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The World Beyond
The World Beyond
The old, beaten-down Chevy came to an abrupt halt in front of the old, weeded mansion. Crystal regretfully stared out through the window at the gray, neglected house. Why did you have to leave us, Dad? I miss you so much. I love you, Crystal thought, as tears ran down her face. She wiped them away quickly, hoping that no one saw her crying. On the other hand, her brother Max had been so full of joy that he could not stay in his seat during the car ride.
“Well, here it is. Let’s go inside with our suitcases and boxes. Come on!” Mrs. Waters said with an excited look on her face. Crystal glared at her mother with hatred. Mrs. Waters pretended she hadn’t seen her daughter’s grimace.
“Whatever. I’m going inside,” said Crystal, her hard expression still planted on her mother. Max followed his rebellious sixteen-year-old sister. As soon as the siblings reached the interior of the house, Max decided to break the uncomfortable silence.
“Tag, you’re it!” Max shouted, as he slapped Crystal’s arm. He sprinted away with the pocket dictionary that he grabbed out of her bag.
“Give it back, Max! I’m going to get you!” she barked.
“Yeah, right!” Max yelled back.
Crystal made her way through various rooms with nothing but emptiness and dreary, peeled up paint on the walls. She finally caught up with her brother and pushed him into a vacant area of the house with vibrant hues of yellow projecting from it. Inside was a sculpture of a woman standing on a pedestal with a clear complexion. Max stepped closer into the room cautiously, and behind him Crystal followed. As he walked past the sculpture, he knocked into it, tilting the woman’s head to the right.
“Way to go, Max! We weren’t even in this place for an hour and you already broke something,” Crystal said sarcastically, as she rolled her eyes.
“I didn’t mean to! You’re the one who pushed me into it!” Max bawled.
As if on cue, the walls began to give way, exhaling a creaking sound. A small passageway suited for a dwarf materialized next to the statue.
“Hey, I didn’t see that door before,” Crystal asked, charmed by the enticing entrance.
It was ornately carved with smooth scrolls aligning the edge. Crystal could hear her mother come in. She suggested having pizza for dinner and Max was out of the room, quicker than a cheetah. However, Crystal was so intrigued by this enchanting door that she found herself already crawling through it. This isn’t so comfy. Either I am getting bigger or this tunnel is extremely tiny, she thought, as she squeezed herself through the tight entrance. When she was completely inside, Crystal left the door open a crack, just in case something happened unexpectedly.
Crystal made her way through the door that extended into a tremendously long tunnel. Dried up paint peeled off of the narrow walls and she kept bumping her head into the ceiling. UGH! This is so gross! I can’t believe no one has ever noticed this door, she thought. By the time she got to the end of the tunnel, another door approximately the same size as the first one blocked her path. When she reached out to turn the knob of the door, a shrill noise rang in her ears.
“Who dares ta pull on me? Hasn’t yer mother taught ye some manners, young lady? Never, ever tug on a door!”
Crystal’s eyes widened as the lifeless passageway suddenly sprang into action. I think this house is starting to get to me.
“Jeez! Relax, will you? Wait- why am I even talking to a door? Doors can’t speak,” Crystal argued.
“But of course we can! I used to be a dwarf, ye see… Oh, ne’er mind. Pleased to make yer acquaintance. I am Doris. Who are ye? Wait, I know. Yer some kind of giant, isn’t that right?” the door asked expectantly.
“Not exactly. My name is Crystal Waters and I live in that house,” Crystal said, pointing accusingly to the other end of the tunnel she had squeezed through.
“What is this kind of way you speak?” said Doris.
“It’s called English. You and I speak it.”
Doris stared thoughtfully at Crystal’s glossy, brunette hair as it cascaded down her back and then looked at her sparkly, green eyes. Should I tell her what he did te me? Why did I let him defeat me? she thought. Her teardrops warped her frame as she thought about the creature that cast a spell on her.
“So what’s it going to be? Can I pass through?” whispered Crystal.
I could use a little time away from my pesky brother and overprotective mother, she thought.
Doris was hesitant to respond. She finally chose to let her through under one condition.
“You cannot ever repeat the name ‘Hurclitis’ twice,” Doris replied. Crystal considered this a joke and burst out laughing.
“That is the most ridiculous name I have ever heard!” Crystal snorted. When Doris gave Crystal a brutal look, the teenager immediately realized the gravity of the situation. She cleared her throat and mumbled, “Sorry, I didn’t intend to offend you. Now, may I pass through?”
Finally, Doris unlocked herself and growled, “Alright, but if you say his name-”
“Yeah, yeah. I know- he’ll come and get me!” Crystal said sardonically.
As Doris opened, Crystal’s attention diverted to the world beyond the small doorway. Light filled the land and almost blinded Crystal. It’s-It’s…unbelievable, she said to herself as her eyes drifted from different directions of the landscape. The magnificent, golden gates were engraved in a neat script that read “Dwarfopolis”. The immense, crimson sky spread over the ground as everlasting, pure water poured out of the blowhole of a carved, dolphin-shaped fountain.
