The Journey Forthcoming

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It is spring. Cecilia has always admired springtime. The flowers were beautiful and she didn't like anything better than to sit in the garden and read whenever the flowers had sprouted. She would tend to them when they were broken or in need of some weeding. Not to mention the rain. Not the rain that left icky mud to get stuck to her boot and make puddles to soak the bottom of her shoes walking to school. No, not that rain. What rain Cecilia admired was the rain that left everything bright in the morning, hydrating it so it stays fresh in the heat of the sun. The rain that lulled her to sleep at night. There were very few things that comforted Cecilia. She had no siblings to tell her how their day went or the horror stories of boys that might come from an older sister, nor the stories of making giant forts and playing fast-paced ball games that might come from a little brother. So, Cecilia was left to the comfort of the rain and the books on her nightstand becuase she wasn’t at all interested in adventures like the other kids she reads about in her books, she would much rather just read about them.


     Cecilia did enjoy her books dearly. The fantastical adventures the characters got to go through thrilled her every time! It was always exciting to her when she entered her small town library. The smell of books were overwhelming. The library was the place to go when Cecilia was in need of a new adventure to stimulate her senses. The beautiful sight of books! Sometimes it felt like she could get lost in them. Maybe sometimes she did. People do say books are a place for magic.


      Cecilia needed a place for magic in her life. With no siblings to aid her on missions through the backyard and garden, she was usually all alone. Cecilia dreamed of a mother that could take her shopping or even just to run errands. Sadly, Cecilia lost her mother when she was born. Her dad told her that her mother had died during childbirth. Nothing more, nothing less. Sometimes, Cecilia felt like it was her own fault she didn't have anyone. Sometimes, it was all her fault. Especially her dad being gone. He was always gone on work trips. Cecilia wonders if it is because of her. Because of the fact Cecilia took from him the one person who made him so happy. Her mother.


     Cecilia set her thoughts aside. She was, in fact, supposed to be gathering her adventure pack to go castle touring, the one part of her father’s job she was allowed to go with him for. Cecilia didn't like going on adventures like her father did, but she went with him on days she could even though she would much rather just stay at home and indulge herself in more books or garden work. She grabbed her favorite one, the brown leather box-shaped bag that had a small pouch in the front just the right size to fit her Finding Book. Cecilia always kept her Finding Book on hand at all times. Every time she saw a new little creature, she'd sketch it and make notes. Usually she’d even create false additions of the creature and give them magic powers or an extra set of wings, be able to talk, or sometimes even to fly. Of course these creatures couldn't do any of those things in real life, but Cecilia liked to imagine they were all very real and that she would be able to live in a world with all of them. Cecilia always felt closer to her creatures when they had magical abilities. It made them friendlier in her opinion. Her most favorite creature of all was a hedgehog she called a Hugglier. It was cute little creature, really. She thought about it as she put a flashlight straight into the special pockets designed into the bag just for it. He had soft, brown fur, but as a defensive approach, there was the illusion of spiky tendrils on its fur, unlike the very real softness of the creature’s real fur. To make it even cuter, she gave him the tail of a bulldog, a nice, short, stubby, sometimes a little curly, tail. How adorable!


     Then, she threw into the bag a poncho. Even though the touring was going to be inside the castle, you could never be too prepared. She zippered the bag closed and grabbed her spring coat. Walking out of her bedroom and down the stairs, she dreaded yet another adventure. So far this week, they had been to eight castles. Eight castles in three days! None of them were exciting yet. She hadn't even found many creatures. Only four creatures came to her during those tours. On days when she was lucky, she could create up to four creatures a day. This was definitely a dark time for Cecilia’s findings, but somehow she felt closer to them than ever lately, like they were only an arm length away from her.


     When she got downstairs, she pondered what food she should throw in her pack. In the house, Cecilia and her dad always kept dry food that would last because they didn't know how long they were going to stay. There was never enough food to pack into all the cabinets and all of Cecilia’s regular stuff like clothes could all fit into one suitcase. With always being on the move, you didn't need much. It felt normal for Cecilia to live with limited items. She decided to grab a couple granola bars and some beef jerky. She decided she should throw in a couple water bottles too. She didn't know how long they were going to be gone today.


    “Cecilia!” her dad called excitedly, “Jump in the Jeep!” This was sort of their language. Unlike most parents telling their kids it was time to leave, “jump in the Jeep” was their own cue it was time to go. Cecilia liked it. It was like a secret language that only they knew. Even though it really wasn’t complex at all and anyone could figure it out, it still felt special to her because she felt as if she didn't have much of a relationship with her father. She handed her bag to her dad to throw in the back of the Jeep  as he grabbed her door to open it for her. This always made her feel like a princess.


