Congratulations to Aya here is her winning story.
“The day I got Lost in the Rainforest”
It was a Friday when it happened. I had just finished showering and was pulling on my nightie, a snug weekend feeling in my stomach. Jumping into bed I pulled the dinosaur covers high over my head and checked my alarm clock before drifting off to sleep.
In my sleep I was walking through the old park. I discovered a hidden doorway next to the blossoming cherry trees. Sneaking forward to get a closer look, I saw that it was surrounded in thick, bristling thorns and coated with ivy. Desperate to take a closer look I winced as I pricked myself and bent down to examine the scratches which were by this time stinging painfully. Looking up through the cracks in the door I thought I saw dock leaves and a small ray of hope began to form inside me. Pushing aside the ivy I grabbed the door, expecting it to be locked, and stumbled backwards in surprise, as it swung open revealing…
What I saw was wondrous. A huge flickering light that seemed to be drawing me towards it, glowing dangerously. It gave me a strange sensation that tingled inside me – a sensation that made me want to run but at the same time didn’t.
Walking cautiously towards it I felt a mix of excitement and anxiety. It seemed to be calling me, beckoning me to it and I did not want to refuse. I stopped about a centimetre in front of it, common sense holding me back, but its dreamy voice seemed to think this was not close enough. So I moved, leaning my nose in so that I was almost touching it. I lifted my leg into the air, tilting forward, craning my neck, trying to get closer but not so close that I was touching the substance.
Then it happened. I teetered over and toppled into the substance. It was like… nothing. I felt no feeling, no emotion, just the dreamy bubble that had washed over me before. I was falling endlessly and I wanted it to stay like this, just falling and falling….
BANG! I hit the ground with a hard thud smashing my head against a large tree.
Then I woke. Feeling ruffled I checked the time. I had been asleep for hours! I was late for school! Grabbing my jacket I ran for the door and was bolting down the street when I realised – it was Saturday! With a mixed feeling of stupidity and glee I turned and strolled lazily back home. Just as I was reaching for the doorknob I felt something calling me, drawing me back. Looking round I saw… The light!
The same dreamy sensation washed over me as I saw the strange light.
But no! It couldn’t be! The light was from my dream it couldn’t be HERE in Hackney Lane could it? It has to be, I thought as I was sucked into the light. It has to be, or else why would I be here falling, falling…
I was going to the rainforest in real life!
As my head hit the tree I realised that this was going to be no ordinary rainforest – I mean I had just fallen through a shiny portal thingy that I had already fallen into in my dreams! No, this was no ordinary rainforest…
Standing up I rubbed the back of my head and looked around, finally settling my eyes on a tall mud-brick building set right across the horizon line. Deciding to set off there I stood up and strode up to the temple. After I had reached the last few trees I heard a lion roar near the structure. Looking around warily I listened for another roar but no sound came. After that I broke into a run.
I was sweating by the time I reached the mud-brick building. My lips were parched and my stomach was rumbling. Wrapping my arms around my back for comfort I touched a bag. Then I realised that I still had my school bag! Never before had I been more grateful for the ugly thing. Gratefully I gulped down my water and was just pulling out my snack box when a light bulb of thought hit me. I would be much more grateful if I saved it till later. Staring reproachfully at it I stuffed my snack box into my bag and set off into the temple.
Almost the moment I had touched the smooth stone floor a bodiless voice had filled my ears.
“You have entered the temple. Whether of eternal life or eternal death- well,” the voice gave an unmistakable cackle here. “That is for destiny to decide.” Pausing to see if I was listening the voice coughed before beginning again.
“If you wish to proceed you will face 3 challenges but if you wish to back out you may leave now and face the possibility of wandering the rainforest forever. Though there is another exit it is well hidden and destiny rarely ever allows people to find it. Most of them starve to death before they have time to consider. ANYWAY… we will give you a choice. You can choose now but once you have chosen there is no going back. Which one do you choose – to stay and complete the challenges or leave and risk staying in the rainforest forever?”
The silence made me jump. I had kind of fallen into the voice’s trance.
“WELL?” boomed the voice, “kindly make your decision, we haven’t got all day!”
I considered. This destiny person didn’t sound very nice, I didn’t want to risk my chances with her but on the other hand I was never any good at challenges….
“Um, I pick… err… um, I think I’ll go with…” I wanted to sound like one of the heroes in films, destiny seemed to like them but I was sadly failing.
“I think a hero would pick… I mean I would pick, sorry, I’m going to go with the challenges?”
“Excellent! Now have you ever met destiny? You know, like a person? The person who decides everything you do, the person who sent you here. I wonder why, you don’t seem like the hero type… Anyway you’re going to meet her but make sure you make a good impression because well… she can make you jump into a lava pit. I’ll call her in… Destiny! Come here! Your guest…. Oh sorry, she’s busy making sure the Patterson family win the lottery, she’s rather fond of them…. DESTINY! Your GUEST!!!”