Crystal wandered aimlessly around the elegant bushes of marigolds, roses, lilies, and daisies. As she sauntered deeper into the forest, tall, gangly trees arched together closely, blocking the sunlight, and soon, the sky was no longer a welcoming hue.
What’s going on? This doesn’t feel right. Should I make a quick run for it?
A deafening roar froze Crystal’s thoughts and she cautiously turned around. Behind her, on two long legs stood a twenty-foot creature with soulless, merciless eyes. Huge blemishes covered every visible part of his body and a sapphire cloak with crescent moons wrapped around him. Thick, extensive tentacles dangled menacingly from his head. In his possession was an enormous, wooden bat. Crystal, you will be alright. Don’t worry; when I count to three, I will be at the dinner table with Mom and Max, she thought to herself.1............2......3.
When she opened her eyes, an angry, vicious giant was awaiting her. She took a deep breath and dashed deeper into the forest.
“Who dares to enter the great Hurclitis’ territory?” the creature shouted as he took heavy, awkward steps towards Crystal.
Oh no! This can’t be happening. I’m too young to die! Crystal thought as she looked for something to help her escape. She passed stubby creatures with long, white beards solemnly collecting heavy supplies. They didn’t seem to even notice her. The giant’s pounding feet were advancing on Crystal, and something slimy grasped her, lifting her up into the air.
“AHHH!! Somebody, help me!!”
The giant’s tentacle tightened around Crystal and squeezed her hard. She was not going to let this huge, burly monster end her life-not now and not ever. Using all the strength she had, Crystal slid her arm out of the giant’s reach. Somehow, her hand slipped into her jeans pocket and felt something. What is this? I don’t remember putting this in here. Crystal pulled out the jawbreaker candy and threw it into the giant’s large mouth.
“Take that, you nasty octopus!” Crystal shouted.
The giant couldn’t spit it out; it was stuck in his suction-cupped mouth and he had to swallow it. Struggling to do this, his tight grip softened and Crystal quickly climbed down and once she got to the ground, she ran as fast as she could. She searched for a safe place to hide and soon came across a hut with a thatched roof. A camp fire’s dancing flames welcomed her as she approached.
Crystal knocked on the front door and waited for a few seconds, but there was no answer.
In a shaky voice, she called out, “Is anyone here?”
A thumping sound grew louder as it got closer. She turned around to find small figures moving out of the darkness.
“Loopy, I told ye not ter do tat!” a high-pitched voice with an Irish brogue called out.
A small shadow revealed a dwarf-sized figure. He scuttled along with the other dwarf he was scolding. As they moved towards the hut, they stopped short and were surprised by Crystal’s presence. Why are they looking at me like that? I’m not a threat, am I? she thought. The other dwarf raised his eyebrow and circled around Crystal, eyeing her posture and features.
“And who might ye be? A human, perhaps?” asked the dwarf.
“Yes, I am. My name is Crystal.”
“Very well. Do ye work fer ‘im’?” he whispered, inching closer.
Crystal told them about her encounter with Hurclitis. Even Loopy was watching Crystal with suspicion. After she denied working for Hurclitis, they heartily greeted her into Dwarfopolis. I just want to go home. Now they’re offering me tea?
“How could he do such a thing? That’s horrible!” Crystal said later, sipping the tea that she at first took reluctantly. She tried to imagine the beastly creature committing heinous acts and turning innocent dwarfs into doors, servants, and what not. I kind of know how that feels- to be let down by the ones you used to trust. I feel bad for those poor dwarves.
“Ye can’t jus’ decide ta kill ‘im. It’s impossible, I tell ye! Other dwarfs o’ the land have tried and never succeeded. Even Juntice o’er here failed. He’ll jus’ make ye one of his prisners!” Loopy shouted after hearing out Crystal’s plan.
It was getting darker outside and the sky’s luminescent glow faded. The two dwarves insisted upon Crystal staying in their hut, for Hurclitis had probably sent out an army of evil pixies to seize her. A cloud of fear hovered over her and she began to miss her mother and Max.
Am I ever going to get home? Mom, where are you when I need you the most? Teardrops glittered in Crystal’s eyes as she sobbed herself to sleep.
“Rise and shine!” Loopy shouted as he set a wooden tray of slimy yellow gook in a bowl. Crystal’s eyes squinted open and she stubbornly groaned. She sat up and a look of terror struck her face as she looked at the “breakfast” tray on her lap.
“Um, what is that?” she asked.
“Tey’re scrambled eggs. Te ones cooked with dragon saliva are just delicious,” Loopy replied, as he shoveled a spoonful of it into her mouth. Crystal grabbed a napkin and spit out the eggs. She didn’t want to insult him and said, “I’m not so hungry.”
“I have spent the most horrible time of my life in this stupid land with that stupid Hurclitis and all I want is to see my family. Why can’t everything be the way it was?” Crystal whined.
“Don’t say his name again! He’ll get stronger and when ye do it once more, he will hear your voice and know where ye are. He’ll kill ye if ye cross his path,” Juntice warned, ignoring her complaint.
“Please don’t make me do this. I’m not as strong as you think,” Crystal begged.
