The House of the Twelve Keys
Part 11. The Haunted Hallway
“We’re back in the hallway!” Raj said.
Not only that, but the front door was wide open. The storm had passed and brilliant sunshine flooded the room. Birds sang in the trees. Freedom was just a few steps away.
“WHOOP!” Pat yelled. She turned and began sprinting down the wooden floor. Raj was about to follow, when he thought back to the monster’s last warning.
After the computer, the monster had said there were only three challenges left. The piggy bank was one. And then….
“WAIT!” Raj yelled. “IT’S A TRAP!”
But he was too late. Pat stepped on the old carpet near the door. It suddenly gave way and she and the carpet tumbled into a deep black hole. Raj ran to the edge. “PAT!” he called, but it was as if the gloom simply swallowed up the sound.
He got to his knees. He felt around the hole. It was cold. The darkness was complete. He couldn’t see any trace of Pat or the carpet. With a creak, the trap door began to close slowly.
A bird began singing outside. A beautiful song. A meadowlark, Raj thought. He and Pat had listened to some bird songs in the library’s multimedia room.
Raj turned and looked. The bird landed on the doorstep and beckoned him to follow. Raj looked longingly at the sunny outdoors. It would be so easy to walk around the trap door, and then sprint the final few feet to the doorway. He could escape. An image of Pat falling passed in front of his eyes.
The bird sang louder and the image vanished.
Raj stood up, almost hypnotized. It was like he could see himself running free across the lawn and to the library. Pat could save herself, right?
“NO!” he yelled. He pointed at the bird, who stopped singing. “Sorry bird, but friends don’t leave friends behind.”
The bird scowled at Raj. But Raj didn’t care. Pat was in trouble. The monster had said the last challenge was the worst, and Pat was already there. “Maybe that’s the key to this stupid hallway,” Raj said to the bird. “Testing me?”
Without saying another word he stepped into the hole. Time seemed to stop for a second as Raj hovered in mid-air.
There was a loud howl from the air around him. Then the trap door swung fully open and Raj fell, faster and longer than he ever thought possible.
He landed with a thud on a cold, stone floor. The darkness seemed darker and thicker than he’d ever experienced.
And somewhere in the room nearby he could hear Pat whispering over and over, “We’re doomed.”
Do you think Raj made the right choice by stepping into the hole to find Pat?