.     .     .


     The car ride over to the castle was fast. She jumped out of the Jeep and grabbed her bag out of the back seat. Uh oh, Cecilia thought to herself. Her Finding Book wasn't in its pouch. It must've fallen out! What am I going to do now? Frantically, she searched and searched. Her dad was already in the castle setting up his camera. He could not have helped her anyways. She panicked. All she truly cared about was her drawings and ideas. She abandoned her search and headed into the castle entrance way. Walking towards her dad glumly, she saw her dad holding her Findings Book! Relief and anger flooded through her. Although she wouldn't ever yell at her dad, she certainly felt like it at that moment. It was her book! She had EVERYTHING in that book! She snatched the book back from her dad and started writing once she had found a window ledge to sit on.

April 3


     I almost thought I lost this book forever. Imagine how terrible that would be! I feel like I need to be writing more. In fact, I haven't touched my book in three days! I think that qualifies as abandonment…!
     Well, here we are again. Touring old smelly buildings that are infested with rodents. Even though I wouldn't ever admit it to my dad because he loves touring so much, I hate it. I hate the traveling. I hate the not being able to stay in one place long enough for a bathroom break. Constantly, we are always moving around. All I have for friends are my creatures that exist only in a book.


     Sometimes I wish the world was different. More made up. Then at least she’d have some company. Not this realistic stuff like moving and schoolwork and money and jobs. None of that! It seems like that is all what matters, never any fun. I wish I could hang around my creatures in sparkling mint frosted hills with gummy trees. What a waste for mint to be a small plant!

     Cecilia got up and started wandering around. She never feared anything she’d find in the castle. At times, there would be rodents as large as bunnies. There was definitely a lot of snakes, too. There were lots of snakes! The castles were usually damp and stone and cold, so she guessed it made a perfect home for snakes. Especially since the supply of rodents to snack on was endless. Luckily, she didn't really mind snakes. In fact, she did a project on snakes for one of the research projects she had done for homeschooling. She even had a couple different snake creatures. For example, there is the creature named Serpan. The Serpan was a snakelike creature made entirely out of diamond. With fangs to cure any curse or illness, the Serpan was magical. It definitely would make for a good soldier. Although she hoped none of her creatures would have to endure any war.


     Suddenly, she heard a scuttling noise. What was that? She thought to herself. She hoped it was a new creature. Cecilia absolutely loved seeing new animals. Quickly, she caught a glimpse of a brown furball shape round a corner. Did it see me? Cecilia sat puzzled about why a creature would be moving so fast without any threat. She decided she was going to follow the creature so she could get a better look at it. Maybe I can transform it into something magical! Transforming creatures is her favorite use of imagination. Maybe this castle would have more for Cecilia to find than she believes. Maybe this castle isn’t like the others.
.     .    .
     Cecilia had a feeling this castle was different. At first, she thought it was just like the other millions of castles they have toured. But she knew this was not true. She didn’t know how to explain it, but she could feel the difference, almost like the castle was alive. The castle seemed almost magical. Plus, she hadn’t seen any snakes yet. That had surprised her immensely.  Neither did she see any rats. She pondered this as she started packing up her lunch. It was time to leave for the day. Cecilia was sad she was going to have to leave the castle because she knew there was actually something in that castle for her, something special. She wouldn’t be able to explore the all grand rooms today, but she knew they would be back tomorrow. This castle was bigger than others they had gone to, so Cecilia’s dad wanted to make sure they got to explore every room.
     All she could think about on the car ride home and what clouded her thoughts later when she was laying in bed trying to sleep was the weird sensation the castle made her feel. She thought of the rooms she explored and the rooms she didn’t get to visit yet. She thought of how the different rooms had their own aura to them. The strongest sensation she felt was oddly near one of the many abandoned bedrooms. It was a plain chamber. It had a bare bedpost without a mattress and red velvet curtains for privacy hanging from the posts. The velvet was surely enchanting with swooping cocoons of fabric that you could probably get lost in. That sure was an interesting thought. Could you really get lost in curtains? She definitely wanted to check that room out again. After this thought, she fell into a deep sleep. It was a deep enough sleep that a small, brown, furball of a creature came into her room check on her without her even knowing
.      .     .
April 5
     I know I’m sick of all this castle touring, or at least I thought I was, but there is something strange hidden in that castle. I can feel it. It is something hidden that I need to find. Sometimes I wonder if the castle is beckoning me to find it. Maybe it is a surprise hidden just for me. Maybe only chosen people get to find it. Does my dad feel the same sensation in the castle?


