai and I walked out of the door in disbelief. It was a starry night, cold, crisp air flooded my lungs, left over from the long winter.
“Wait, “ I said, “where is Alison?” Kai and I turned around to see Alison light a match and dropped it. The door burst into flames as I screamed. The door then caved, trapping Alison in there, along with Tamaki, Andrew, Michael, and all of the children in The Ash House. As I cried, we watched the house burn. Sirens wailed in the distance as light began to pierce the cool morning, bringing a new day, a new life, and new hope with it. I’ll never forget that sunset, because that was the day I was set free.
Credit: Elaine Carthy
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