One Page at a Time: The Cellar Door, Page 6

This is a collaborative story in which you write the next page of the story. It is currently unedited, so please forgive any errors. Fill out the form below and I’ll publish the best response. 

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Page 1 by Sean Sandulak

Gillian pulled another plate from the cardboard box and frowned at the chip and crack along its edge. This was the third thing that was broken and she’d barely even begun to unpack. She hoped it would be the last time that she would have to move for a long time. It was as hard on her and the kids as it was on the dishes.

Thinking about her son and daughter made her realize that the house had become too quiet. She dropped the plate into the soapy water in the sink and called out, “Tom! Where is your sister?” When there was no answer, she became equal parts worried and irritated. “Tom!” she called again, louder this time.

A sulking twelve-year-old boy shuffled into the kitchen and whined, “You don’t have to yell.”

“Where’s your sister?” she asked.

“I dunno,” he mumbled.

“I told you to watch her,” she said, “so you had better go find her.”

“But mom,” he said, “I was watching TV.”

“Go and find her right now or there will be no TV for a week,” she said. With that threat the boy stomped off without another word. Gillian kept pulling her dishes from out of the boxes and putting them in the sink to wash them.

After a few minutes, Tom returned and said, “I couldn’t find her anywhere.”

“Well, she couldn’t have gone outside or I would have heard the door,” she said. “Did you try looking in the basement?”

He went the door that stood off to the side of the kitchen, opened it, and made his way down the creaky, wooden stairs. Tom was only gone a few seconds before he came racing back up. He slammed the door and braced his body against it. His face was pale and he was breathing like he had just run a mile.

Gillian ran to him, crouched down, and gripped him by the shoulders to steady him. “What’s wrong?” she asked. “Where’s Amelia?”

“There’s something in the basement,” he answered. “I think it took her.”

Page 2 by Lauren Jokl (misskzebra)

Gillian hoped that Tom couldn’t hear her heart begin to pound against her chest. “Don’t be ridiculous.” she told him. “Stay up here and don’t move.” This was his idea of a joke, she thought.

Gillian moved him aside and opened the door. The lights didn’t turn on when she pulled the cord by the door. Advancing down the steps, she listened out for Amelia. There was a slight breeze down here.  Gillian didn’t know where it was coming from, but it was cold. Despite the chill, sweat started to form on her upper lip.

“Amelia? Where are you?” A hard block of anxiety was starting to form in Gillian’s chest. “Amelia!” She scanned the darkness and couldn’t see a thing.

“Amelia, is that her name? It’s such a pretty name, for such a pretty girl.” Gillian spun around to see a dwarfish woman with a pale face.

“Who are you?! Where’s my daughter?” Gillian yelled.

“Your daughter is in the place where the cockerels crow all of the time, where the sun always reigns but the moon never dies. The Land of Orange Skies. She belongs there. She’s a child of the Gods, which you know very well.”

“No. No. Did her father put you up to this? He spouted this crap too, when he’d lost his mind. Give me back my daughter!” Gillian commanded, her chest heaving with panic.

“He did, but he’s not lost his mind. We’ll give her back if you come to collect her.” The woman smiled and held out her hand.

Page 3 by AJ Muller

“Mom, who’s that?” Tom asked, skirting the wall of the kitchen to get closer to his mother.

“Stay there baby.”

“He’s free to come too. He’s not as special as his sister, but a similar face may help her adjust.”

“No! My son is going nowhere and neither am I.” Gillian proclaimed keeping her voice more level than she thought possible.

The mystery women withdrew her hand and stared at the taller women. Her blonde hair was pulled up in bun and strays of her uncombed hair were sticking out. The pale women tilted her head and spoke again. “I have delivered my message and now I must go.” She turned and went to walk out of the back door.

“What about my daughter!” Gillian shrieked, paranoia seeping into her mind. What if she never saw Amelia again?

“If you change your mind flip this and say gods of harvest gods of the sky, bring me to the world where life never dies.” the short women said handing over a coin before she vanished through a blurry wall of light leaving Gillian and Tom standing their baffled.

“That was awesome! Can we go mom, can we?” Tom asked grabbing Gillian’s arm tugging on it adding extra strain to her elbow joint.

“Enough!” she snapped, “No, we are not going.”

“Amelia gets all the fun.” Tom sulked as Gillian grabbed the phone and dialed 9-1-1. The operator started off friendly, asking what the emergency was, but as Gillian described the ordeal the operator grew restless and hung up.

“Mom, what’s going on?” Tom asked. Gillian didn’t answer at first. She stared at the golden coin in her hand, turning it in her fingers. “Mom?” instead of answering Tom she began muttering. As she said the pale women’s words the coin flew from her thumb into the air and hit the floor. A blurry circle of light, grew beneath her feet. Before she could catch her breath she was falling.

“Mom!” Tom called leaping for her hand, grasping it as the light pulled both of them in.

Page 4 by Bren Lee

And then it was over. Time had inexplicably warped both Gillian and Tom. They looked at one another, awestruck; almost in a state of shock.

‘Mom?’ Tom was confused by his own voice. ‘Woah! Is that me…talking? Mom, you look so small.’

Gillian ignored him, ‘Tommy? Wh..’

Standing in a golden field of wheat; the sun beat down, fighting against the cool breeze. Tom had grown into a young man of maybe 20 years old and Gillian was somehow back in her college days again. A crow rambled through the wheat rows pecking at the fallen spikelets.

‘Well get on with it then! You’re not in Kansas now you know?’

Tom shrieked with glee,’Cool a talking bird! Mom look-it.’

