The Portal Under the Couch

by Tamar S., age 10
The Portal Under the Couch Tamar likes to draw aliens and write fantasy stories.

“‘We’re going to the beach all summer this year!’ said Mom. ‘Isn’t that exciting?’ ‘NO!!!’ I screamed. ‘There is an awesome summer camp that I’m finally old enough to go to this year! Me and Leah and Nick have been waiting to be old enough to go there since we heard about it when we were seven!!'”

Chapter One: Not Going to Camp

“We’re going to the beach all summer this year!” said Mom. “Isn’t that exciting?”

“NO!!!” I screamed. “There is an awesome summer camp that I’m finally old enough to go to this year!  Me and Leah and Nick have been waiting to be old enough to go there since we heard about it when we were seven!! We promised each other that when we were finally eleven, which seemed sooooo far away back then, we would go there, and the next summer we would go there again, and we would go again the next summer. We decided we would go every summer until the summer we turn seventeen, when we’re too old to be campers, but the summer we’re nineteen, we’ll be old enough to become C.I.T.s, which stands counselors in training, and we will be C.I.T.s and eventually we’ll become counselors. Now, we have a chance to go, and I have to wait! Nick and I are going to Leah’s house this afternoon so that we can sign up together! What am I going to tell them? As good friends as they are, we’ve all been waiting to go for so long, and I don’t think they’ll be able to wait another year! And neither can I!”

I ran into my room and collapsed on my bed, crying. After a couple hours, I checked my watch and realized that it was time to go to Leah’s house. In fact, I was five minutes late. I wiped my tears off my face with my hand and dashed out the door without telling my mom, which proved I was really mad at her because Mom was very strict about me telling her when I was going out by myself. But this was just Leah’s house. My best friends, Leah, and Nick, and I hang out there all the time. My little sisters, Millie and Mara, are cute, but whenever Leah and Nick come over to my house, they always bother us. Ever since Leah gave them her new markers to get them out of our way, I apologized for having such annoying siblings, promised to get Leah new markers, and never invited them to my house again. Nick has a super annoying and mean older sister named Skyler, which is why we never go to his house. But Leah doesn’t have any siblings. I wouldn’t say she is lucky because, most of the time, I love my little sisters, but with Skyler as his sister, Nick definitely thinks she’s lucky, and I have to admit, I don’t blame him.

I knocked on the door using the special rhythm that let Leah know it was either me or Nick at the door. But, instead of going inside, I yelled through the door in my super loud voice, using the secret code me, Leah, and Nick use.

“I’m not going to camp!” I told them everything. “And I don’t care!” I screamed. “It’s a dumb camp anyway.”

Leah and Nick were my best friends. They know me better than anyone else. That’s how they knew that I was going to run away. I ignored the fact that Leah yelled, “Ally, wait!” in our secret language. It didn’t matter. She knew I would ignore her.

 

Chapter Two: Hiding

Today was the day camp started. Today, Leah and Nick were going to go off to camp without me. Today, my family was also going to the beach. For the WHOLE. ENTIRE. SUMMER.

I liked the beach. But not for the whole summer. Especially when I could be going to camp. Especially when the camp I could be going to is the most awesome camp in the world. Especially when I had waited four long years to go to that camp, and now I have to wait at least another year.

Which was why I hiding under the couch. There was not much room here, but my parents would never suspect I was here. This is the plan I wrote last night when I was supposed to be asleep:

Plan so I can go to camp

Step 1: Hide under the couch until Mom and Dad give up looking for me and go to the beach without me.

Step 2: Go to Leah’s house and show her my plan.

Step 3: Go to the Otter Lake camp and tell them I signed up and it’s weird that they didn’t know I was coming.

Step 4: Tell Nick my plan once I know the counselors won’t hear.

Step 5: Have fun, go swimming, and play soccer, and baseball, and basketball, and roast s’mores at the campfire every night, and see fireworks, and use sparklers (even though that only happened once) at Otter Lake camp!!! And make video games, and tell ghost stories at night, and hang out with Leah and Nick, and go hiking, and go down really cool waterslides, and dive from really high up, and go ghost hunting, and jump, and do flips on a mega trampoline, and partner with Leah and Nick to make our own version of monopoly and clue and twister, and see if any of ours wins the board game contest!!!

But as I waited for my parents and sisters to give up on their Ally-Hunt, my flashlight that I had been using to see (since under the couch could get dark) ran out. I sighed because I had been reading to help pass the time, and you can’t read when it’s dark. Then I saw something glowing in the distance. I reached out my hand to touch it. It felt cool and weird. Then, I realized that it felt weird because it was slowly pulling me into whatever was causing the glowing. I screamed for help, but it was too late. I was almost fully in some weird place that the glowing thing was pulling me into. And then, suddenly, I fell!