     I know travelling is important to my dad, but I don’t think I’ll ever like it as much as he does. But I don’t think I could ever tell him that. Most people don't get to travel, but I think I would be perfectly happy without any more moving around. Maybe then I’d have a chance to make some friends.


     Cecilia instantly woke up, thoughts of the castle still clear in her head. She decided she’d write to try and calm the nerves in her body. Her dad always knew when something was bugging her, but she didn't want to try and explain it. She didn't know if she could. So, she decided she’d keep this to herself. Writing usually had the power to calm her down. It was like a fidget to other people. It let her express her worry onto the pages and leave it there once closed. She picked up her Findings Book and placed it back into the special pocket, although this time she made a latch out of string to make sure it wouldn’t fall out. Even after writing, there was that one weird thought she couldn’t shake. What was that creature running desperately away? A good thought, indeed. Little did she know this good thought would get her into so much more trouble than she could ever imagine, yet it could be considered a blessing becuase of the magical places it may take her.


     Downstairs, Cecilia could hear her dad making breakfast. Smells of fresh batter and bacon and a tid bit of something sweet floated up to her room along with the sounds off spatula hitting the griddle and bacon sizzling. Cecilia then realized that last night with all her concerns about what she might have saw at the castle beforehand, that she hadn’t taken the time to eat before she went to bed. Now she was nauseous with hunger. Cecilia jumped from her bed and grabbed her bag as she dashed out of the room. But then she stopped. She saw something that was just barely reached into her peripheral vision… but what could it be? It was a creature bigger than a rat, but smaller than a bunny. Coincidentally about the same size as yesterday's mystery creature. But Cecilia knew that couldn't be. However, she knew she definitely saw something. Quizzically, she continued down the steps into the kitchen just a little slower than before making sure to keep her eye out for anything else out of place.  


     “Good morning sleepyhead,” her dad said cheerfully as he flipped the last set of pancakes, “How’d you sleep? I noticed this house has more comfortable mattresses than the last house we rented. I was actually going to go wake you up in a minute once I got all the food on the table. I made pancakes and bacon with some fruit salad. Your favorite!”


    “Yeah, I slept fine. Thanks, dad,” Cecilia responded, not quite as heartfelt as her father had greeted her.
     “You seem troubled this morning. Everything good?” her father asked.


     Cecilia knew her dad would notice. She didn't know whether to be annoyed with him always getting in her business, or be grateful that he noticed or even cared. She didn't want to trouble him because she knew this castle was one of his big job opportunities and if he thought anything was troubling her too severely, he wouldn't be able to focus on the castle. So, she responded simply with a no that she hoped he would think sincere. She stuffed food in her mouth as quickly as possible to avoid more questions she knew were to come. Cecilia decided it would be the fastest way of getting back to the castle if she volunteered to grab the bags and help pack the cooler. She zipped around the room grabbing extra flashlights and water bottles, maybe some granola bars and beef jerky. Cecilia loved beef jerky.


     “Hey, dad, I got all the bags packed and in the car! Are you ready?” She called, butterflies fluttering up to her stomach, unsure of what she would discover today while she was in the castle.


     “Just grabbing my camera. I’ll be right out. The keys are on the counter if you want to go jump in the Jeep,” her dad responded nonchalantly, now completely unaware of how anxious Cecilia truly was.
     She grabbed the keys and listened to their obnoxious jangle while she dashed out to the car. She grabbed the door throwing it open, almost hitting the small Prius parked alongside them. She fumbled with the keys, pushing them into the slot and turning until she heard the engine come to life. Climbing over the center console to get to her seat, she accidentally kicked over the change bucket her dad kept. She quickly tried picking each and every small coin before her dad got into the car but the coins seemed almost slippery in her panicked attempt. She noticed a slip of paper came out with the coins too. But what could that be? She set it safely inside her front hoody pocket, planning to read it later. She barely got the last three coins in the bin before the driver’s door opened and her dad took his seat. She decided she wouldn't mention the paper, who knows if he’d want it back before she could read it. She couldn’t help herself, Cecilia was just one of those people who never got past being nosy.


.     .     .

 

     The ride over to the castle was agonizingly slow. Her mere nervousness almost made her want to puke, so the slow ride towards the castle didn’t make it pass any quicker. And then, suddenly here she was, walking into the mysterious castle, with nothing on her mind besides what that room could possibly hide. Then she spotted something larger than the day before peeking out of the shadows. Who could this possibly be? She thought to herself. Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse...


    “Hey, Robert!” The shadow called out.