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. A tall dark haired woman came sweeping into the room but she made me feel so… dreamy. I felt an overwhelming sensation of loyalty, like I’d do anything for her, anything….
“Come,” she said, but her voice was nothing like I’d expected it to be. Harsh and sour like lemons, not sweet and calming like sugar. Nevertheless I followed. She led me to a door. It was old, black and flaky and had clearly been used many times.
“Beyond that door lies your first challenge. Here,” she gestured to a couple of plush chairs sitting in the hall, “is where I answer all your questions. Now sit.” Obediently I moved myself to the closest chair and sat, waiting.
“Now ask child.” And her rough voice suddenly sounded sweet and inviting, nothing like it had before.
I didn’t know where to start. Questions where pulsing through my blood.
“Mind you, I’ll only answer three questions,” said Destiny, in her new sing song voice.
Well, I thought to myself, that makes it SO much easier to choose…
“And you have 10 seconds to think of each one,” she sang and I thought I glimpsed a ghost of a smirk flicker across her face.
“Um, ok well my first question is…” there were so many questions, so little time, the pressure was getting to me I knew I was going to say something stupid. “How was the voice speaking to me, it had no body?” I could’ve slapped myself. All the voices in my head were screaming at me, yelling that I’d wasted one of their precious questions.
“He was a spirit,” said Destiny, her eyes popping madly. “My dead brother, who failed to accept my challenges. He was fate, much more powerful than me, he was the one who created his own death. I brought back his soul, his spirit but he was ungrateful. He did awful things, he haunted people, took control of their bodies, for he was not satisfied with being a spirit. He became untamed. I had to threaten him with the destruction of his body, the only thing keeping him partly alive. From then on he has been cursed to serve me, forever more…”
I couldn’t speak. My whole body was shaking uncontrollably. Then she spoke again.
“Would you like to see him? Shrivelled up, eyes rolling around in his sockets, yellowing, rotting…”
“No thanks I’m fine,” I interrupted, sweat rolling down my face. “That’s my only question actually. Bye I’ll go face the challenges now.” And with that I sprinted to the black door and set off on the challenges…
Nothing could have prepared me for what happened next. The moment I opened the door a flash of green light erupted from one of the far walls. It hit me full on the stomach, winding me, dazing me. Then another flash of light came, blue this time, and with such force that I was instantly knocked over. Then with a lurch in my stomach I turned and saw a big gaping hole, and with another lurch I realised that I was going to fall into it! There was nothing I could do about it! THIS was how I was going to die. Lost in the rainforest…
I don't know what happened next. One minute I was falling and then…
Rubbing the back of my head I felt a lump beginning to form there. Just great.
Standing up, I ran my aching hand over the floor. Mud-Brick, just like everything else in this blasted place. Looking around I saw strange markings on the wall. One of them looked like a stick on fire. Hold on a minute - a torch! Just then something flickered into life; a torch?! That was strange. The torch cast an eerie glow over the markings, making them look almost sinister. Casting a wary glance back at it I crouched down to begin to decipher more markings. One of them looked a bit like a fork. No, not quite, the figure holding it seemed to be doing something different with it. More like a twisting movement… A key? Just then something shiny and silver landed in my palm. I knew what it was before I even looked down. A key!
Suddenly it all became clear. I had to decipher the markings to complete… what?
“10 more minutes to complete the tasks.” The sudden arrival of the voice in the silence made me jump. “10 more minutes to escape mortal peril! 10 more minutes child, the timer is ticking! 9 minutes 59 seconds!” and with a harsh laugh Destiny’s voice disappeared into the gloom.
Heart beating furiously, I started to decipher but thoughts clogged my mind.
you shouldn’t have wasted your time on the lights, you should have dodged them!
I didn't know what was coming!
you should have asked about them in your questions, shouldn't have run off, scared of a body!
How was I supposed to know?
wasting time answering back!
If you could just let me decipher the code?
Isn’t it obvious? Door, leads to challenge 2!
It was in fact, genius! Heart beating furiously I thought harder than I had ever thought before, even when I'm choosing what flavour donut I want.
Door, leads to challenge 2, door leads to challeng-
But my thoughts were interrupted by something that sounded very much like mud walls moving! My mind racing in excitement I turned to see a bright red door with the words ‘challenge 2’ emblazoned on them in gold writing. Reaching for the handle I took a deep breath and turned the handle, preparing myself…
But what I saw was the opposite of what I was expecting. I was standing in a small room with crystal walls. The room was empty apart from in the middle where a huge throne stood, beautiful but completely empty.