 

Chapter Three: The Portal

I landed on something hard and cool with a man staring down at me. He wasn’t exactly what you would call a normal-looking man. He had long, tangled, brown hair. His skin was gray, like it was made of stone. He had crooked, yellow teeth that looked as if he had never brushed his teeth in his life, and some of them were missing. His fingernails were short and stubby, but you could tell they would have been claws if they were in better shape. He was wearing a short, baggy tunic that was slightly ripped in some places. Oh, and his height was not at all ordinary. He was eleven feet tall.

“Another one of those people! Hate to do it but I gotta frow you into the dungeon like all the other people. King’s orders. Don’t wanna get frowed inta the dungeon ya know,” he said in a loud, slightly grumpy voice.

He picked me up.

“You seem nice enough. I don’t want you to get thrown in the dungeon, either. But I don’t want to get thrown in the dungeon. There has to be some way  for me to not get thrown in the dungeon and for you to not get thrown in the dungeon either. We can make a plan. I’m good at making plans. I’m Ally. What’s your name? And can I know where I am and how I got here? That thing is a portal, right? I bet it’s a portal. If it’s a portal, can’t I just go back through it and pretend I was never here?”

I just wanted to know everything!

“Ally, it’s not that simple. I’m Esgardon. Welcome to Garlios. Yeah, that thing that brought ya here is a portal, but it’s only a one way portal,” said Esgardon.

He put me down.

“You mean that you can go to Garlios through the portal, but not back to Earth?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

Esgardon gently put me into a dark place I assumed was the dungeon. Then he left and locked the door.

 

Chapter Four: Hannah

I turned around, and I saw the glowing light of a fire.

“Hey,” said a voice next to me.

I saw a girl with curly, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. She also wore a headband completely covered with pink glitter. She was wearing a white shirt with sleeves that went down to her elbows. Over her shirt was a navy blue vest with some patches on it. On the left side of the zipper, she had a patch that looked like a jewel. Next to the jewel, she had a pink patch in the the shape of the letter H. Under the H patch, she had a rainbow poop emoji patch. She had on a black skirt and glittery black fashion ankle boots. She had sparkly, lavender colored jewel earrings. She was also wearing a flower mood necklace. Although she may not seem like someone who would look weird, there was something about her that seemed weird. Then, I realized that I thought she looked weird because I felt like I’d seen her before.

“Do I know you?” I asked.

“Now you do.”

“No, I mean do I know you before now?”

“No. Why would we know each other? I’ve never seen you in my life.”

“I’m Ally. Is your name Hannah?”

“How did you know?” Hannah was obviously very surprised.

“I don’t know.”

I realized I hadn’t thought about how I knew that Hannah’s name was Hannah. Or why I recognized her when she had obviously never seen me in her life. I had been spending my time thinking where I recognized her from.

“How did you get here? You’re obviously from Earth. You’re not one of those people,” I pointed at the the jail cell next to ours. In it, there were people like Esgardon, but in much worse shape.

“Obviously. It’s sort of insulting that you would even consider that.” said Hannah. “I got here when I was twelve. I’ve been here for six years, even though I look like I’m still twelve. I’m actually eighteen. This is how it happened: My family, my mom, my dad, and my cat, Smoky, and I were moving. I didn’t want to move. I hid under the couch. I decided to sneak out to use the bathroom. I had brought my phone so I would be able to text all my friends about the plan, because my best friends, Miley and Rachel, had been devastated when they found out I was going to move. They would want to know about my plan, and so would my other friends, Sienna, Taylor, Maddie, and Liana. I would’ve also texted them just to pass the time. I had brought a couple of fashion magazines, and my sketchbook, my pencil case, and a flashlight. To eat, I had brought a milk box, some fruit salad, some leftover egg salad from last night’s dinner, a couple slices of bread, some cheese, a big package of fruit snacks, and a big bottle of lemonade. My parents wouldn’t just leave without me. I knew they wouldn’t. Eventually, I would come out when the new family gave up waiting to move in and decided to find some other house to move to. I figured that all that would prove that I really didn’t want to move and my parents would decide not to move. But then, before I could even turn on my flashlight I noticed something glowing in the distance. It scared me, but it was so close that my body accidentally brushed against it, and it pulled me through to Garlios.”

“That’s where I know you from!!!” I screamed. “My family was the new family that was going to move to your house. Your parents told us about you. They showed us a picture of you. And told us your name. They said the we were supposed to move in the day you

disappeared, but your disappearance postponed the move. After a month and a half of looking, they decided that you were gone forever.”

“I wish I could get back home.” Hannah sighed.

“You can,” said Esgardon as he walked in.

 

Chapter Five: Yaderragos Fighting

“I talked to the king just now. He said ya can go on a quest to kill the Yaderragos, which are these monsters and find the keys that they guard. The keys will let you go home. Hannah, you will go home to your new house and start college this fall. Your parents will never remember you were ever gone. No one will. You will start looking like you are eighteen. You will know what everyone thinks happened to you while you were actually in the dungeon, but you will also remember that you were actually in the dungeon. Ally, you were here for so short that when you get home, it’ll be last night again even though you’ll remember today. This time, don’t hide. Y’all have ta except what happens. And I promise, next summer you can go to Otter Lake camp.”