   “Oh, hey Rock,” Cecilia’s dad responded, a little shocked himself. Cecilia swore he even jumped a little when Rock came barreling out. What kind of name is that anyway? Rock. Huh.


  “Cecilia, this is Rock, an old buddy of mine. He actually has done a couple of castles with me before too, but you would've been too little to remember him then.” Robert informed her.


     Cecilia took a hard look at this guy, Rock. He seemed a little out of place within the castle compare to them in sweatpants and hoodies. Rock didn’t like to be as settle, she guessed. He wore flared jeans with holes and a long sleeve rainbow-colored tie dyed shirt with a worn out brown leather cardigan. Or at least she thought it was a cardigan. It couldn't really be called a jacket, it came up to high and didn't have any buttons or a zipper to close the front flaps. Cecilia also noticed he had an odd way of talking. She wandered back over to where the two men were talking.


    “Isn’t this place so the choice, man!” Rock spoke enthusiastically, “Like these walls man, they are soooo rad! Do you see those carvings in the rock? They are like so like tubular dude! This castle sure has got the vibes!”


    “Yeah, they sure are,” Robert replied, a little shaken of Rock’s enthusiasm, “Old too. According to the records, the basement is over eight thousand years old. The rock down there was made to hold prisoners. Around a hundred years after the prison was built, creatures were stored there. My guess is pigs and hens, but the stories say differently, I guess. Supposedly, the groundskeeper of the small dungeon turned pen, was evil and mistreated the magical creatures in the pen. Magical as in animals not known of today, like special snakes and friendly hedgehogs which had some mutation to them I don’t remember…”


     Cecilia walked away, remembering the odd slip of paper she had found in the truck. She pulled it out of her pocket, and began unfolding it. She read it carefully, but couldn’t understand it. The small, worn out, piece of script read:
 
    Beware of Queen Chernobog,
              Visit Miss Musty at ? Gummy Worm Lane.

 

     Cecilia couldn't figure out what this meant. She couldn’t even tell if this place really existed or not.


     Cecilia perked her head up from dazing when she heard of the animals in the pen in this very spot she was standing over. The part about the hedgehog certainly interested her. That would explain what the brown furball I saw yesterday was! She, very obviously, decided to skip over the reasonable, realistic  thoughts, like how old the basement would be, how the creature could have possibly survived all those years after being abused by an evil groundskeeper, or the fact of having magical elements at all. Not one of these thoughts crossed her mind as she dashed off to the first floor, to the bedroom that sat across from the basement entrance. The bedroom that had clouded her very thoughts the day before, with its mysterious aura. Her feet pounded against the stone cold marble steps going down to the first floor. The echoes bounced across the walls, scaring away the rats nearby, and possibly the “magic” hedgehog.


     Cecilia stood as as still as a statue. She had reached the entrance. Not knowing what exactly to do, she slowly crept forward, feet shuffling toward the funny tail like figure poking out from under the bed, suspiciously close to the curtain she was going to inspect. Frightened she was going to scare the little creature that she suspected to be hiding under the bed, she started to softly hum under her breath. On her many accounts of meeting creatures, she had learned that the act of humming softly made the animals feel more secure near her, safer.


    “Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!” squealed the funny, spiky looking, brown, fluffy, creature.


    “Y-y-y-you can can talk?!?!?” Cecilia nearly squealed back, stuttering over her words nervously, as she stumbled backwards.


    “Are you going to hurt me? I really don’t want to die. Oh, oh, please don’t kill me! I have a family! I can’t die! I don’t want to die! And of course I can talk! As long as I don’t die. Can you not understand my language?  Please don’t kill me!” the odd creature retorted, as he held his head in his arms, backing away from Cecilia in short, quickened steps.


   “I would never harm a fly!” Cecilia continued, “but, sir, if I might ask, what is your name and how do you talk? Normally, creatures here don’t talk.”


   “Well, yes, that would explain the odd encounters with the snakes and rats with how they rudely don't respond besides in rutty squeaks, now would it not? Oh well, I have checked on the narselfluffs, everything seems swell. Okay, time for me to go now!” and off he rushed, through the curtain.


        Cecilia knew there was something up with that curtain! Usually, in her books, it was a rabbit hole or a wardrobe, or even the sink in the girls’ bathroom,  which the characters had never suspected would be a secret entrance. Well, Cecilia knew better! Well maybe not so much better, considering Cecilia twirled herself in the endless loops of velvet, chasing after the nameless creature. But then, oddly enough, she realized he wasn’t nameless at all! This creature was of her own making, her very own Hugglier! She needed to know where he was going. And what is this thing he calls a narselfluff?