Then, without warning, one of the thrones velvety cushions tore in two, creating a mouth like hole. The others followed suit. As strange as this was, I couldn’t help feeling a little bit of pity, for the throne and cushions had been so beautiful.
Then from their mouth shaped holes they began to sing.
“Oh little one, oh little one, we have not had many of you. Mostly big strong men with no brains or beautiful women who try to charm us. But no little one, not many of you most of them think they’re monkeys and run off to the wild. We are impressed but we will not go easy. I can tell you think we once were beautiful and you can make us pretty again. You can try and sew us back together but we will not just shut our mouths. Or you can answer our riddle and a door will appear. If you answer it wrongly you are stuck in this room, you will become the throne or a cushion like us. You may only pick once so choose wisely young one.”
They all looked at me expectantly, or they would if they had eyes. I didn’t know what to do. To sit down and think would be to waste more time but to rush would be throwing away life. Before I could decide a screeching voice from over head yelled-
“5 minutes little child!”
It was too much. I just wanted to sit here forever. Maybe becoming a cushion wouldn’t be so bad…
Before I could tell them my desire a voice spoke of its own accord and I realised it was mine. Bracing myself I listened. My voice spoke and said riddle.
“Hear hear!” called the first cushion. “The child is not as dim as we thought!”
“Yes!” called the second one.
“The riddle?” cried the third and together they chorused-
“What has many keys but can’t even open a single door?”
“You have three guesses young one! Answer the third time wrong and we shall have a new friend. Aaah, I know, you can be yellow with a diamond pattern on you. No! Even better a-”
“The riddle!” called the middle one.
“Oh yes!” called the first. “3 guesses and so little time.”
As if on cue Destiny’s voice rang through the air-
I had definitely heard this one before. At school. But who had told me it? Ms Claren? She plays the violin, but what has that got to do with keys? What do I know about violins?
Taking a deep breath I called-
“No silly young one! Where are your brains? A violin? Keys? Have you gone mad! I don’t think I want you as a cushion anymore.”
Dang. A waste of time. The clock was ticking. Wait a minute, was it the caretaker, George? He loves clocks. There are loads of clock riddles!
“Clocks!” I called.
“No! NO! Wrong again! You’d better get it right his time, I don’t want to have to share my seat!”
Time was running out, and fast. I hadn’t even got to the 3rd challenge yet! But answering this riddle was my last hope, and I was going to cling onto it. I just had to relax. The pressure was getting to me. I just had to relax, breathe. Closing my eyes, I tried to imagine my class photo. There was everyone, smiling up at the camera and next to me, a girl in braces, smiling the widest of them all. Of course, Sharonelle Mouse! She was obsessed with riddles, never a moment when she wasn’t inventing them. Then I saw a piece of paper in her hand. Yes that was definitely in the photo. I squinted to read it. Half of it was facing the camera, the other half invisible to my eyes. Zooming my brain in, I saw the words she had scribbled.
a single door. A piano!
Never in my life had I been so glad to see her handwriting.
“A piano!” I yelled and bolted for the door.
I watched her from the trees, watched her run. I watched her stare at my maze with mixed curiosity and fear etched onto her face. Watched her stumble and run, trip over the brambles I had put there. I looked at her worried face as Destiny called 50 seconds. I watched but I did not help. I never help them. The humans, the brave ones. I only help if they call my name and only one did, by accident. He has escaped now, but I think he left some sort of clue to help. I was rather fond of him, I’m rather fond of anyone who calls my name. Like Destiny and the boy. And maybe her.
I stumbled endlessly through the maze, terrified. Destiny had finished her call of ‘30 seconds!’ and I didn't think I could, or would, be able to escape this maze. Panting and puffing I sat down, exhausted. I needed help right now. I looked down at the oak tree I was sitting on. Maybe it was just a dream? I hoped so, but everything was so real. I rubbed the bump on my head. It was definitely there. I looked around, hoping for some kind of clue, anything to help me escape. If only a monkey would come down from the tree, somehow help me escape.
“I need a monkey.” And then I slumped down, exhausted, and prepared to die.
I need a monkey. Why did the child use that choice of words? I watched her slump against the tree , looking forlorn. I was a monkey. But she hadn’t said my name. But she had said she needed me! As Destiny called out 10 seconds I made my choice. Scrambling down the tree I pushed her palm against the oak button. Completely disguised to anyone who didn’t know where it was. As the button disappeared into the depths of the tree I watched the girl vanish. Destiny would be outraged. Definite pray escaping. Being outsmarted. I was Fate’s brother after all, I can twist things…
I woke up feeling drowsy. I expected to be in my bed. After all, it was just a dream wasn’t it? Well when I opened my eyes I found that I was on my bed. So it was just a dream. An exciting one at that. Scrambling out of bed I absentmindedly rubbed my head. I felt a lump there...
The End *
*The Pattersons didn’t win the lottery.