‘A bird indeed? I…am Corvus. Familiar to Moon Empress Helenae and I am at your service.’ Corvus’ feathers ruffled as he dipped his head.
‘Well I am at your service for now. If you have questions, ask away; you have a long journey ahead of you and I have much to do.’

Gillian was dumbstruck whilst Tom stood there enchanted by the talking bird.

‘I haven’t got all day. Let’s have it’ Corvus tapped his talon with impatience.

‘What…why…how?’ stuttered Gillian.

‘Ah 3 of the classics! Lets start with why shall we?’

Page 5 by Bren Lee

‘Every year a child is born who is destined to join one of the 3 factions of this land; The Tumult, The Lord of the Sun-kissed and Her Righteous Majesty Moon Empress Helenae. The destined one’s fate is pre-determined but the Gods allow, Amelia in this case, to choose their own path to their destiny. Therefore upon arrival in this great land, one takes on ones form with the greatest possible potential but is left to their own devices. The factions are forbidden to interfere with the choice or path Amelia will take.
To be perfectly honest with you, and who more honest than a crow, how you two managed to arrive here is a mystery to one as well.’
Tom squatted down on the husk covered ground and considered his new form. ‘Is that why me and Mom are different too?  You know, we look about the same age.’
Corvus clicked his beak a few times in what appeared to be an impatient tut. ‘Young man, please do not interrupt…where was one?
Oh yes ‘how?’ Well as you will have already realized, the rules of your world do not apply here. This place is a battleground, ruled with magic and torn asunder by the politicking of those who refuse to accept their place in Her Majesty’s Empire. The Tumult have an uncanny ability to manipulate the magic of this place and use this to keep the Empress at bay. The Sun-kissed are many. They outnumber all others but lack organisation and tactics. Finally but no means slightest one has Her Majesty who is the beacon of hope for this world and is destined to bring all people together. Empress is an adept sorceress and commands a vast army but is spread thin fighting a war across two fronts.’
With a sudden twitch of his head Corvus looked to the sky, ‘Night is coming, prepare yourselves.’
Gillian gazed around, the sun reigned high and there was little sign of the day drawing in. ‘Prepare?…prepare for what? It looks no later than midday here…and another thing. If you’re forbidden to interfere? Why are you here? Are you a spy or is Helenae trying to get the upp…’

A great shadow swept across the field as the sun faded from view. Moments later the most enormous moon appeared. Purple, imposing. A vast crater of shadow gave the moon an eye-like appearance and it seemed to be discerning them, directly.

Gillian was stunned into silence again and Tom flew onto his back in awe. The serene blue sky caught fire with green flames that tore a streak toward the cold globular object. The air filled with a hum that grew in strength as the fire flew higher into the sky. With a flush of green light the moon vanished as quickly as it had appeared and the summer daylight continued to beat down as if oblivious to the drama.

‘Every day the same thing. Empress will gain the upper hand again before long…Bloody Tumult!’

Page 6 by Bren Lee

The young woman skipped aimlessly, bemused by her surroundings.

The maize was endless, still she was enjoying the warmth of the day and she felt as though this was an awesome adventure; the sort of thing she read about when she was a baby girl. She recalled a story about fierce cats and bedroom furniture, could it be that she had somehow wandered into that magical world?  She hoped so.

How long had she been here now? It seemed like hours but she had an odd feeling only minutes had passed since she was playing hide and seek in the cellar. Standing on tiptoes she craned her neck to try and reach over the stalks and she hollered as loud as she could; the voice seemed weak and disappeared into the rows as soon as it left her lips.
The girl still had a sense wonder there but she was starting to feel a little alone and afraid. ‘Wow, this field goes on for ages.’

‘You don’t have that much farther to go really.’

It was a tiny voice and she barely heard it but spinning around the girl’s head darted left and right in curious panic.
‘Slow down ! You’ll spin your head right off your shoulders if you’re not careful. I’m up here.’

The girl stopped stock still and stared hard in the direction of the voice. ‘Where?’

‘On the corn…’ The voice was almost a squeak but it grew louder as it said, ‘Look, I’m waving.’

All I can see is a little golden grasshopper thing.

‘Charming, do you talk to everyone you meet like that?’ The grasshopper flushed red and quickly faded back to the golden hue of the corn. Rearing up on its back legs the hopper introduced herself. ‘I am Scout and you are Amelia aren’t you?’

Astonished by the petite creature she staggered back a couple of steps until she left the leaves of the corn husks poke into her thighs. ‘How on earth do you know my name?’
‘Well you’re not on Earth and we’ve been expecting you, everyone has. In fact you are supposed to change the world. I don’t suppose you could let me ride on your shoulder could you?

It’s not too far back home for a giant like you but it would take me hours to hop back and I’m supposed to warn my people of your arrival.’

‘You’re a grasshopper!’

‘Well spotted. I am a grasshopper. Well a Chameleon Grasshopper to be precise and like I said my name is Scout. Please could I have a lift?’

‘…I guess so…but how will you warn people I’m coming if you’re travelling with me?’

‘I hadn’t thought that far ahead to be honest…oh you are a smart one aren’t you? They said you would be. ‘

Scout sprang from the stalk and landed on Amelia’s shoulder. The moment she landed her colour began to fade away until she was almost indistinguishable from Amelia’s pale skin.

‘Tut, tut, tut, this will never do. I’ll be burned to a crisp under this hot sun. No time to waste, let’s get going.’

Amelia already felt completely at ease with Scout on her shoulder and whilst she still couldn’t see over the row tops, she  tip-toed to try and see where they were headed.
‘Get going where?’

‘You really are new here aren’t you? In this part of the country there is only one place to go. To the….

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