    When Cecilia twirled back out of the curtains and then when was awakened by an avalanche of colors, she realized she wasn’t in the castle anymore.


    “Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore,” Cecilia whispered to herself, mouth gaped open. Cecilia wasn’t really in Kansas in the first place at all, and she didn’t have a dog named Toto, but Wizard of Oz was always her favorite book, she had even watched the movie. She loved the magic the author could capture in each element in the story, but Cecilia definitely thought it was worth the twirling in old musty velvet to experience it yourself. As she was admiring the rolling mint hills, the jelly waterfall, or the gummy bears singing and dancing by the pond, she spotted her Hugglier.    


     Instantly, she began chasing after the Hugglier, feeling as if he were her white rabbit like in Alice and Wonderland. She had never been able to feel close to the characters in the book because she never could get a firm grasp of what Alice must have felt like after finding herself in such a different world, but now she could understand it better than ever. In a way, Cecilia felt like she just got stuck in a book, only she knew this wasn’t a book at all. She loved the feeling of being stuck in a book this wonderful, but she knew this place was real. The Hugglier had darted into a cave, just across the way.


     “Helloooo!” Cecilia called after him, “I really don’t want to hurt you, I promise!”


     Suddenly, the Hugglier darted back out of the cave, running right at her! Unprepared, Cecilia stumbled backwards, hoping not to get rammed into. Even though she knew the creature wouldn’t do anything to her because he was much smaller than her, it really was quite frightful when something came running at you.
     “Shhhhhhhhh!” The Hugglier said, rushing up to her.


     “Why would we have to be quiet in a place so beautiful? Nothing would harm us here, right?” Cecilia questioned, unsure of what she would get as an answer.


    “Just follow me and listen carefully. My name is Mr. Hedgens. I guess you are now my problem, if you don’t want to get yourself caught, of course.” He responded as he started walking forward, Cecilia trailing after him.
    “Who would want to capture me? Have I done something wrong?” Cecilia wondered aloud.


     “Shhhhhh! This is serious business! Anyways, I said listen carefully. However, to answer your question, no you haven’t done anything wrong, but yes you will need to hide. The evil Queen will definitely not want any intruders.”


    “Evil Queen?” Cecilia squealed as she stopped dead in her tracks.


    “Have you learned nothing! Shh! Her name is Queen Chernobog. Truly evil, she is. Cruel, nasty and mean! If I was you, I wouldn't cross her. Now, we are going to walk in complete silence, and when I say silence this time I mean it! Some of the gummy bears are on her side, so hide behind me. We are going to the Hole, the Hole is…. well, you’ll see what it is. Now, complete silence!” Mr. Hedgens ordered.


     Cecilia followed in suite. She felt as if she could trust this creature, he was her creation after all. Silently, and she made sure she was silent out of fear of being caught by the evil witch Chernobog, she walked in wonder staring at all the magical things she had created in her dreams and notebook. Wait a second, she created this in her Findings Book! She remembered creating most of it now that she thought about it, and Chernobog was actually a queen from one of her nightmares when she was little. If Chernobog got transferred into her magical world from her nightmare, Cecilia didn't want to know what else. The sky was so peaceful, Cecilia set those thoughts aside. The sky wasn’t a bright blue like it was when she left, it was a cotton candy pink! Somehow, it made the sky look brighter than the plain blue sky she was used too. It added more color to the already colorful gummy bears surrounding gardens. Oh, the gardens! The gardens, full of vegetables and flowers, Cecilia caught herself wandering over to them.


     “No!” Mr. Hedgens yelled urgently, trying to whisper so he would not draw any attention.


     Cecilia, shocked, started backing away from the garden, unsure of the danger the garden holds.
     “If you go into that garden, you’ll be wanting to stay there forever. You see, that garden is enchanted. It is made to lull you in so when the Queen, who has absolutely no right to be queen, does her daily rounds, she’ll catch you there and you’ll be wishing you had just walked by that stupid garden. Come on now, right up through this door. Then, you’ll be in the Hole.”


     Cecilia, too shocked about the garden, didn't even realize she had followed Mr. Hedgens what seemed like  a mile from the garden to the Hole. She couldn't see what was supposedly the Hole. There was only a giant tree. A tree so giant, it was the size of two houses put together.


     “Oh, sorry about that, I forgot the door!” Mr. Chernobog apologized as he flicked his wrist, suddenly a door appeared.


     Cecilia followed Mr. Hedgens into the Hole, which Cecilia figured out that the Hole was a giant tree that held her magical creatures.


