a short story by Lila Malek, ’24

It was one of those nights again. You know, those nights. When your parents have company over and your mission is for them to forget about your existence. My large four story, antique filled Victorian house is in a quiet town in Maryland. The town isn’t the only quiet thing here. I live alone with my dad in our unnecessarily large house. Besides the occasional check in from one of the cleaning ladies, I’ve kept myself in isolation from my father, your average CEO of a law firm, middle aged money man. I was in the middle of hiding in my room, watching Netflix and attempting to focus on homework, when my stomach growled, a well known plea for food. I considered my options gravely: stay here in peace and safety, but eventually perish of starvation, or go down and get food but have to make small talk with strangers in suits every two feet. Let me tell you something, I do not bode well with strangers in suits. Unless. Unless there was a way to achieve the holy blessing of chocolate, without all the “how is school going for you, champ?” You know exactly where I’m taking this: Mission Impossible. In other words, getting food while all of my fathers coworkers are in the dining room, without being seen. As I tiptoed down the stairs, I was practically the embodiment of the James Bond theme song. Creeping off the last step into the empty foyer, I found my escape route when I noticed the lack of guests in front of a one end of the room. I crawled under the long buffet table, which was covered by a long white elegant table cloth, carefully making sure not to notify anyone of my presence. At last the kitchen was only a few more feet away. I paused for a moment so as to not make too much sound, when I saw a bump in the carpet that had never caught my attention before. I pushed the red patterned carpet aside to see a handle and a latch. Slowly I peeled the handle upwards, opened a trap door, and promptly fell right through and landed on my derrière, as my (evil) French teacher liked to say. I had lived my entire life in this house, but I was standing in a hallway that I had never seen before. It looked like something you’d see in a horror movie, a narrow hallway lit by dim wall lamps with a musty red carpet that didn’t ever appear to end. I looked up but there was no trace of where I had fallen from, only endless ceiling. I figured my only other option was to walk, so that’s what I did, but the darkness at the end of the hallway only seemed to get closer, until I had been fully swallowed by the looming shadow. I was about to turn around when I realized I couldn’t move, and there was a giant hand reaching for me, getting closer and closer. I heard a clink, clink, clink, clunk, and from all my horror movie experience, that’s never a good thing to hear. The hallway tilted drastically, and I started rushing toward a pit that appeared to be never-ending.
Swoosh.
I was endlessly falling, which instantly extinguished any thoughts I had of getting out of here. I saw a glow getting brighter as I fell. There was an enormous fire, around me, consuming me, until all there was left was ash, floating up into a pile under the buffet table. I think I can safely say, that was one of the strangest dreams I’ve ever had, you know, the whole “being dead” thing. Anyway, I have to go. The school bus is about to pull up to my dad’s ridiculously large driveway. He has company coming over tonight and I guess I’m just gonna have to stay in my room. At least I have Netflix.

Hope you write back soon,
Esmé Courtier 🙂