I sat in the stands as my school’s 8th grade basketball team crushed the other team, as usual. No one could beat Emerald Creek Middle School in basketball, no one. I normally wouldn’t go to basketball games, but it was mandatory this time, because the school district had this brilliant idea to have it during school hours at the end of the day.
It had some positives though, less time in class being one. My school had the best basketball team in the state of Rhode Island, which wasn’t saying much. Because of that, the district wanted us to have more practice time to be the best in the state, so they did basketball games during school and practice after, which made basketball games mandatory.
Finally the game ended with ninety-six points for our team, and twenty for the other team. No one was surprised. Everyone shook hands at the end, then the other team left, just like every other basketball game. Life was so boring and routine, I’m surprised I haven’t gone crazy yet.
I got up to go to homeroom, which was also my English class. A bunch of other eighth graders who were in my homeroom got up as well, knowing Ms. Joshkin, our teacher, expected us back as soon as the game was over.
“Welcome back, students. How was the game?” Ms. Joshkin said cheerfully as we herded back into the room like cattle. I didn’t answer, but others did, saying things like, “Good” or “We won again.”
Just then, an office aid came into the room carrying a note for Ms. Joshkin. She frowned as she read it. She looked up and her eyes landed on me. Uh oh, was I in trouble?
“Echo, I left some paper for Principal Hardwood in the library, can you grab them?” She said, not knowing how much of a relief her words gave me. I hated getting in trouble, it was my second greatest fear, because it would mean that I disappointed someone. My number one fear is pretty ridiculous, I’m scared of shadows.
It’s not a ‘won’t even go near it’ kind of fear, it’s more like ‘something’s hiding in there’ kind of fear. And if a shadow happens to be in my way, I can go through it and stuff, but I tried to avoid it whenever possible. My dad had always reminded me of how a ridiculous fear that was, but Mom somehow understood, though, she understands nothing else about me.
I got up once again and left the room, heading in the direction of the library. I knew the way well, and I knew the library even better. It was my favorite place in the school, a place where I could read books in silence, or speak with the librarian, Ms. Davis, about our favorite books.
When I reached the library, the doors were closed, but unlocked, as they usually were at this hour. I pulled one door open and got a blast of cold air from the library, which was slightly colder than room temperature to preserve the books.
The library wasn’t very big, since our schools money was mostly spent on new equipment for the basketball team. It was barely large enough to fit four short shelves with taller shelves lining the wall. The librarian’s desk was located in the center of the room with two short shelves on either side. On the left, there was a table so a group could read together and on the right, a couple of bean bags were set up in a semicircle.
“Hey, Ms. Davis. Ms. Joshkin said she left some papers for the principle in here, do you know where they are?” I asked our librarian. She was an elderly woman with gray hair and kind blue eyes. She looked old, but she didn’t act old. Her eyes had this sorta lively sparkle that made her seem younger.
“Yes, dear. Their on the table in the nonfiction section.” She said, looking up from the book she was currently reading.
“Thank you, enjoy your book.” I whispered to her while softly walking away. I always felt that you needed to tiptoe in the library, something my parents had taught me when I was younger, and a habit I haven’t been able to get rid of.
I tiptoed to the only table in the library. Sure enough, the papers Ms. Joshkin needed were on the table, next to a book with the title of The Fairy Tale Trials.
Interesting, I thought to myself. I’ve always had an interest in fairy tales. The book looked like a storybook you would expect to see in movies like Lord of the Rings. It was bound in leather and probably wouldn’t have fit on the shelves made for modern books.
I picked up the book and untied the leather string that kept it close, opening it to the first page, which was blank. I turned the page, but the next one was blank as well, again I turned the page, but it was still blank!
Finally, I turned to the last page, the only page with words on it.
“Taktu mig í heim galdra.” I muttered, reading the words written on the page. I don’t think I pronounced it right, but I didn’t have much to time to think about that.
The book in my hands started glowing a harsh light. I dropped the book on the table to cover my eyes so I wouldn’t go blind. Wind that wasn’t there before howled around me, like I was in the middle of a tornado. I could see the light from the book through my eyelids, making the darkness that you see when you close your eyes red.
Finally, the wind stopped, the light from the book dimmed, and all was still, except for my beating heart. I slowly opened my eyes, expecting to be anywhere than where I really was.
I was in a forest, but the plants looked strange. The colors of the plants were more vivid and bright, like I was looking through a camera filter.
I grabbed a small branch off one of the trees in front of me. I inspected it, without noticing the tree that was moving.
“Hey! Who do you think you are?” The tree shouted, using one of its branches to take back the twig I was holding.
An ear splitting scream escaped my mouth, scaring the nearby birds away.