     “Here you will hide until we have figured out what to do with you.” Mr. Hedgens told her sternly, “Do not leave this room.” Then, he closed the door to the room he put Cecilia in, which was made completely of water and glass.


     Cecilia only had the clothes on her back and whatever she had packed into her adventure bag. Well, this sure is one heck of an adventure, Cecilia thought glumly. She started to wander around her room, although it was not that large. A water bed sat on one corner, with a small pool of water on the other. The floor, ceiling, and walls were all made of glass, but through them you could only see rushing blue water, which moved fast paced like the river back home. Cecilia started to get bored of being stuck in the room. Being in this room, made her miss her bedroom from at home. She grabbed her bag and wandered out of the room, uncertain of the steps she would have to take next in order to get out of here.


     She followed the path she was pretty sure she had followed coming into the Hole, but she wasn’t sure. She was consoled when she reached the dining hall, which you would travel through to get to the front door. However, any ounce of relief she had felt over seeing the dining hall doors vanished when she heard voices coming from the room. It wasn't even only a few voices, it sounded like a meeting of all the creatures. Cecilia placed her ear against the door, her heart pounding so fast it felt like a hammer hitting against the pit in her stomach. She could hear the creatures talking about her. They were debating whether to keep her, or send her directly to Queen Chernobog. Cecilia suddenly got very a bad case of goosebumps. She couldn’t imagine what would happen if she got sent to Queen Chernobog. She didn’t even want to try to imagine what would happen. She knew it would be too terrible to even think about.


      Cecilia raced through the hallways, trying to find a way out of the Hole before they decided to send her to the evil queen. She stumbled soon across a back door, which released her near the garden. This time, Cecilia took notice to steer clear of the evil patch of vegetables. Once she closed the door behind her, she realized she had no idea where she was going to go. Then she remembered the cave which had released her into this mess of a world in the first place. She decided she would leave this place for once and for all. It really wasn’t the paradise she had hoped for when she imagined living in a world with her creations.


     She reached into her pocket, expecting to find the compass she usually kept in her sweatshirt pocket, but instead found the slip of paper. The slip was her last tie to home, so she opened it. Then she remembered Queen Chernobog. How did her dad know about Queen Chernobog? If he did, why didn't he tell her? Was he trying to protect her from this awful world? She wondered about all the possibilities that could have happened if she had known as she walked into the damp cave. She put down her pack, and started looking for something to eat. The sky was darkening, and she figured the sky would be blacked out soon. She found some beef jerky and trail mix and ate them graciously. Then, she laid her head down on her pillow and fell asleep.


      When she awoke, she found Mr. Hedgens standing over her, tapping his foot irritatedly. Cecilia was speechless.


     “What were you thinking?” Mr. Hedgens roared, “Not to mention the Queen will definitely be alerted now! What consequences do you think we will all suffer now?”


     Cecilia looked at the word ‘we’. Then, she noticed that he had brought other of her creatures with him, including Serpans. She figured Mr. Hedgens would've had to have been very worried about her well being if he had brought Serpans. She also noticed there were others too, like her variation of small tracker dogs, a species named Thimbles, and Creastures, a crab and donkey mutation made for defensive situations.  Once everyone was reassured and informed of the current dangers from which they all ignored Mr. Hedgens useless worrying, the started to all gather together so they could journey back to the Hole. Cecilia followed the group becuase she felt safer with her creatures, but she definitely didn't want to go back to the Hole. Cecilia was ready to go home, and she stated this quite clearly.


     “Well, that is impossible!” Mr. Hedgens stated almost annoyed by her demand.


    “Why?” Cecilia wondered. Am I stuck here? She nervously thought as she clenched her fists till they turned as white as the bones hidden under her skin.


     “The curtains. They only open when Chernobog allows them too. Now that she knows you’re here, she isn't ever going to open them again until she has you.” Mr. Hedgens replied nonchalantly.


     Cecilia was aghast at the thought of being stuck here and as equally so at Mr. Hedgens calm attitude about it. She sat down, suddenly her legs were too weak to stand up. Her legs felt like rubber. She missed her dad, her home, and suddenly she even missed adventures with her dad. She didn’t want to face any of the problems that the Queen presents. She worried about what would happen next, not certain she could face it. Wobbling, she stood up and started following the group, mind blank. The pit in her stomach grew bigger, so big it felt like it was going to choke her.
.     .     .
 
   “There is a narselfluff in my kingdom?” Queen Chernobog yelled incredulously.


    “Yes, my my my Queen,” stuttered Ratikus, the head of the Chernobog’s rat army.


