Excerpt from the Hollow Castle
I find myself in a castle which I can only describe as hollow, because there seems to be no life within it. Ribs cross the ceiling like dinosaur bones. Massive columns look like they hold everything up. The room is dimly lit with lanterns and long wooden tables stretch across the room. Staircases are everywhere. They look like they might have once been grand, but now they’re covered in dust and cobwebs. An eerie glow comes from one of the archways high above me and the big wooden doors seem to look at me blankly, that is, they would be if they had a face.
I have no memory of what happened or even who I am. But I do not belong here. I know that for a fact. Suddenly, from the high archway with the mysterious light comes voices, like hushed whispers. It makes me jump and my shoes make a distinct sound on the cold floor. The voices stop immediately and I back myself against a massive column, shivering. They have found me.
This gives me a sense of panic as soon as the footsteps start. They are distant and quiet, but I think they’re getting louder, and that’s enough to make me think they are coming closer, closest to the door I was just staring at earlier. Yes, they’re definitely coming closer.
My eyes travel up the high archway. The light in it starts to fade slowly until it diminishes entirely. I snap my focus back to the door trying my best to keep my eyes trained on it. The people are coming. Now that’s another fact I’m sure of. If they are actually people… All at once the footsteps stop, the last one echoing across the hollow castle, sending a chill up my spine.
I relax a little, still slumped against my column. Maybe they haven’t found me. Maybe they’ve gone away, back to the light and whispering whatever they were chanting before. But that’s not it. I know that. I know that they are still looking for me.
And that’s when I see the doorknob turn.
Linda Smalls was a girl at the age of 13. She and her family,her father, her mother, and her brother, James, lived on a small plain in Oklahoma during to 1900’s. Her mother and James were currently on a trip to California, possibly looking for a job they could have, because they were all tired of being so poor and living in this dry environment.
This particular day in July 22, 1935 Linda and her father were tending to their crops. It was scorching hot, though that was usual; they rarely ever got any rain. “Well, I think we’re about done now,” Linda’s father panted. “Go on, get a drink and some rest. We’ll do more in the afternoon.”
Linda walked tiredly over to her water canteen sitting next to the wooden shack her family was living in. Linda’s father and James, who was 15 at the time, went for a long walk to collect wood for it. They had worked for many days and even then the shelter was feeble and tiny. They all had just hoped that a dust storm wouldn’t hit it though.
The family, luckily, had never seen a dust storm, which were common in the plains, but only heard about them. To Linda, though, they were terrifying either way. Linda took a drink out of the little water that they had. A windmill had supported the family with water but even then they always had little.
“Come on, Father, let’s go inside,” Linda said, beckoning to him. He walked toward the house slowly. They got together lunch, a small amount of vegetables for each of them. Linda sighed and wiped sweat off her forehead. Just another day on the farm. Or so she thought.
It happened later in the afternoon, when they were caring for their crops again. They were both taking a drink when they heard it. A low rumbling sound in the distance. As they watched, a huge cloud of dust billowed over the horizon. It was some distance away, but it was moving very fast, destroying everything in its path. Linda watched as a small barn disappeared under it.
“Stay there!” Linda’s father exclaimed, and she waited, trembling, as her father ran indoors. He emerged holding a bandana and a handkerchief. Drizzling a little water over both of them, he pushed the white bandana into Linda’s hand and held his handkerchief to his mouth. The dust cloud was coming closer. “Run!” he yelled, his voice muffled.
Linda didn’t need to think twice. With her water canteen in one hand and her bandana pressed to her mouth, she bolted- just as the dust cloud bared down on them. The storm enveloped them and Linda felt a strong hand grab onto her arm. They hurtled blindly forward, a roaring sound in their ears, desperately trying to escape.
At one point her father’s hand was jerked backward suddenly and lost in the massive cloud. “Father!” Linda screamed, clawing at the dust. “Father!!” “Go, Linda, I’ll catch up with-” her father’s gagging voice was overlapped by the raging of the dust storm.
Once again, Linda charged forward.
After what seemed like forever, the storm stopped. The roaring noise died down. Linda collapsed on the ground. She tried to blink the grit and gunk out of her eyes and opened them. A blurry image of a man stood there, wheezing as he clutched a stitch in his side.
“Father,” Linda croaked. That was all she got out until she doubled over and developed a coughing fit, choking and sputtering, her eyes watering, tears spilling out of them. Then, after that, she keeled over and lost her lunch. She rinsed her mouth once and rinsed out her eyes, too.
Once she was feeling considerably better she and her father sprinkled their handkerchief and bandana and chugged the rest of the water down. Then they sat and rested. When they thought they were ready, Linda and her father trudged back through the dust where they found their little wooden house. The tiny shelter, which Linda’s father and James had worked so hard on, had collapsed. They found the ruined boards on the ground, all around the crops that Linda and her father had tended so carefully to had been blown away. Linda figured she might as well cry since she felt like it and maybe the tears would help the dust on her face, since they ran out of water. They had nowhere to live, nothing to eat, and no job to live on anymore. How could this happen?
About a few days later, Linda’s mother and James had found them a job in California. The family lived happily there leaving their old past in Oklahoma behind. Everyone was successful, they had nicer clothes and made decent money. Linda and her father never thought again about how the dust storm had almost ruined their lives.
I hear the early, ticking clock,
And the loud, huge bird flock.
I see the morning sun arise,
And the tall pine tree’s big eyes.
I smell the chilly, fresh air outside,
And the scent of roses will be my guide.
I taste the sweetness of a honeysuckle flower,
And the berries that are tart and sour.
I feel the touch of the rough tree bark,
And the dewy, green grass in my peaceful park.
The small white birds go tweet, tweet, tweet,
And their music is so sweet.
The small deer start to run and stumble,
And the bees go bumble, bumble.
The wind starts to roar and rush,
And the big white clouds are looking lush.
All of these senses and sounds I hear
Are all very close and near.
All of these senses and sounds I hear will stay here from year to year.
Excerpt from The Overland
Hi, my name is Sarah Wolf. This is story about how my life has sucked ever since I landed myself in another universe.
Here’s how it all happened. The stars. I was watching the beautiful, twinkling lights as I was walking on the wet grass. It was a peaceful night with the crickets chirping softly and the full moon casting its silver light on my backyard. I sighed looking for a place to lie down.
But wait. I stopped. I shuffled my feet sideways and walked forward a bit. No, it wasn’t an illusion. There was a big hole in the ground, opening up into a wide expanse of darkness. All thought of the stars and the moon left me as I crouched down to examine it. Peering in, I must have somehow lost my balance. I pitched headfirst into the black void.
The next thing I knew was that I was falling, falling through another night sky. There was a wide valley below me. I closed my eyes and hoped that I wouldn’t become a Sarah-Pancake. Instead of hitting the grass with a sickening SPLAT!, though, I fell on the ground with a slight thump. My feet and legs didn’t hurt at all which was really weird since I should’ve broken them, plus all the rest of the bones in my body. I really should have been dead. But I took this as an opportunity to shakily stand up.
I gasped. I could tell the valley was big because I was observant that way. But it was really beautiful. The river was the first thing that was noticeable. The clear, crystal water flowed pleasantly over the perfect, round pebbles. Foxglove flowers grew along the riverbank and I immediately became enamored with them. An olive branch floated on the water. On both sides there was an amazing meadow with soft, green grass and dotted with so many wildflowers it would take forever to count. It looked like Paradise.
I was enjoying the great view when I heard a sound behind me. I turned. There was nothing there. Then a voice said, “Who in the Overland are you?”