I was so happy, I forgot to ask how Esgardon knew all that. Then he continued, “I will take you to the place where the Yadarragos guard the keys, and then I will have to leave. You will most likely die — ”

“Wow, that really makes me want to do it,” Hannah grumbled sarcastically.

“As I was saying, you can chose armor, shields, and weapons. You can each have a private room to change into your armor and choose your weapons and shields.”

He lead us into small rooms, slightly bigger than bathroom stalls. I looked at the armor on the wall, and soon I was wearing a full suit of silver armor. I chose a sword as my weapon and clipped it to my belt. I looked at the sheilds. The king sounded like a pretty mean guy, so if he decided I was worthy of killing the Yadarragos, a shield would probably only be something extra to lug around. I left the little room and waited until Hannah was done. After around ten minutes, Hannah came out. She was wearing white tights and tall, black laced boots. She was also wearing her skirt, and the boots went up high enough to almost touch the skirt. On her top, she was wearing gold armor. Her hair was down, and she was wearing a pink helmet. She had a quiver filled with arrows, and clipped to the quiver was a bow. She was holding a red shield with two crossed swords in the center.

“Y’all ready?” asked Esgardon.

“Yup,” I said.

At the same time, Hannah said, “Yes.”

“Then hop on aboard!” said Esgardon, gesturing to a worn-out brown tractor.

While I hopped on right away, since I had always wanted to ride in a tractor, Hannah hung back.

“Are you sure that thing is safe?” asked Hannah.

“Of course!” said Esgardon sitting down in the driver’s seat.

Reluctantly, Hannah climbed in. I was really tired since I had been up half the night last night preparing for being under the the couch. After five minutes of being in the tractor, I was fast asleep.

“Wake up, you sleepyhead!” Hannah was shaking me awake. “You’re like the leader on this quest. Esgardon told me that the king didn’t agree for me to go on the quest when he asked the king when I got here six years. But he decided that since I figured I was allowed to come, I could come, and he wouldn’t tell the king.”

“Okay. Are we here?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Time to fight. Stay here. Only fight when I really need help, and I’ll tell you when I do. Since I’m the quest leader, you have to listen to me. And if you want to know why, it’s because you’re obviously not prepared for battle. You’re wearing a skirt. Who wears a skirt to battle?  I don’t get who would ever want to wear a skirt in the first place!”

“Fine. But trust me, you’re going to regret thinking I’m useless.”

Ignoring her, I looked at the four Yaderragos. They were covered in green scales. They had fangs. They had four long legs with claws at the end of them. I took my sword off my belt and snuck up behind one of the Yaderragos. Then, I chopped his head off before he could notice anything. But before I could kill any more Yaderragos, one of them noticed me and spit some poison at me. Then, everything went black.

 

Chapter One: Home

I woke up with Hannah staring at me.

“I told you you would regret thinking I was useless. I shot all the Yaderragos, got the keys, and I cured you from the Yaderragos poison. And I got changed. So ha!”

“Sorry, Hannah. I didn’t mean it. Really.” I said.

“I know. I was just really mad.” said Hannah. “How about you get changed, and then we can go home.”

Hannah held up some keys.

“Esgardon had to go back to report to the king about our success. But he’ll be waiting at the portal so we can say goodbye to him before we leave. Because it probably won’t be that often that we get a chance to visit Garlios, especially for me. You can change in the tractor. I won’t look.”

After I got changed, Hannah and I said bye to Esgardon, and went back through the portal, and even though the second I went through the portal, I was asleep, I could sense it. I was home.

 

The End

 

Epilogue

I guess Esgardon was telling the truth about me going back in time; when I woke up this morning, the date was June 30, the day Otter Lake Camp started, the day my family was going to the beach, and the day I went on my adventure in Garlios. I got dressed and was about to make myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast when the doorbell rang. It was the mailman.

“Are you Ally Halerson?” he asked.

“How did you know?”

Mail men didn’t go around asking me if I was Ally Halerson.

“Well my friend, Hannah Arper, gave me the address of this house. She said to knock on the door, ask for Ally Halerson and if she was there, give her this letter. Do you know Hannah?”

“Yeah. Thanks. Bye.”  

“See you later.”

I brought the letter to my room and locked the door (I earned the lock on my door the time Leah had to give Millie and Mara her new markers) so that no one could see the letter because before I left Garlios, Esgardon told me and Hannah not to tell anyone about Garlios, and the king had wanted our minds to be wiped of the knowledge of Garlios.

 

Dear Ally,

 

If you’re wondering how I knew your address, remember, I used to live in your house, and I still remember my old address. I wrote this letter because I feel like I need to talk to someone about our adventure, and it’s too risky to say it was a dream or to write a book about it. It’s our responsibility to keep Garlios’s secret, so you’re the only one I can talk to about it. No one else would believe me, anyway. Call me to tell me you got this letter. Here’s my phone number: 564-728-****

 

Love,

Hannah

 

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