     “But that can’t be! Last time there was a narselfluff, Robert, remember him? I almost got overthrown! He sided with the creatures residing in the Hole and almost brought my kingdom to the ground.” Chernobog screeched, waving her arms frantically. The she began pacing around her castle trembling with anger. She immediately ordered for this faurdle narselfluff to be brought to her by the time the sunset reached the third day. Anyone faurdle enough to cross her would have to pay.


     “Oh, yes,” Chernobog continued, “if you don’t find the narselfluff, take the one that caused this mess. If my information is up to date, I believe it is the son of  Sir Karsel, the one who hid Robert, Mr. Hedgens.” The Queen smirked and laughed viciously. Oh they will pay! Chernobog thought.
.     .     .

     Cecilia was back in her room at the Hole, sobbing so deeply her whole body shook. What have I done? Cecilia couldn't even look at herself she was so ashamed. Cecilia rarely ever broke a rule, what was happening? The normal Cecilia wouldn't have ever had that burst of rebellion or bravery.  Mr. Hedgens walked in then, feeling terrible at how guilty he had made Cecilia feel.


     “I am going to talk with the gummy bears near the pond that are on our side, just to see what they might know. Who knows, maybe the Queen doesn't know after all.” Mr. Hedgens said, trying to reassure Cecilia. He walked over to embrace her, even though he was so tiny compared to her he could only hug her arm.


     Cecilia couldn't form the words to respond, even though she deeply felt she needed to apologize for the danger she has now put on all of them. She was so worried and upset about not being able to go home and the danger she was going to face from Queen Chernobog, she couldn't even notice the good things about this world, like how she created all this, there was a pool in her room, which was something she had always wanted, and the fact it was her favorite season, spring!  No, Cecilia didn't think of any of these good things that she had. In fact, all she wanted right now, was a good book. She craved the thought of having a book to get lost in, to hear someone else's problem instead of having to think about her own. Then, suddenly a book case appeared. It held Alice and Wonderland, Harry Potter, Narnia and more of her favorite books, it even held books that she hadn't read before. She got up and picked out a book with a red velvet casing. It front was labeled Cecilia’s Journey Forthcoming. She picked it up and began reading. It held all the problems and adventures she had been on in the past two days, from when she went through the curtain to when she found the bookcase. It was all there! Cecilia skipping ahead to see what would happen to her, but she couldn't. The book had stopped right up the that moment. Cecilia stared at the pages in wonder, heart pounding. She vowed right then and there that she would keep this book with her at all times, that way she would never forget this experience once she found a way out.


     Cecilia raced out of her room towards the great hall, hoping to find Mr. Hedgens. Instead, when she excitedly entered the room, she had found the mirrors smashed, candles blown out, chairs tipped over or snapped in two, and all that was left was a note on the table, crisply folded. On it, it read:


      Narselfluff, if you would like your precious Mr. Hedgens back, even though I find him quite faurdle and incompetent, you will turn yourself over to my or my soldiers, the giant rats. Good luck!


P.S.
     Don't try saving him. You will only get yourselves killed.
                                                                                                           Sincerely,                                                                                      
Queen Chernobog
Long live the Queen!    

 

     Cecilia felt like every time something good actually came to her in this world, something twice as bad would happen, replacing her excitement with worry and dread. She ran back to her room, her legs feeling weaker by the step, and packed her adventure pack. Although she wasn't going to turn herself in to the Queen, she definitely needed to save Mr. Hedgens as soon as possible. Cecilia thought about what would have happened if she hadn't found that letter instantly, and what would have happened if it was her who had been taken instead of Mr. Hedgens. She also thought about what would have happened if she wasn't so nosy and hadn't made it her issue to find out about a creature that could have just been a rat. Of course, that creature wasn't a rat, it was Mr. Hedgens, and she would not have found this fantasy world, but she had causeso much trouble with one simple mission that seemed useless to her at the time. It was just something to keep her mind off the scent of green, slimy, icky mold peeling off the castle’s damp walls. Once she was all packed, she rushed out the door as fast as she could with the large pit in her stomach returning yet again, although this time it was moving more towards her throat. She didn't want to worry any of the other creatures, so she went back to grab the note and took a map of the world she created too. Then, she walked out the front door again, but this time she had a motive.