“We need yer help. Ye are the bravest person we have met since the taking of our sweet home land. We saw ye wandering in the forest and ye are much smarter than ye think.”
Why me? Please, dear God. Get me home!
“Fine, but only if you help me get back to my mother and brother.”
The three of them organized a plan to get into Hurclitis’ castle. An imposing brick tower loomed over the land. Loopy and Juntice pretended that they captured Crystal and were going to hand her over to Hurclitis when they reached the three-headed dragon guard at the gates. The dragon’s blood red eyes were locked on Crystal, and he was hesitant to let her in.
“You look very familiar to me. Perhaps you are the two dwarves who were defeated in the revolt against Hurclitis many years ago? I recall their names were Loopy and Juntice,” the dragon said as his piercing eyes accusingly glared at the dwarves. His leathery scales were geometrically aligned all over its body and soon revealed fire holes.
I don’t think he believes us. Crystal thought uneasily as she quietly panicked.
“Run over there!” she shouted and pointed to a gray stone door. Startled, the two dwarves dashed through the threshold and held it open for her as she made it just in time before the dragon’s fire burned her.
“Phew! That was way too close,” Crystal said, panting.
The group crept inside towards an endless hallway with cracked paint on the walls. Crystal snuck behind the guard, knocked him unconscious, and took his keys. Heavy, iron bars caged in the poor dwarfs, as they lusted for freedom. She speedily unlocked the bars confining the dwarves. Juntice and Loopy followed Crystal and the others out of the chamber.
“How can we ever repay ye fer yer kindness and generosity?” one of the prisoners asked.
“Can you forge weapons for me and my friends? We want to defeat Hurclitis and bring peace to Dwarfopolis,” Crystal responded. All of a sudden, a loud thump shook everything in the room. Oh no! Crystal said the giant’s name twice. Sweat rolled down her forehead and soaked her palms. She had to do something quick, before it was too late. Crystal rushed over to a corner of the room that was piled with metal scraps. Before she could duck and hide behind them, a slimy, suction-cupped tentacle clutched her body. Some of the dwarfs hid and some escaped through the dirty windows.
“Loopy, Juntice! Quick, throw me a spear!” Crystal exclaimed.
The two dwarves tensely searched for a pointy weapon. There were no spears or arrows in sight. Hurclitis’ grasp was gaining in strength and Crystal withered into unconsciousness.
“How dare you steal my dwarves, you nasty little girl!” Hurclitis hollered. A shiny, translucent object caught Crystal’s eye. Neither Loopy nor Juntice noticed it and were still skimming through huge piles of dismembered metals.
Mustering all of her might, she choked out, “Look! There’s a spear over at that corner. It’s covered by those two copper hooks.”
Hurclitis reached his tentacle towards Loopy and now Juntice was left. He ducked and slid near the spear, outstretching his stubby arm. Juntice grabbed the spear and threw it to Crystal, who had one hand free.
YES! Thank goodness, I caught it, Crystal thought as she breathed a sigh of relief. As soon as she caught the spear, Juntice yelled, “Strike his heart! Strike his heart!” She aimed the weapon at Hurclitis’ heart. Before Crystal could reach him, Hurclitis wrapped one of his tentacles around the spear and threw it at the pile of metals. His mouth stretched into an evil grin and he squeezed harder on Crystal, cutting off her circulation. Her face was as red as a tomato and her long, wavy hair was dangling from her upside down position.
I can’t do this! He’ll kill me, anyway. Dad, I need you! I love you and I can’t let you down, Crystal thought, as she shut her eyes. Tears blurred her vision. Then, Crystal felt herself drop to the floor. Her eyes slowly fluttered open and looked over to find Juntice distracting Hurclitis by throwing the metals at him. Her forehead was gushing with blood. She tore her shirt tied the cloth around the wound. Crystal quickly slid over to the spear and ran towards Hurclitis. She pounced onto the giant and climbed up to face him from behind.
Crystal aimed the weapon at his heart and sliced through his slimy flesh. Green liquid splattered in all directions and hung off the metal prison bars. Shocked, the giant released Crystal and Loopy and dropped to the ground.
After a few moments of silence, Crystal coughed and waved at the mucky air. Later that day, the freed dwarves celebrated and Juntice and Loopy treated her wounds.
“We’ll miss ye very much. We’ve never had a kind friend tat has gone out of their way ta help us get our freedom back from tat horrible creature,” Juntice said, as he choked back sobs.
“Good luck and whenever ye need anyting, come visit us,” Loopy added.
They waved goodbye and Crystal made her way back through the door. Standing proudly waiting to escort Crystal back to her new home in Saratoga, New York, was Doris, a dwarf and no longer a door. Doris explained that after Hurclitis had been killed, his curse died with him and she was turned back to herself, a fellow citizen of the land. Her gentle blue eyes twinkled and her brown hair swayed softly in the light breeze, and she looked into Crystal’s eyes for the last time. They shared tearful goodbyes and Crystal crawled through the tunnel back home.
She got out through the passageway and cheerily shouted, “Mom, Max? Where’s that pizza you ordered? I’m starving!”