     She opened the map, and headed in the direction the Evil Queen’s castle should be. Cecilia felt overwhelmed, yet excited about the adventure that lay ahead of her. If you would have told hera week ago that she’d be on a crazy chase to find a magic talking hedgehog, she would have laughed, then grabbed one of her books. Know, she was excited, but really worried for Hedgens,who would have hated the rainy weather of the day. She followed the path, but soon stumbled upon a river of rushing blue jelly that moved at least 60 miles per hour. How am I going to cross this? Cecilia felt hopeless. She needed to save the one friend she had just met, her only friend she had ever had. She knew she had to get across, but she didn't know how she would manage doing it. She searched in her pack and found a rope, which she tied to a gummy bear on her side of the jelly river, then lassoed another gummy bear on the opposite side. Cecilia then began to step onto the top of the rope, shaking head to toe from fear of falling, but she managed to stay on. She nervously shuffled her feet sideways across the rope, but suddenly her back foot slipped from the weight of her pack and she started to fall backwards. She frantically tried gripping onto something, anything, but couldn’t find any hand holds, the rope wasn't sufficient enough now that it wasn't tied on one side. Then, the side of the rope untangled from the gummy bear behind her and she tried to scramble forward, but she couldn't move fast enough. Cecilia’s legs fell into the jelly and it tried tugging her down with the current. Cecilia quickly grabbed onto a gummy bear that was standing right on the edge, and he gripped her arms in return, both helping to lift her out of the nasty jelly. With both of them trying to pull Cecilia up, her feet finally found a place to grip. She trudged through the current, strength coming from her ambition to save Mr. Hedgens. Once on land, she could see the castle in the distance. After thanking the gummy bear for saving her life, she started walking faster than she was before, feeling stronger than ever. She felt as if she should talk to the gummybear, give him more than a thanks for saving her life, but she knew nothing could amount to the gratitude she was feeling, nor was it worth the extra time she would be leaving Mr. Hedgens in the hands of the evil Queen Chernobog. However, she had a feeling this was not going to be the only challenge she was going to stumble upon. She braced herself for the next challenge that may be coming.


     She knew it would come, but dreaded the challenge that know awaited her. Cecilia faced a large cave with an opening that suspiciously looked like a mouth with sharp rocks as teeth. Regardless of her dread, there was no way around it if you wanted to get to Chernobog’s castle. So, Cecilia cautiously stepped into the mouthed cave that may end her life, along with Mr. Hedgen’s. Her feet crunched on bones, small white bones she considered to bemice, but wondered at the immaculate state the bones were at, no meat or fur on any of them. They all looked polished and as shiny as a pearl. She inched forward, careful not to fall into any of the lava that was building up around her feet.  Wait, lava? Cecilia shrieked. She looked and looked and swung her head from side to side but couldn't find a way around the lava to get through the cave which now seemed like an endless rocky tube. It’s rock! Cecilia realized excitedly. She knew exactly what to do. In almost no time at all, Cecilia had all four limbs attached to a hand hold on the side of the rocky cave wall. Cecilia had always been good at rock walls,  it she didn't find much interest in them. She know took her practice from gym class seriously and went to work Testing and balancing off of hand holds she never imagined could have worked. In almost no time at all, she had crossed the wall, sweaty from the heat of lava that was now up to her waist level. Cecilia couldn't imagine at how brilliant she had done between the heat and smell of burning flesh to the dangerous handholds that would fall of the cave if pushed on wrong. Proudly, she set off knowing nothing could stand in the way of her friendship that had really only begun yesterday.


   After her long journey, she was on the castle’s front step. Obviously, she wasn't going to walk through the front door. Cecilia knew that would be giving herself up to the Queen. So, she walked around to the back of the castle, finding the entrance to the cellar. Immediately she was freezing. Goosebumps popped up all over her skin, and the pit in her stomach grew even more which didn't seem possible at this point. Once, Cecilia had never imagined herself with a friend. Now, she was risking her life just to save one. She opened the cellar door, and a gust of cold wind flew out. Millions of rats were revealed through the open doors, all sound asleep. Cecilia tip toed through the sleeping eats, avoiding stepping on tails or nudging their feet. She wandered up the steps that were awaiting her on the side of the sleeping rats, revealing dungeons. She could hear someone weeping, and she quietly crept towards the sounds.


    She found Mr. Hedgens! She took a hair pin out of her pack and instantly started working on the lock. Soon enough, the cell door unlatched, and she embraced Mr. Hedgens the same way he had before.


   “I was so worried!” Cecilia cried, tucking Mr. Hedgens into her pocket and started walking back back down the cellar stairs. Sadly, the rats had awoke from their nap.


  “What do you think you’re doing here?” Ratikus questioned her with a sneer.


    “ I, I, I was, I was gonna..” Cecilia panicked. How did I get into this mess? All I wanted was to have a friend, why was this so hard? What consequences will that bring me to know? Was having a friend for this short of a time really worth all of this?

TO BE CONTINUED






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